Businesses selling a biodegradable bamboo toothbrush online has skyrocketed in the last couple of years. However, are they really 100% biodegradable toothbrushes?
Quoting Stephen Fry,
“The short answer to that is 'no.' The long answer is 'fuck no.”
Most businesses are selling charcoal infused or just nylon bristles with all manner of bamboo handles. A step in the right direction, but not the best we can do.
Certainly better than plastic, but not as they claim ones that can return to the soil any time soon.
There are some companies who do acknowledge this fact. They state that you must remove the nylon-6 or half castor oil bristles and nylon first before composting.
However, the vast majority go on to keep pushing the false claim that they are selling biodegradable toothbrushes. Why?
Well, it could be as in the case of Gaia Guy that they were duped. The manufacturer makes a false claim that the bristles are in fact 100% bamboo charcoal based with no nylon. Later though the company or the shady sales representative "comes clean" as it were. That is the Gaia Guy story so we discontinued those toothbrushes.
Other companies wanting to avoid financial ruin either state that their bristles are actually nylon based and therefore not biodegradable or they continue to market (and lie) that they actually have a biodegradable toothbrush when in fact they don't. Go on Amazon and you can find countless examples of these fraudsters.
Again, Gaia Guy decided to discontinue those nylon-6 (perhaps nylon-4) bristle toothbrushes even though they are vegan-friendly as it just didn’t mesh with the goal of going zero waste.
The only logical and dare it be said ethical thing to do was to introduce Gaia Guy Bamboo and Boar Bristle toothbrushes (link to amazon sale). The goal was always to offer a truly 100% biodegradable toothbrush to the people who believe in and strongly support plastic-free solutions.
There are Nylon 10.10 ones which are a castor oil derived bio-based nylon (notice they still call it nylon).
This was an intriguing option for a vegan-friendly bristle toothbrush indeed. However, it also has been so far removed from its plant-based origin that these also aren’t biodegradable.
Biopolyamides are also used in sports equipment, in the clothing industry and as coating materials. Due to the legislative limits on CO2 emission, depletion of fossil fuels and rising prices of oil, biobased polyamides can be seen as eco-friendly materials comparable to various petrochemical plastics. Some may say that the non-biodegradability of biopolyamides is a disadvantage that makes them less attractive than biodegradable, plant based polymers. (Continue to pdf about bio-based polyamides)
In an age when reducing our carbon footprint couldn’t be more important this material makes sense for many applications. Ones where we need the material to last for 6 months to a year or more. However, a toothbrush should be changed every 2-3 months. So is this really a good solution to the plastic pollution (nylon pollution)?
Still torn to be honest, with the use of these as there are many who may not for ethical reasons be inclined to use a zerowaste toothbrush like a Gaia Guy’s boar bristle toothbrush. (If anyone have a plant-based solution please get in touch.)
However, with the popularity of this natural toothbrush with natural bristles it seems many are more concerned enough with plastic pollution to opt for a totally compostable toothbrush solution.