My husband and I travelled to the Faroe Islands. These are a set of eighteen islands in the middle of the North Atlantic Ocean. They are very remote and occupied by families who have been there since the time of the Vikings. We stayed in a very small village at the top of one of the islands called Tjornavik. Rugged, remote, virtually treeless, with constant waterfalls and towering mountains and cliffs surrounded by a brooding sea it was the last place that we thought we would find plastic toothbrushes washed up on the black sand shore.Of course we picked them up off the beach and disposed of them but it was the last straw for me. How ever they got there – I don’t know, but it’s just one of the many articles floating across our oceans made of plastic and not only causing an eyesore but also distributing Microplastics as they disintegrate in the sun, the wind and the relentless currents.
As part of the plastic free manifesto – toothbrushes were the first item that I used every day that needed to be replaced. It also occurred to me that all that abrasion daily with bits of nylon and plastic no doubt ended in me swallowing plastic – but no one has confirmed this for me. It’s just a hunch I have. The sooner all that plastic was out of my mouth the better. This should be easy I thought. This is something people have been bothering to change. I should be able to find a completely plastic free toothbrush easily. How wrong I was.
There is a huge market for plastic free items because good people are realising the plastic related damage that is occurring. However one plastic free toothbrush is not like the next.
Here is my guide after quite a bit of toothbrush related searching.
Plastic with Nylon Bristles Toothbrush
This is your standard supermarket toothbrush in all its many forms. Go to any supermarket in Australia and they are the only thing on offer. Result: zero hoorays for plastic free.
OH! So much high speed plastic and Microplastics release potential. Result: NO, just no on many levels.
Bamboo and Nylon Bristles Toothbrush
This one fooled me for a while. Initially I was excited about the bamboo handle and all the enviro friendly talk. Okay, its handle is bamboo – points for that but the bristles are nylon. They get abrasion, all the time rubbing against your teeth and thus are most likely to release Microplastics. They also release Microplastics when thrown out. Result: This gets a hesitant hooray for the handle but then bombs out with the plastic bristles. Why bother making a semi plastic free item and pass it off as better for the environment? All that effort and then it’s still got plastic bristles.
Bamboo and Bamboo Bristles Toothbrush (including carbon or charcoal impregnated bristles)
This seems to be heading in the right direction. It’s got a bamboo handle – yay! It’s got bamboo bristles impregnated with charcoal. This is a winner right? Maybe not. The semi-synthetic bamboo bristles impregnated with charcoal sound very semi synthetic – part of the manifesto is to reject semi synthetics at this time as semi synthetic cellulose fibres are also being found in the ocean samples and look to have much the same effect as Microplastics. Those little sea creatures don’t know it’s unnatural and they can’t eat it effectively resulting in illness and death and then a release of these particles back into the system as their minute bodies naturally rot away. I genuinely think these manufacturers thought it was perfect – I did too until I did more research into semisynthetic Microparticles. Result: “Hoora….oh?” Sorry guys it’s another almost. Not enough data to rule out long term problems with these.
Wheat Straw Plastic Composite and Bamboo Bristles Toothbrush (including carbon or charcoal impregnated bristles)
I just want to scream at this greenwash I mean guys. Regenerated wheat plant cellulose blended with plastic and then semi-synthetic bristles. I think you can see where this is leading. Gah! There is also a charcoal impregnated version too. Result: How does their marketing department sleep at night? Maybe not evil, just very uneducated about what it is they are doing?
Cellulose Acetate and Boar Bristles Toothbrush
I thought this one was a winner too but unfortunately cellulose acetate is the bugbear here – it’s the same plastic that makes cigarette filters which are producing Microplastics in the ocean currently so it’s a nope as well but the boar bristles are okay as far as a natural product to be used on your teeth. Some people will probably disagree with me but the level of destruction of of plastic and Microparticles in the environment far out way the use of the bristles of a slaughtered for food boar/pig. It’s a good way to respect and not waste anything that the creature gave up and you don’t get a mouth of plastic Microparticles either.
Bone and Boar Bristles
Traditional and used for some time until the rise of plastic. The handles are made from bone and the bristles from a boar/pig. If you were a meat eater then you know that bones are not generally eaten. They are a strong natural material and again no waste from an animal raised for food. His bristles are used and the bone is used. When the brush finally fails from use it doesn’t harm the environment as it is pure bone and pure bristle which the planet has been dealing with quite well for millions of years. Result: HOORAY! This is good one. I have found a few on ETSY.
Bamboo and Boar Bristles
A slight alteration from the toothbrush above by having a handle made from bamboo but I can’t see any foreseeable problems with this fast growing grass being used for handles – you can see the grain and the joint marks in a real bamboo handle not made of bamboo and plastic composite. The Boar Bristles are the same as above. The only noticeable problem with our toothbrushes is if they get wet for a long period a little bit of mole can appear on the end of the handle. A little sand down with pumice remove this. Result: HOORAY! This is another good one. I have found these with only one company so far online and they don’t know I am writing this. Gaia Guy ships these out in a nicely designed cardboard tube, unfortunately this tube arrived in a plastic bag but we will get there. The bristles are great against our teeth and we are not getting a mouth of Microplastics.
Wood and Boar Bristles
There is also a wooden version of the boar bristle brush described above. You can find these one for sale with the folks from Life Without Plastic. Click here
Please write and let me know if you have found any other good suppliers of truely plastic free, synthetic free and semi-synthetic free toothbrushes
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