Australians throw away 30 million toothbrushes each year. Each of those 30 million toothbrushes can take up to 1000 years to fully biodegrade in landfill. And for the average tube of toothpaste, it’s 500 years.
Those are horrifying figures, but there are brands out there making brushing your teeth more environmentally friendly – each in their own different way. Some toothbrushes are made from bamboo, others using corn starch, to reduce the plastic waste problem. We’ve picked five brands that are rethinking how to keep our teeth and the environment clean at the same time.
Dr Kyle Turner, a Wiradjuri man and epidemiologist, experienced first-hand what it was like to grow up without access to dental care. To put a stop to that, Turner founded Pearlii, an app that uses artificial intelligence to provide free oral health checks. Pearlii also has its own plant-based toothbrushes, made from Moso bamboo and castor oil bristles, making it entirely compostable. Half of all profits go to the company’s trucks that provide free dental services to vulnerable groups in Australia.
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It’s hard to miss the funky coloured bristle heads of Bamkiki’s ergonomically designed, biodegradable toothbrushes. There are six colours to choose from, including azur (blue), limon (yellow) and kai (aqua). The company uses Moso bamboo for the toothbrush handle, while the bristle head is made from BPA-free nylon and needs to be separated from the handle with gardening scissors before it’s discarded in the bin. For every toothbrush sold, Bambiki donates five per cent of profits to the Royal Flying Doctor Service’s oral health program, which provides basic dental treatment and oral hygiene education to remote communities across the country.
The Humble Co
Swedish company The Humble Co has been making eco-friendly personal care products since 2013. One of its newest additions is a plant-based toothbrush where the handle is made from corn starch, making it 100 per cent biodegradable – it can be thrown out with organic rubbish when you need a new one. The bristles are still made of nylon and need to be separated from the handle before disposal. It comes in eco-friendly packaging made from recycled materials, which can also be thrown out with your organic rubbish. Australian online store Nourished Life sells them in packs of two.
Do any of us really know when it’s time to change our toothbrush? To help take out the guess work, there’s a subscription-based service that will deliver your new toothbrush for free anywhere in Australia. Choose to get a new one every three months for $35 a year or every two months for $50 a year. Toothcrush’s handles are completely biodegradable, made from ethically and sustainably sourced bamboo from China. Plus, its fun range of bristle colours and patterns are rotated throughout the year, so you’ll receive new colour toothbrushes with each delivery.
Environmental Toothbrush is the OG when it comes to bamboo toothbrushes. It was born in 2008 after Brisbane dentist Dr Natalia Taylor witnessed the damage plastic toothbrushes were causing the environment when she was deployed overseas with the Australian Army. Returning to civilian life, she came up with a bamboo toothbrush that’s packaged in recycled cardboard. The toothbrushes are available in packs of 12 ($38), six ($25) or four ($12), and you can even get ones engraved with the names of the seasons to remind you when it’s time to change your brush. Prefer to shop in-store? Environmental Toothbrush has stockists across Australia.
Got your toothbrush? Check out these six toothpastes made with botanical ingredients.
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This article was updated to remove mention of the Australian Dental Association.