Have you ever thought about the evolution of the toothbrush?
The earliest form of "toothbrushes" were actually “chewing sticks”- for example, miswak or neem. In ancient Babylon, people chewed on twigs to shred the edge into fibres, creating a "brush" that they would use to clean their teeth. Some plants even contained cleansing or antiseptic properties. Miswak or neem chewing sticks are still common in some parts of the world.
The Chinese were probably the first to invent the earliest form of 'toothbrush' in the form we currently recognise. These were made with boar bristles stuck onto or tied with twine onto the handles of bamboo or bone. These would be very similar to modern toothbrushes, but probably a lot more harsh on the teeth.
Over the past few centuries, toothbrushes have clearly developed to suit different preferences and ages. Most conventional toothbrushes are made with plastic handles and nylon bristles, which are inexpensive materials. Toothbrushes are now accessible to almost everyone.
Rethinking the norm
Plastic toothbrushes are given out in hotel rooms on the daily, treated as disposable and discarded without much thought.
If you follow the standard usage of three to four months per toothbrush, you would be going through at least four toothbrushes a year, all of which are non-renewable plastic, non-recyclable, and will not break down for several hundred years if they somehow wrongly find their way into the natural environment...
You've probably seen pictures of beach cleanups where dozens of sea-battered toothbrushes are laid out for scrutiny. You might've seen a poor seabird cough up a head of a toothbrush (ugh!) Either way, you're most likely aware of the plastic litter problem that we face today.
Perhaps that is enough to compel you to seek an alternative.
If not, let us change your mind ;)
Three reasons why bamboo toothbrushes are great!
1. Plastic toothbrushes are NOT recyclable
Plastic toothbrushes are mostly NOT recyclable because the composite plastic used to create them does not break apart efficiently, and chunks get stuck in recycling machinery.
2. Bamboo toothbrushes do the job just as well
Bamboo toothbrushes can be just as good for your teeth as plastic toothbrushes. Bamboo Straw Girl toothbrushes are made with medium-to-soft nylon bristles, which are the best choice for your teeth. When choosing any kind of toothbrush, consider the size of the head, the shape of the handle, and the bristles. Toothbrushes that can easily fit into the narrow areas of your mouth with soft bristles and a comfortable handle are the best. We asked our dentists!
3. Bamboo toothbrush handles are made from quick-growing bamboo
Bamboo grows quickly! That means that our bamboo toothbrush handles are made from a very quickly renewable material.
While long-lasting, durable plastic can be the right material at times for certain products, is it truly the best material for the toothbrush, an item that we use and dispose of every few months? It makes sense to replace the handle with a renewable material - bamboo.
Bamboo toothbrush FAQ
When should I replace the toothbrush?
Replace your bamboo toothbrush every two to four months, as you see fit. To help the toothbrush last longer, always dry it across the rim of your cups rather than standing up inside them, so as to reduce the likelihood of water accumulating at the base of the cup.
If you purchase a bulk pack of toothbrushes and want to extend their shelf life, keep them in the fridge :) A big tip for anyone in a tropical environment.
How do I dispose of the bamboo toothbrush?
The bamboo handle is 100% bamboo and technically compostable. However, if you are using a small home composting system, the handles will take months to years to break down due to the lasting nature of bamboo. If you have a chipper or a way to break the handle into smaller pieces, it will break down more quickly. We recommend first repurposing the toothbrush for general cleaning. Then, check if you have a local composting collection system.
What if I don't compost?
If you do not have such a system in your area, you should dispose of the toothbrush in general trash. Your sustainable action in this case is choosing a product that makes use of a renewable material (very quick growing bamboo) versus oil-based non-renewable material plastic.
Have any more questions? Ask us at firstname.lastname@example.org or direct message Bamboo Straw Girl!