Plastic vs Bamboo – why make the change?

There is a lot of discussion about plastic vs bamboo, so I thought I’d see what the fuss was about! I have got to admit, changing my toothbrush wasn’t the first thing I thought of when I was looking at ways to reduce plastic! The more I’ve read about it though, the more I’ve learned that it’s actually a pretty easy change that will make a huge difference.

Did you know that toothbrushes are predominantly made from polypropylene plastic and nylon?
And did you know that neither of these will break down when they are in landfill?

This means that every plastic toothbrush that you have used throughout your life is still out there somewhere, and will be for many lifetimes to come yet! Dentists recommend that we change our toothbrushes every 3 months. Assuming that we all follow that advice, in the UK alone that’s potentially 264 million toothbrushes that are thrown away every year. It is estimated that worldwide, this number is closer to 3.5 billion! That’s a LOT of plastic!

Toothbrushes have been made of all sorts of things over the years. From chewing on twigs in 3,000BC, through to making toothbrushes from horse hair and bone (I’m glad we’d moved on from this before I was born!), to the plastic toothbrushes that were developed in the 20th century!

What’s the alternative?

I’ve looked into several different options and came to the conclusion that bamboo would be the best alternative for me. What I didn’t realise is that looking for an environmentally friendly alternative wasn’t as simple as walking into the shop and buying any bamboo toothbrush! There are toothbrushes made from bamboo that is watered excessively to help with quick growth. Some are made from bamboo that is harvested through deforestation. Others are made using sustainable bamboo forests. You can find out more about the brand that I chose by clicking here.

I was apprehensive about using a bamboo toothbrush for the first time having always used plastic ones. It felt strange at first because it is a completely different texture to what I’ve been used to. However, it still cleans my teeth and now that I’ve got used to the different shape I don’t think twice about picking it up.

When it’s time to change your toothbrush, the bamboo handles can literally just be buried in the garden to decompose themselves. Sadly the bristles themselves aren’t yet biodegradable. They need to be cut off and disposed of in the usual way. But a few bristles going to landfill is better than a whole toothbrush!

But what if you don’t want to change your plastic toothbrush?

If you don’t want to change your toothbrush, there are still things that you can do to! It’s amazing how many other things a toothbrush can be used for to prolong its life. These are just a few that I’ve come across:

  • Cleaning jewellery or shoes
  • Cleaning bathroom tiles and toilets (although personally I’m not sure how I feel about cleaning the toilet with a toothbrush?)
  • Combing eyebrows (again, not sure about this one either!)
  • Children’s painting, which sounds like great fun
  • Cleaning computer keyboards
  • Touching up hair dye (not sure about how this would go either!)

When it comes to making small changes, what if more people swapped their toothbrushes? For some people this isn’t an option as they use electric toothbrushes and that’s fine. Some people will only use plastic toothbrushes and that’s their choice too. But what about those of us who don’t? If we swapped to using toothbrushes made from sustainable sources rather than plastic ones, think of the difference that we could make!