Climate change is pushing us all to do better and be better. We are encouraged to think about sustainability, recyclability, and packaging in everything we buy, including our toothbrushes.
However, many of the eco-friendly options available don’t make dentists smile. Does an eco-friendly electric toothbrush even exist?
There are eco-friendly electric toothbrushes on the market. While not all the components of an electric model are necessarily green, they often last a long time. Thus, eco-friendly electric toothbrushes can be more sustainable than some manual models.
Effectively using a manual rather than an electric toothbrush requires excellent technique and lots of time.
On the other hand, an electric toothbrush can be life-changing if your kids, like mine, struggle with oral hygiene.
But I discovered the world of eco-friendly electric toothbrushes is complicated. Here is some of what I’ve learned, including the pros and cons of various eco-brush heads.
What Are Eco-Friendly Electric Toothbrushes?
Eco-friendly electric toothbrushes try to reduce waste and energy.
As a result, these toothbrushes are more energy-efficient, lasting longer before their rechargeable lithium-ion battery requires recharging or new rechargeable batteries.
They generally accomplish this by offering fewer features and being lighter in weight.
Eco-friendly toothbrushes also don’t need their brush heads replaced too often. When the replaceable heads wear out, they are recyclable or use an eco-friendly material, such as bamboo.
However, how “green” a material is considered is debatable. Research is ongoing, but the favorite plastic alternatives are not the magic solution.
What Is The Best Environmentally Friendly Electric Toothbrush?
An electric toothbrush’s eco-friendly rating depends on priorities. Examples include:
- Recyclable brush heads
- Non-petroleum silicone
- Plastic parts vs. non-plastic
Our Top 3 Picks For Eco-Friendly Teeth Cleaning
Among a sea of alternatives, there are some eco-friendly electric toothbrushes that do seem to shine.
Suri: Eco-Friendly Electric Toothbrush
Suri is a repairable electric toothbrush with a lifetime guarantee, provided you are on the subscription plan.
The brush heads are made from bio-based PLA: a biodegradable plastic typically made from corn starch.
Also, if you live in the USA or UK and are part of their plan, you can send the brush heads back to the company to be recycled (industrial composting still isn’t fully developed).
Foreo Issa 2: Eco-Friendly Electric Toothbrush
Foreo Issa 2 is another highly rated option. The “sonic” electric toothbrush is made from medical-grade silicone, which only requires charging one to two times a year via a USB port.
The bristles of the Foreo are PBT polymer instead of traditional nylon bristles. In addition, the material is bacterial-resistant, giving the bristles a longer life span, so you only change the replaceable heads once a year.
This option is better for my family, as we live outside Suri’s recycling catchment area.
Georganics Sonic Electric Toothbrush
The Georganics Sonic Electric Toothbrush is a toothbrush that uses sonic vibrations to clean teeth.
It ships in plastic-free packaging and comes with a rechargeable battery, and it has a timer to let you know how long to brush for. The brush has two modes: normal and sensitive. It also comes with a travel case.
The company has a recycling program that allows you to send used toothbrush heads back to them for recycling.
I really like the Georganics Sonic Electric Toothbrush. I find that it cleans my teeth really well, and the timer is a great feature.
I also like that it comes with a travel case so I can take it with me on trips. The only downside is that it’s a bit expensive, but I think it’s worth it.
Overall, I would highly recommend the Georganics Sonic Electric Toothbrush.
Eco-Friendly Replaceable Heads For Normal Electric Toothbrushes?
Switching replaceable heads to more eco-friendly materials is generally better for the environment than brush heads with nylon bristles.
Thankfully, there are eco-friendly heads for a standard electric toothbrush to help make your current toothbrush a bit kinder to the environment.
You can even get a hybrid brush head that isn’t fully eco-friendly but better than those that use non-green nylon bristles.
For example, these bamboo toothbrush replacement heads will work on a Philips. Also, LiveCoco makes recyclable heads that are compatible with Oral-B.
Do Toothbrush Manufacturers Offer Recycling Programs?
Some electric toothbrush companies offer recycling programs, depending on where you live. Companies that might have a program operating in your area include:
- Philips Sonicare
If a program is unavailable in your area, it is worth seeing if any recyclable alternative heads will work for your electric toothbrush and location.
Are Electric Toothbrushes Sustainable?
An electric toothbrush can be more sustainable if they are built to last a long time, need infrequent charging, and the heads are used for as long as possible.
There are scenarios where an electric toothbrush is better for the environment than using a manual, especially if the manual is being frequently replaced.
What Types Of Eco-Toothbrush Heads Are Available?
There are three main types of toothbrush heads used in eco-friendly toothbrushes:
- Recyclable Plastic
Each material has its pros and cons.
Bamboo Toothbrush Head Pros And Cons
Bamboo has a reputation for being incredibly environmentally friendly. Manual toothbrushes also favor it.
However, we can’t use it for everything because the earth is only so big. The planet simply doesn’t have enough water and land.
In a 2020 study, it was advised that people don’t use bamboo toothbrushes. Instead, use a manual plastic handle with a replaceable bamboo head.
Then, the handle will last for ages, minimizing how much bamboo needs to be grown and processed.
Thus, a bamboo head ranks highly for an electric toothbrush. But it must be used for as long as possible.
But this is limited as they harbor bacteria. Also, before composting it, the bristles must be pulled out.
The only potentially better option is those year-long silicon heads. But right now, they only work for one toothbrush, and you must buy the whole kit.
Corn Starch Toothbrush Head Pros And Cons
Corn starch electric toothbrush heads do not break down as nicely as everyone would like to believe. But these are only a great option if a person lives near a recycling program (we don’t).
However, these are not much kinder to the earth if tossed in a landfill. So if it is between corn starch and throwing it away vs. plastic and recycling, the plastic wins.
Recyclable Plastic Toothbrush Head Pros And Cons
Recyclable plastic toothbrush heads are a good option for people living close to where they are recycled.
But if these have to be shipped internationally, as some of them do, then the amount of travel they are doing makes them a great idea that is doing not much.
Another factor is the packaging. There are recyclable plastic ones that come in non-plastic recyclable packaging.
However, many of the big-name brands’ recyclable heads do not. Thus, when deciding between corn plastic and recyclable plastic, it comes down to who recycles closest to where you live.
Do Bamboo Toothbrush Heads Harbor Bacteria?
As mentioned earlier, bamboo electric toothbrush heads harbor bacteria, just like nylon bristle toothbrushes. But proper care will reduce bacteria and extend its life.
- Rinse the head thoroughly and then ensure it is dry
- Store the head upright
- Store the head in the open, not in a cupboard
- If traveling, ensure it is fully dry before putting in a case
Is An Electric Toothbrush E Waste?
Yes, if you dispose of an electric toothbrush it does count as electronic waste (E-Waste). But this is only the case if it goes to a landfill.
A manual toothbrush, in general, is one of the worst offenders for polluting the oceans. But plastic toothbrushes, in particular, last for centuries in landfills and eventually end up in waterways.
From there, they find their way into the stomachs of marine creatures who mistake them for food.
An electric toothbrush head might not be used for as long as a manual one, but as I’ve covered you can get more sustainable brush heads as replacements.
Overall electric toothbrushes have a longer lifespan. And when they die, all those parts need to go somewhere.
The head, handle, and charger must all be dealt with individually. This makes them quite annoying to dispose of properly.
The best way to reduce your E-Waste is to buy a toothbrush that will last as long as possible. If you must buy a disposable one, try to find one with recyclable parts.
And if you have an old toothbrush, see if you can recycle it or repurpose it before throwing it away.
5 WAYS TO MAKE ELECTRIC TOOTHBRUSHES LAST LONGER
1. Get a high-quality electric toothbrush in the first place
2. Only use the charger that comes with the toothbrush
3. Store the toothbrush properly
4. Clean the toothbrush regularly
5. Only change replacement heads when necessary
How To Throw Away An Electric Toothbrush Charger
Electric toothbrush chargers have a lot of components. The best way to dispose of them involves breaking them down, so each component is dealt with individually.
1. Wedge a flathead screwdriver into the cracks of the charger to break it open.
2. Take out the rechargeable batteries and take them to a recycling center that handles batteries
3. Find out if the rest of your charger can be recycled in your area
4. If the plastic can be recycled, you need to separate the plastic from anything electric
5. If there is any metal, it might be able to be recycled; thus, do the same as steps 3 & 4
6. Send the metal and plastic to the appropriate places, if possible
Eco-friendly electric toothbrushes are not perfect. But purchasing an electric toothbrush is better for the environment than a regular manual toothbrush because, in the long run, they produce less waste.
Look for models with sustainable components or the ability to use more sustainable brush heads.
Sometimes it is hard to find this information, but it’s worth doing your research before making a purchase.
It would be best if you also considered how easy the toothbrush is to recycle before you buy it. The best options are those that come with recyclable parts.
In the end, it is up to you to decide what is best for you and the environment. But hopefully, this article has given you some food for thought.