One of the questions we see all too often here at Wowe Lifestyle is “why do your bamboo toothbrushes have nylon bristles? Isn’t nylon bad for the environment?” As lovers of the Earth and its many natural wonders, we are passionate about bringing eco-friendly products to our customers everywhere. We put time, effort, and resources into discovering the very best solutions to create a greener world, but sometimes, green alternatives just don’t cut it.
Wowe Lifestyle works hard to offer green alternatives to common, everyday items, but even going green means sacrificing something. In this article, we want to talk about why we use nylon bristles for our toothbrushes, what kinds of natural alternatives exist, and some tips for making your own decisions on the ways you want to go green.
Is Nylon Bad for the Environment?
Nylon is a strong, flexible material, ideal for products that can withstand a lot of friction, and the first choice for many household goods. Perhaps the most famous example of nylon use is for ‘nylons,’ thin, see-through tights used in place of socks or stockings. These well-known tights are the perfect example of the flexibility and strength of nylon, which is able to retain its structure even through pulling, all-day wear, and the friction of legs moving and touching.
Nylon is made from petrochemicals, synthetic products derived from petroleum. Nylon is, from the very start, non-biodegradable, as most petroleum based products are. Nylon production is responsible for relatively high levels of greenhouse gas emissions, infamous for emitting nitrous oxide, a greenhouse gas 310x more potent than carbon dioxide. For these reasons, environmentalists are quick to condemn the use of nylon, calling for alternatives to this strong, flexible, and extremely useful product.
Nylon Toothbrush Bristles
As one of the earliest discovered plastics that could be made into fibers, nylon quickly became a staple for toothbrush manufacturers everywhere. Nylon holds up for weeks against even the most aggressive toothbrushers, and can easily be rinsed and dried without risking redistribution of bacteria from use to use. Nylon is, as of now, the most durable options for toothbrush bristles, and can be manufactured to be softer or firmer depending upon the preferences of the brusher.
Other plastics cannot be formed into the same durable fibers nylon naturally forms, and would not be able to withstand continued use. Before nylon was discovered, toothbrush bristles were made from natural animal hair, but this practice was quickly abandoned in favor of the more durable nylon.
Though nylon has become the accepted material used for toothbrush bristles, there are several alternatives. Here are the pros and cons of the various nylon alternatives currently available in the world of toothbrush bristles:
Sisal is a natural fiber derived from the agave plant, and is most commonly used in the making of fabric, rope, hats, rugs, and other textiles. Recently, Sisal has gained popularity as the fiber most commonly used as bristles on dry brushes. Dry brushing is a practice said to help reduce inflammation and improve lymph drainage throughout the body. Typically too rough for comfortable tooth brushing, sisal should primarily be reserved for textiles and tools.
- Sisal is natural and biodegradable
- Sisal bristles are often too hard and unyielding, scratching the enamel surface of the teeth
- Sisal bristles can cause gum and skin irritation
- Sisal bristles bend and break with continued use, and rarely last more than a few uses before needing replacing
Jute is yet another natural fiber derived from a plant. In this case, Jute is the fiber and the plant, and is the second most affordable natural fiber, second only to cotton. Soft, silky, and easy to produce, Jute fibers are ideal for the production of textiles like curtains, chair coverings, and linoleum backing.
- Jute is natural and biodegradable
- Jute fibers are too soft to hold up to the vigorous job of brushing, and bend far more quickly than nylon or even sisal fibers. This can leave the toothbrush fibers frayed and useless
- Lacking the structure of nylon, jute does not clean or remove plaque as effectively when used for toothbrush bristles
Boar have thick, bristly hair that was commonly used for toothbrushes, hair brushes, and paint brushes prior to the invention of synthetic fibers. Boar bristles are durable, and comparable in feel to nylon bristles, but they come with some serious down-sides.
- Natural and biodegradable
- Stiff and effective at removing plaque and bacteria buildup
- Boar bristles are a direct byproduct of the meat industry. All boar bristles are harvested from dead boar, killed either to be eaten, or purely for the use of their hair. This may not pose a problem for some, but the major negative side effects of the meat industry and the ethics of using boar bristles are enough to make this an unpopular option
- Boar bristles can be too stiff, scratching or causing irritation to the teeth or gums
- Boar bristles do not last very long, and after a few uses become useless, meaning you have to buy more toothbrushes over time
- Some users report a foul odor accompanying their boar hair bristles
The Best Eco-Friendly Toothbrush
Now that you know that toothbrush bristles made of nylon alternatives are rarely a good option, you may still be wondering how you should feel about using nylon. We understand. You want to be choosing the most eco-friendly products, not just for yourself, but for the health of the planet. This problem is complicated, and one that involves a little bit of give and take.
At Wowe, we had to choose between two evils: Non-biodegradable materials or wasteful practices. The Eco-Friendly Natural Bamboo Toothbrush from Wowe is made with biodegradable and compostable bamboo, and non-recyclable nylon. We made this choice for two simple reasons:
- Nylon is the best option for toothbrush bristles. Nylon cleans better and lasts longer than any alternatives, and we wanted our customers to brush their teeth without worrying about toothbrush bristles falling out or their teeth not getting clean enough.
- Using natural toothbrush bristles would result in our customers needing to purchase toothbrushes more often. More toothbrush purchases means more waste, more toothbrushes thrown away, more wasted products, and a higher demand for manufacturing.
Essentially, the choice by Wowe Lifestyle to opt for a nylon bristle on our bamboo toothbrush was to help save customers money, and reduce the overall amount of waste produced by consumers. With the nylon bristles, our toothbrushes can be used longer than those with natural bristles, meaning fewer toothbrushes are ultimately used and manufactured.
The Wowe Eco-Friendly and Natural Bamboo Toothbrush is an incredible plastic toothbrush alternative. Traditional plastic toothbrushes can take hundreds of years to break down, and even then they simply become microplastics, which are easily digestible by wildlife. When you have finished using your Wowe bamboo toothbrush, all you have to do is remove the bristles. Once the bristles have been removed, you can repurpose, recycle, or compost your bamboo toothbrush!
Other Eco-Friendly Household Products
Toothbrushes are a major contributor to global waste and plastic pollution, but they aren’t the only culprits. At Wowe Lifestyle, we know that avoiding plastics is difficult, especially on the go throughout the day. That’s why we have created an incredible line of eco-friendly products and eco-friendly alternatives so you can live a greener, cleaner life.
Another petroleum derived product, single-use plastic bags are a major contributor to global plastic waste. Rather than picking up a new single-use plastic bag every time you go shopping, choose the Reusable Certified Organic Cotton Produce Bags from Wowe instead. These bags come in mesh and solid form, so you can use them to carry produce, bulk products, and more.
Cut down on your plastic use even more by purchasing a Stainless Steel Water Bottle from Wowe, or a pack of 8 Eco-Friendly Stainless Steel Straws. These products are the perfect accessories to help you reduce the amount of plastic you use on beverages and water. Plastic straws, single use coffee cups, and single use beverage containers account for a large portion of global pollution, and are especially present in our oceans.
Wowe Lifestyle goes beyond creating and selling eco-friendly products, we give back as much as possible to support green initiatives for a healthier tomorrow. 1% of all Wowe Lifestyle sales are donated to One Tree Planted, a non-profit dedicated to reforesting/replanting our planet. Additionally, all Wowe Lifestyle products are sold in plastic free eco-friendly packaging, so every part of your purchase supports the environment.
Are you interested in learning more about eco-friendly products and how your choices can help the environment? Visit Wowe Lifestyle to explore everything we have to offer and see tips for going green!