Plastic pollution is one of the great environmental challenges of our era, since plastic has an extremely long lifespan in the natural environment and thus accumulates year after year in our lands, waterways and oceans. It has an adverse effect on wildlife, from obstruction and degradation of their habitat, to presenting hazards of entanglement and choking, and the poisoning caused by continuous ingestion of plastic microparticles.
While plastics may have their place in the human economy and the larger ecology, the search for alternative substitutes to the use of plastic in many products is imperative, to thereby reduce the heavy load of plastic pollution which enters the natural environment every year.
Natural alternatives to plastic have been found for many products, from more traditional materials like wood, metal and glass, to newer engineered materials like bioplastics. Bamboo in particular is a great natural and sustainable alternative to plastic in a wide-variety of products and use-cases.
Bamboo has naturally antibacterial properties, and with the right practices its growth and usage are sustainable.
Bamboo plants are a very diverse subfamily of grasses, which include the largest members of the grass family (some species of bamboo can grow more than 80 feet high!) and some of the fastest growing plants in the world, with some species able to grow 3 feet per day!
Taking into account bamboo’s fast and large growth (without the need for chemical fertilizers and pesticides), it is a historically valuable, low-cost timber product (especially in Asia), and together with its growth habit and ability to handle challenging environmental conditions, it is also very useful in afforestation efforts and in the mitigation of climate change. Moreover, many species of bamboo yield edible, delicious and tender shoots for human consumption (and for Panda bears too!).
These same qualities make bamboo an attractive sustainable alternative to more labor-intensive or environmentally less-sustainable materials like slow-growing tree timber or metal and it also makes a great alternative to plastic.
Examples of plastic products which can be alternatively produced at high quality with bamboo are: bamboo tableware (forks, spoons, knives, chopsticks, etc), bowls, cups, straws, cutting boards, disposable plates and toothbrushes. Bamboo’s naturally antibacterial properties also make it a great choice for these items where hygiene is important.
While Ayurvedic and other traditions often prescribed the use of a simple chewing twig from suitable species (like Neem, Peelu or Babul) for brushing the teeth, modern dental hygiene has evolved to use specialized toothbrushes. At first made of natural materials like bone or wood and animal hairs from horses or boars, society began to rely on mass-produced toothbrushes made of plastic. While toothbrushes are very effective in dental hygiene, the proliferation of plastic waste is a cause for concern. It is estimated that over 1 billion toothbrushes will be thrown away in the USA in this year alone, the vast majority of them plastic and non-biodegradable! (Check out this interesting article from National Geographic on the story of plastic toothbrushes and the below short film on the journey of a plastic toothbrush)
As awareness of the dangers of pervasive plastic waste increases, more and more people look for eco-friendly alternatives to their plastic toothbrush. Bamboo toothbrushes are one such very sustainable alternative. Even though bamboo toothbrushes may still be produced with synthetic bristles (as some people do not prefer the use of animal products such as boar hair bristles), this is still a highly desirable improvement over plastic-body toothbrushes.
Auromere Eco-friendly Bamboo Toothbrush
Not sure where to start in replacing your plastic toothbrush? Check out Auromere’s Bamboo Toothbrush, made simply from sustainably-grown bamboo and BPA-free, vegan nylon bristles. Brush confidently and with conscience!