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What is the most sustainable toothbrush?

A scientific study uncovers the truth about oral care sustainability

The first ever scientific study to quantify the environmental impact of toothbrushes was published in the British Dental Journal in 2020. Here is what they found…

Environmental and human impact studied

Researchers at Trinity College Dublin, in collaboration with Eastman Dental Institute at University College London, performed a life-cycle assessment (LCA) study on the sustainability of toothbrushes.

Their goal was to ascertain which kind of toothbrush is best for the planet and human health.

Child brushing with a lime green kids Nada eco-friendly toothbrush with a metal handle and replacement toothbrush heads
Electric toothbrush, disposable plastic toothbrush, bamboo and Nada toothbrush
Which toothbrushes were compared?

Researchers considered different manufacturing models and measured the environmental impact (carbon footprint) and human health impact (Disability-Adjusted Life years or DALYS) of the following toothbrushes: Electric toothbrush, Plastic (disposable) toothbrush, Plastic toothbrush with replaceable head and Bamboo toothbrush.

The losers

Not surprisingly, the disposable and electric toothbrushes did not do well in the study. In fact electric toothbrushes proved to be 5 times worse than disposables for planetary and human health, mostly due to the manufacturing process.

An electric and seven disposable plastic toothbrushes on a wooden shelf
The most sustainable toothbrush is…

This might come as a surprise to some, but bamboo toothbrushes are not the most sustainable mainly due to the land and water requirements needed to grow bamboo.

The best toothbrush is a toothbrush that uses plastic which is recycled in a continuous process.

From the lead researcher:

“We have also shown bamboo toothbrushes are not the answer. Using them just stops land from being put to better use such as helping biodiversity, or in growing forests to offset carbon emissions.

There are billions of toothbrushes used and discarded every year. Our research shows that electric toothbrushes are actually harmful for the planet and to the people involved in the manufacturing process and distribution.

There is not a lot of evidence to show they are more effective unless you struggle to clean your teeth with a normal toothbrush.”

Dr Brett Duane, Lead Researcher and Associate Professor, Public Dental Health, Trinity College

The article also states: “We need a system where plastic toothbrushes can be collected like batteries and then recycled into new products.

While the study called it a “hypothetical toothbrush,” it exists.

Meet Nada toothbrush—an aluminium handle you keep for life, and brush heads we take back and have recycled into plastic pellets for use in new products.

Nada Toothbrush

Regular price$22.99
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1 Aluminum Handle + 3 Brush Heads

Color

1 Aluminum Handle

Rinses clean—no toothpaste or bacteria buildup
• Lays flat—won’t roll over when you put it down
• Reduces plastic waste & infinitely recyclable

3 Replaceable Brush Heads

• Soft tapered bristles, for a gentler, deeper clean
• Elevated Brush heads won’t touch dirty surfaces
• Return to be 100% recycled

Nada brush heads and bristles are 100% recyclable. Please return your used ones in the pre-addressed envelope included with your order. We send them to be recycled into plastic pellets. ♻️ Learn More

Our Guarantee – If you’re not completely satisfied with your order, return it within 30 days and we’ll refund your money 😁. 

Lifetime Warranty – If you have a problem with your toothbrush, we'll make it right.

Sources

Journal Reference: Lyne, A.,et al. (2020) Combining evidence-based healthcare with environmental sustainability: using the toothbrush as a model.

Read the Study