Brushing your teeth matters, and for many people having the convenience of purchasing a plastic toothbrush at any market makes keeping up with your oral hygiene golden. Almost every store will have its own generic brand, and with plastic toothbrushes, brushing is easier than ever. However, despite how easily they can be disposed of and purchased, the long-term effects of having these toothbrushes are horrible for the environment. For people who are concerned about the environment, toothbrushes often fill up our landfills and pollute our oceans, harming ecosystems and making our world an even more polluted place.
The Problem With Bioplastic Toothbrushes
Our plastic consumption is overloaded. According to the EPA, over 1 billion toothbrushes are thrown away each day within the United States, and as a rapidly growing issue over the last 40 years, there just aren’t enough people recycling plastic to help resolve this problem. Currently, only 9% of the world’s plastic is recycled, and one of the bigger issues presented with recyclable options is where those resources come from and how they’re used in today’s products.
One of the biggest terminologies used today to denote a sense of sustainability is “biobased materials.” Biobased materials are made from biomasses such as cellulose or corn and encompass other aspects such as being biodegradable. However, one thing not always noted by these companies is that biobased materials don’t always mean it is biodegradable, and even if labeled biodegradable, it’s not always guaranteed to degrade over time. According to studies from Colombia University, these labels can be misleading, and because materials listed require specific conditions to biodegrade properly, not all products labeled this way are true as they seem.
So, when it comes to that toothbrush that’s marked as eco-friendly, it doesn’t truly mean it will degrade, and that biobased materials aren’t the viable alternative we need yet to start resolving our pollution problem truly. However, with the complexities around plastic pollution and finding better alternatives, the best way we can truly start approaching this problem is to begin being responsible for ourselves and our products.
Plastic Toothbrushes and Their Alternative Options
So, what viable options are there for sustainable toothbrushes? Even as the issue of plastic grows every second, we can still make choices to be as sustainable as possible through becoming pickier about our products, including:
- Bamboo Toothbrushes: Bamboo toothbrushes are gaining the most popularity due to their high amount of advertising and sleek, stylish design.
- Spring-powdered toothbrushes: Instead of electric toothbrushes, some people are choosing a lesser-known option by using spring mechanic toothbrushes that power the toothbrush head and can be better recycled.
- Biodegradable Plastic Toothbrushes: Bio-based plastics that are biodegradable are also a recommended source for brushing your teeth more sustainably, especially when the plastic handles and bristles are made with cellulose or corn.
- Chew sticks: Some options even attempt to remove the toothbrush altogether through sticks from trees such as eucalyptus or other trees that contain antibacterial properties.
For more information about more sustainable options, visit your dentist and arrange an appointment to talk about how you can brush and floss your teeth more sustainably.