The place you go to get clean can sometimes be where you get the dirtiest. No, not like that. Get your head out of the gutter, we are talking about toothbrushes here.
Between shampoo bottles, toothpaste tubes, blunt razors and sanitary products, the bin in the bathroom might be the one that fills up with the most plastic around the house. In an attempt to reduce that, we at AlterEco have tested bamboo toothbrushes to see if they are worth the hype.
The first time I tried bamboo toothbrushes was about a year ago. I bought a pack of four from a random brand on Amazon because they were cheaper than the big Instagram brands in my local zero waste store.
They came packaged in card which was really cool, and as soon as I opened one, my fears of the wood being too rough to put in my mouth completely vanished.
Both the handle and the head are pretty smooth and, even though the bamboo obviously has a bit of a taste to it, it is very easy to get used to it and does not, in any way, make it feel less sanitary.
However, the disappointment was all in the bristles. If you take away the stylish wood handle, the toothbrush itself compares to a 10p toothbrush that you might receive as a complimentary gift on long-haul flights.
After using it for the first time, I had to check my Amazon order to make sure I didn’t specifically get a set of soft brushes. And I was right – I didn’t it. They were just that bad.
I quickly downgraded that toothbrush to where it belongs -lying at the bottom of my travel toiletry bag. Two months later, I opened its case and a disgusting powdery layer of brown mould had formed on the handle.
I chucked the brush immediately, gave the three remaining ones to an eco-hippie friend, and reverted to plastic ones.
A few weeks ago, I got an ad on Facebook for Brushbox, one of those subscription services for razors and toiletries that delivers straight to your door every few months. This specific one offers various types of bamboo toothbrushes, toothpaste, dental floss (that though is still plastic) and tongue scrapers.
I got their starter pack, which included one toothbrush and two small tubes of toothpaste. The box claims that what is inside would last me two months. And yes, that is how long a normal toothbrush would last me, so I was willing to give it a try, hoping that the make of this brand was better than the one I used before.
When my box arrived and I opened my toothbrush from its plastic packaging, I saw that it looked identical to my first pack, except of course for the name of the brand imprinted on the handle, which made me think that all these bamboo toothbrush brands that are popping up are just retailers for the same wholesale product.
It’s not been three weeks of me using it and this is the state of my toothbrush.
I have already cancelled my subscription and given up completely on bamboo brushes. Especially because, even with this one, I have no idea what to do with it after I am done with it.
Do I put it in the compost because it’s wood? But what about the bristles? Am I supposed to cut them away? And what is the point if I just throw it in the normal bin?
Personally, I don’t believe they are worth their price. And unless you are going to post selfies of brushing your teeth, you don’t even have anyone to impress with your eco-friendly oral hygiene. So, until someone makes a bamboo toothbrush that is actually good, I’d say skip them.