They buzz, they oscillate, they practically do the work for you – what’s not to love about electric toothbrushes? For those needing the motivation to brush or craving that fresh-from-the-dentist feeling, electric toothbrushes seem like the perfect answer… that is, until you consider the environmental impact.
If you’re looking for a more eco-friendly option, should you ditch the buzz for manual brushing? Truthfully, that’s probably better, but once you go electric, it can be hard to go back.
Thankfully, electric toothbrush manufacturers are getting on board with eco-friendly solutions. So read on to learn about the best eco-friendly electric toothbrushes available.
Already have an electric toothbrush and want to make it more sustainable? We’ll tell you how you can do that too…
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Are Traditional Electric Toothbrushes Eco-Friendly?
Unfortunately not. None of the materials frequently used to make electric toothbrushes are eco-friendly, least of all plastic. It’s true that you re-use the body, but the heads that you need to switch out every three months are made of a mix of plastics and rarely recycled.
Unlike manual brushes, electric toothbrushes use electricity (often from nonrenewable sources) and are powered by a charger or batteries, which contaminate the environment if disposed of improperly.
In fact, a study conducted by Trinity College Dublin concluded that traditional electric toothbrushes are the least environmentally friendly option for brushing your teeth and called them “fairly horrifying.”
This all makes for grim reading, but don’t worry, we’ve got some great alternative options for eco-friendly electric toothbrushes below.
Can you Recycle Electric Toothbrush Heads or Electric Toothbrushes?
Yes, but recycling every single part can be a big challenge.
The heads and electric components are fairly easy to recycle. Crest + Oral B has a recycling program for used oral care products, including brush heads.
Removable batteries and power cords can usually be dropped off at your local battery and electronics recycling station.
But here’s where it gets tricky. In order to recycle a non-removable battery and the different materials of the body, you have to take it apart and research to find a place that will accept each of those components. Check out this guide to help you fully recycle your electronic brush.
What Makes Eco-Friendly Toothbrushes Different?
When looking for the most environmentally friendly electric toothbrush, search for one with:
- durable and eco-friendly materials
- sustainable packaging
- a long-lasting charge or the option to use rechargeable batteries
- a timer so that you don’t use more electricity than necessary
- a parent company with a recycling program or ambitious sustainability goals
Top Environmentally Friendly Electric Toothbrushes
A perfect eco electric toothbrush doesn’t exist, but there are better options than sticking to the traditional kind. Let’s look at some of your options below.
Silicone Brush with a Superior Charge – FOREO ISSA 2
Durable silicone and PBT polymer make up this ergonomic brush. You only have to charge it and replace the head once a year (yes, year!), and many customers love the gentle bristles.
Others, however, feel that this brush doesn’t clean their teeth as effectively as other brands, so it’s one that people either love or hate.
Half-Metal Brush with a 3-Month Battery Life – Quip (Option with Aluminum Handle)
You’ll practically want to Instagram your dental hygiene routine with this brush. A stylish aluminum handle makes it more durable and less contaminating than plastic brushes, and AAA batteries power it for three months at a time.
Bamboo (& Plastic) Electric Toothbrush – PearlBar Bamboo Electric Toothbrush
This electric toothbrush comes with bamboo heads that can be composted (minus their nylon bristles).
With a charge that lasts for 30 days and zero-waste packaging and delivery, this brush is certainly more sustainable than your standard electric toothbrush.
A Solid Brush in Sustainable Packaging – Georganics Sonic Toothbrush
Although there doesn’t seem to be anything too different about the Georganics electric toothbrush itself, it does come in compostable packaging, and the company has its own send-in recycling program for their brush heads. The plastic body is also BPA-free.
Best of the Big Brands – Oral B Pro1000
If you want a brush from one of the well-trusted brands, you can’t do much better than Oral B, which has a robust recycling program and uses 100% renewable electricity at its North American production sites.
If you want something that will last without breaking the bank, their Pro1000 series gives you a good quality brush without too many expensive bells and whistles.
A Human-Powered Brush – Goodwell Be.Brush (pre-order)
This promising brush might end up being the best eco electric toothbrush on the market. Forget batteries or a charging unit – to power this brush just twist the handle a few times. With a core of stainless steel and heads made of bioresin, Goodwell aims to use innovative and sustainable materials.
Eco-Friendly Toothbrush Heads
If you have a perfectly good electric toothbrush, don’t rush out to buy a new one, just because there might be a more eco-friendly option out there.
The most sustainable thing is to still use what you already have, so try switching to eco-friendly electric toothbrush heads instead for the time being.
Bamboo Heads – Sonicare-compatible Bamboo Heads
These heads are handmade and compostable minus their bristles. The manufacturer pays attention to customer feedback and has adjusted the polish and fit to make them more comfortable.
Cornstarch Heads – PLUS ULTRA Cornstarch Brush Heads
Although these eco toothbrush heads will not break down well in a landfill (despite the deceptive claim), cornstarch-based bioplastics are made from carbon-absorbing plants instead of petroleum, and they are not as contaminating when they do break down.
If you are able to send these to an industrial composting facility (minus the bristles and metal ring), these could truly be a less wasteful choice.
Recyclable Plastic Heads – Live Coco Recyclable Heads
These Oral-B-compatible heads with charcoal bristles can be sent back for recycling once they’ve reached their end-of-life. Live Coco’s program is pretty similar to Oral-B’s recycling scheme, but the fact that these come in packing that’s more sustainable gives them an edge.
Recyclable Plastic Heads – Brand Name Heads (Recycled!)
With Oral-B’s recycling program, pretty much any replaceable heads can be eco-friendly electric toothbrush heads. The same study that called electric toothbrushes “fairly horrifying” also concluded that continually recycled plastic toothbrushes would be more environmentally friendly than using bamboo, so as long as you are recycling plastic heads, you don’t have to feel too bad about buying them.
Zero waste is a journey, and if you’re not ready to give up the luxury of an electric toothbrush, purchase one that’s more sustainable and consider eco friendly toothbrush heads.
At the very least, recycle everything you can and encourage big companies to close the loop with their manufacturing processes and products. With more convenient recycling options, we’d really have something to smile about.