toothbrush trashEach year 4.7 billion plastic toothbrushes are used and thrown away. To put that into perspective, that is enough toothbrushes to circle the globe over twenty times if they were laid end to end. That’s a lot of plastic! People often throw around the word legacy these days. What will our legacy be? So far, one thing is for sure, plastic is a major part of our legacy. Plastic presents a problem that is here to stay in a shockingly enormous way. In California, there is a company with humble roots that is changing that- Brush with Bamboo.

Before I talk about this revolutionary toothbrush brand, let’s take a look at some plastic facts:

  • Globally, we use about 300 million tons of plastic annually.
  • Approximately 8 million of those tons of plastic end up in the ocean every year.
  • More plastic was made in the first ten years of this century than in the entire previous century.
  • Half of all plastic is used for less than 12 minutes.
  • Plastic takes about 450 years to biodegrade often containing toxins such as BPA and phthalates.
  • 92.6% of Americans over six years old have detectable levels of BPA in their bodies. Children under the age of six have nearly twice the BPA concentration as people over the age of six.
  • The average American throws out almost 200 pounds of plastic a year.

When exercising conscious consumerism, plastic takes an immediate hit to the gut. Yet, it’s easy to forget about the sneaky bathroom cabinet and those slim toothbrushes that hide inside, just waiting to head to a landfill, or to end up floating in the oceans. Brush with Bamboo gives us an eco-friendly alternative, and with one “vote with the wallet” at a time we can collectively reshape our legacy. What this clever family operated company has come up with is the world’s first plant-based toothbrush.

bamboo toothbrush

The concept of this earth-loving toothbrush is unique. Brush with Bamboo balances what we have gotten used to, and the performance we expect, with being environmentally responsible. The product’s handle is made from, you guessed it, bamboo- organic wild Chinese Mosa bamboo. This pesticide-free bamboo grows wild in mountains, fed with only natural rainwater, and is sustainably harvested. The bristles, composed of 62% castor bean oil and 38% plastic, are recyclable. Other “fully biodegradable” toothbrush companies use pig hair bristles. I don’t know about you, but I would rather make an effort to recycle than support a by-product of the swine industry, let alone brush my teeth with it.

The BWB toothbrush comes in a plant-based wrapper and biodegradable box. There are some caveats here that require a little light-lifting to help this product have a healthy lifecycle. The bristles have to be removed with pliers in order to be recycled, and the wrapper is made from PLA, Polylactic Acid, mostly cornstarch, and has to be commercially composted. Caveat over- and what you do get is a toothbrush that is BPA-free, vegan, and a “USDA Certified Biobased Product” that is verified non-toxic.

Creative Brush with Bamboo Recycling
Creative Brush with Bamboo Toothbrush Recycling

The Experience

So what is using a Brush with Bamboo toothbrush like? Curious, I gave their toothbrush a go. When I first held the brush in my hand it was a different feeling, and I recognized how familiar I was to the plastic toothbrushes I’ve been using since I was a young kid. I immediately had a fear when I remembered that I hated to lick the wooden stick inside a popsicle when I was young. Reaching the middle a frozen treat and licking wood used to give me shivers like nails down the chalkboard. But, my fears were for naught… the BWB toothbrush had a neutral non-invasive “taste”, and I immediately loved the soft bristles on my gums. The bristles felt different as I usually use a “medium” toothbrush, and the bristles on the Brush with Bamboo toothbrush are “soft”. I realized that when I use the BWB toothbrush, I brush longer with the pleasant soft bristles, massaging the gums- my dentist would be proud.

What I like most about Brush with Bamboo is that they don’t claim to be perfect. They see a monstrous problem and are genuinely doing their best to be a part of the solution. BWB is likely the only company I’ve ever seen that has an FAQ about their products in which they point people to other “green” oral care alternatives. They highlight the flaws in their product, like the minimal use of plastic in the bristles, but they are making something that can truly make a difference with the best technology currently available.

I also love the fact that this is a family-founded operation that not only makes really cool toothbrushes, but also is super into organic gardening and has started an initiative to encourage people to grow their own food. The Kumars turned their suburban home from a regular grass-filled property into an organic oasis that produces a stunning five thousand pounds of food a year. They put together a great video to tell their story…

Brush with Bamboo offers a diverse line of oral care products consisting of toothbrushes for adults and children, a stainless steel tongue cleaner, neem sticks, and bamboo toothbrush travel cases. They retail directly through their website and in select retailers nationwide. I’d recommend giving the BWB toothbrush a shot- worst case, you will feel good about being a part of the solution, and who knows, you might just fall in love with a new kind of toothbrush for the rest of your life.

(Author’s note: this is not a sponsored blog. However I did receive a courtesy sample of the product to try.)

For more information about the Plastic Problem:

The Five Gyres Institute

Plastic Oceans Foundation

Plastic Pollution Coalition

Ocean Crusaders – Plastic Statistics