Sustainable Living: swapping plastic toothbrushes for bamboo

Bamboo toothbrushes work just like their plastic predecessors.

So much of what I buy goes straight in the bin after just one use – plastic on the outside of veggies from the supermarket, sandwhich wrappers when I buy lunch on the go, disposable forks and knives for takeaway meals or convenience when hosting friends… And I know I’m not alone when I look at the supermarket shelves and don’t see a mainstream alternative.

For years I thought I was “getting away with it” because I recycle relentlessly. I re-use what I can, and what I can’t I recycle properly. By that I mean food plastics get washed so the food waste doesn’t contaminate the recyclable material, I remove those little plastic windows on envelopes because those aren’ recyclable and the paper is, etc. But recently I learned that, as of 2015, only about 9% of the plastic created has been recycled, 12% incinerated, and 79% accumulated in landfills or the natural environment.

That means that 91% of our plastics don’t get recycled and are essentially waste. This suggests that our current recycling methods don’t work, that the recycling technologies we have are failing us, the planet, and our future. As much as this terrifies me, it’s motivating me to change my habits, to exit the take-make-dispose consumer cycle in as many ways as possible.

One of the easiest plastic swaps I’ve made has been switching to a bamboo toothbrush.

There are many brands of bamboo toothbrushes, and they’re all great for replacing the plastic waste from traditional toothbrushes with something bio-degradable (bamboo!). But even in London this eco-friendly veriosn can be tricky to find – and near me they’re usually stocked as children’s extra soft bristles or adults medium bristles. I can only use soft bristles because of gum issues.

So, I spend about €10 / £9 on a subscription to receive two of these brushes (one for me, one for Jeff) every 3 months via I never need to think about remembering when to replace my toothbrush, and when it’s time I can pull the bristles out with pliers – those go in the bin (sadly there is waste, but at least it’s just the bristles!) – and the handle goes in the recycling. This particular subscription also uses paper packaging and biodegradable PLA protection bag, which I’m happy with.

Financially, this sees us at about the same place that traditional plastic toothbrushes cost; approximately £10 spent on 2 toothbrushes every 3 months.

Have you ever used a bamboo toothbrush? Would you consider it?

Much love, Katie xo

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