7 Sustainable Electric Toothbrushes: Plus a Foreo vs. SURI Cage Match

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Written by Lydia Noyes

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Lydia Noyes

Climate Journalist

Lydia Noyes is an organic farmer and climate journalist. She is a member of the USC Annenberg Center for Health Journalism.

Updated:

Disposable toothbrushes create an estimated 50 million pounds of waste annually. Here are our top picks for energy efficient, eco-friendly, electric toothbrushes that are easier on the planet.

SURI toothbrush in UV case
Our SURI electric toothbrush after several months of testing!

The waste generated by disposable toothbrushes is staggering. According to National Geographic, one billion toothbrushes are thrown away in the United States every year. If you care about the planet, buying a sustainably made toothbrush that is built to last can make a difference. In this piece, we will highlight the best eco-friendly toothbrushes that are easy on the environment.

We tested the Foreo Issa 3 against the SURI toothbrush to see which performs better.

Here, we’ve compared top electric toothbrushes to determine which models come out ahead from a functionality, value, and environmental sustainability standpoint. We’ve looked at factors like the power source, product longevity, materials, company manufacturing practices, and recycling potential. 

Each model on this list should help you maintain a cleaner mouth without making poor decisions for the planet. Some of the models here come in under $50, while others cost closer to $300, meaning that you can make the right decision for your budget. 

Curious about how we rate products? Click here to view our methodology, which at its core, is about voting with our dollars to fight climate change.

1

SURI Electric Toothbush

Leaf Score

Highlights: Though it’s made of simple, eco-friendly materials, the SURI brush earns major points for functionality as well. You’ll find little to complain about as you use it.

What we like

  • Modular, repairable design
  • compostable brush head
  • no plastic packaging
  • No compromises on cleaning power
  • Brush lasts 40 brushing sessions per charge

What could be better

  • Can only be composted industrially
  • Limited personalization
  • May not feel powerful enough for intense brushes
  • Replacement brush heads easily break getting stuck in the toothbrush
  • Price: $92, or $116 for a brush and UV case
  • Charging Style: Internal battery charged by a slimline charger
  • Includes: Brush, magnetic mirror mount, slimline charger, UV case (optional upgrade)

SURI (Sustainable Rituals) is an electric toothbrush brand making environmental sustainability one of its defining features. The brush boasts a modular design with component parts that can be replaced, recycled, and even composted when worn out.

Its brush head is made from sustainably sourced cornstarch with castor-oil bristles and will break down within weeks in an industrial composter. Each order includes a prepaid mailer that lets you ship back spent brush heads so SURI can compost them. The brush’s body is an aluminum shell that’s waterproof and recyclable. You can return the brush for repairs if it breaks during your warranty.

our experience with the suri toothbrush

After 9 months of everyday use, we can say that SURI is simply a great electric toothbrush. The streamlined design means it doesn’t offer much variation in functionality, but the default mode should work well for almost all users. It runs for two minutes per session, with haptic feedback every 30 seconds to encourage you to switch mouth quadrants. The gentle buzzing provides a surprisingly robust 33,000 sonic vibrations per minute—more than enough for your teeth to feel clean. Its battery is also impressively long-lasting, as the brush can take up to 40 days on a single charge before you’ll need to use the included slimline charger. We do wish the magnetic mirror mount wasn’t stickum, but a magnet on both sides. Once you stick it to the medicine cabinet or mirror, it can’t be moved. The UV case may seem like overkill to some, but when you factor in its utility as a second charger, we think it’s worth the extra money.

SURI toothbrush in UV case

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2

Foreo ISSA 3 Electric Toothbrush

Leaf Score

Highlights: Foreo’s newest generation toothbrush improves on its predecessors with a silicone brush head that’s twice as strong with 360-degree flex and a low-battery indicator that lets you know when it’s time to recharge.

What we like

  • Low-battery indicator LED lets you know when it’s time to charge
  • Smart memory feature remembers your brush settings between uses
  • Stronger silicone bristles than its predecessor the ISSA 2 which was an important upgrade over the older model, which used to “shed bristles”

What could be better

  • Not necessarily a huge upgrade if you already have the ISSA 2
  • Price: $189
  • Power Source: internal battery charged by USB cable
  • Includes: ISSA 3 brush base, hybrid brush head, USB charger, travel pouch

Foreo’s ISSA electric toothbrush redefines the industry with a battery-operated brush that it claims needs to be charged via USB just once or twice a year. Having used the previous generation electric toothbrush by Foreo, the ISSA 2, we found the “charge once a year” claims to be a bit of an exaggeration (our ISSA 2 needed to be charged about 4 times a year for optimal performance), but this is an energy efficient toothbrush nonetheless, and we will report back on how long the ISSA 3 battery lasts.

The ISSA 3 brush utilizes sonic pulse technology and offers 16 adjustable intensities, so it works for regular and sensitive brushers alike. It’s made from non-toxic, petroleum-free silicone that the company claims are 35 times more hygienic than regular nylon bristles. The back of the brush also contains a tongue cleaner, and the bristles’ angled design makes it easy to reach the back of your teeth. 

As the top-tier Foreo toothbrush, the ISSA 3 wants to be the last brush you ever reach for. Like the earlier models, the ISSA 3 claims to have a staggeringly efficient battery life that will last through 365 uses per two-hour charging session.

This model gets an upgrade over the ISSA 2 with brush bristles that are twice as strong, and a low-battery indicator LED light. It offers 16 levels of intensity like the ISSA 2, but with an added smart memory feature that remembers your preferred settings between sessions. The included tongue and cheek cleaner make it easier than ever to enjoy an entirely clean mouth. In fact, the company claims that the ISSA 3 proved through clinical testing to improve overall oral hygiene by 140%.

Thanks to the brush’s Sonic Pulse Technology, it gently cleans teeth and gums without causing irritation, making it an ideal choice for those with sensitive gums or problems being too abrasive on their enamel.

At $20 more than the ISSA 2, the ISSA 3 is likely worth the upgrade if you’re buying for the first time. But, if you already own an earlier model Foreo brush, these improvements are probably ones you can pass on. 

our experience with the foreo issa 3

The team at LeafScore were fans of the ISSA 2 Foreo model, but didn’t like the excessive plastic packaging with replacement brush heads, and the propensity of the old toothbrush heads to shed bristles as they wore down. Foreo has tried to fix these issues with the new ISSA 3. The bristles are noticeably stronger, and more robust than the ISSA 2.

3

Georganics Sonic Toothbrush

Leaf Score

Highlights: This eco-friendly electric toothbrush is shipped with plastic-free packaging, and you can return the brush heads to the company for recycling.

What we like

  • Built-in timer ensures even and consistent brushing
  • Brush heads can be sent back to the company for recycling
  • Shipped with plastic-free packaging

What could be better

  • Shipping adds up if you live outside of the UK. Between initial intercontinental shipping, and then return shipping to recycle the brush heads, carbon emissions may outweight what you save by using this toothbrush.
  • Price: $97.85
  • Charging Style: lithium battery, charging stand
  • Includes: plastic brush handle with lithium battery, replaceable brush head, charging stand

For those in the UK, Georganics offers the ultimate in eco-friendly electric toothbrushes with its recyclable toothbrush. 

Similar to its competition, the brush works with three speed adjustments for a stroke speed up to 35,000 rotations per minute. Its built-in two-minute timer alerts you every thirty seconds to change your brushing quadrant, and the entire brush is certified waterproof for safe use in the shower. The Sonic Brush also includes three stroke speeds to make it adaptable for those who have mouth sensitivities or are going through orthodontia work. The brush runs off a lithium-ion battery, and you can expect a full charge to last up to five weeks. 

Georganics makes their commitment to ecological sustainability clear with a ‘Zero To Landfill’ program that allows you to send your used brush heads back to the company for recycling. 

Note:  the heads include nylon bristles that can’t be recycled at home. Each brush is also shipped out with plastic-free packaging for less guilt on the onset. 

When purchasing, make sure you specify where you want a type C 2 pin plug (for use in the EU and UK) or a type A plat pin plug (USA).

4

Oral-B Genius X Electric Toothbrush

Leaf Score

Highlights: This high-end brush connects with your phone for extra information on your brushing habits, and you can purchase recyclable brush heads to improve its sustainability.

What we like

  • Bluetooth inclusion lets you pair this brush to your smartphone
  • Oral B as a company is making impressive strides towards sustainability
  • Premium materials should last for years, resulting in fewer wasteful replacements

What could be better

  • Certainly a premium item with a pricetag to match
  • We’d like to see the brush itself made with more recyclable materials
  • Price: $210
  • Power Type: Lithium-Ion battery 
  • Includes: Rechargeable handle, three brush heads, charger, travel case 

As a premium option from the number one recommended brush brand by dentists, the Oral-B Genius X utilizes artificial intelligence to coach you into better brushing habits. The company claims it has learned thousands of human brushing behaviors, which allows it to recognize your brushing style in real-time and offer personal coaching to improve your technique. 

This brush includes Bluetooth technology that lets you pair it with your smartphone for detailed insight on your brushing effectiveness based on whether you cover all areas and apply appropriate amounts of pressure. 

From a functionality standpoint, this premium toothbrush’s rotating bristles perform 48,000 brush movements per minute (compared to 600 for a manual toothbrush), making it a powerful plaque remover. It also includes six brushing modes, including sensitive and whitening. 

As a company, Oral B is making moves towards sustainability by relying on 100% renewable energy across its North American manufacturing sites—the equivalent of taking 10,000 cars off the road a year. These manufacturing sites are also certified Zero-Manufacturing-Waste-to-Landfill, meaning that more than half of all waste is immediately recycled, while the rest is converted back to energy. 

Though the brush itself doesn’t stand out for its environmental sustainability, it’s made from premium materials that should last for years before breaking down. You can also purchase recyclable brush heads (View Price on Amazon) to bring the brush closer to zero-waste. Likewise, the rechargeable lithium-ion battery offers a greener way to power it, especially if your home utilizes renewable energy.  

5

Philips Sonicare DiamondClean Smart 9700 Series

Leaf Score

Highlights: As one of Philips’ top models, this brush includes Bluetooth capabilities and five brush modes. It might be more toothbrush than most people need, but its quality design should ensure it lasts you for years to come.

What we like

  • Ships with 8 brush heads, which should keep you going for a while
  • Bluetooth technology links the toothbrush to your phone to help improve brushing habits
  • It’s rugged and durable, which cuts back on the need to constantly replace (and waste)

What could be better

  • Like the Oral-B Genius, this carries a premium pricetag
  • Proprietary charging system leaves you with no choice but to buy a new charger if you accidentally break the one that came with it
  • Price: $299
  • Power Source: Lithium-ion battery
  • Includes: Diamond clean handle, eight brush heads, glass charger, USB charging travel case 

If you’re looking for a top-tier electric toothbrush experience, it’s hard to beat the Philips Sonicare DiamondClean series. 

Your teeth will benefit from up to 62,000 brush movements a minute, which purportedly work to remove ten times more plaque than a manual brush. It includes three intensity levels and five modes (clean, white, gum health, deep clean, and tongue care), and a pressure sensor to alert you if you’re brushing too hard to protect your gums.

Like the Oral B Genius X, the brush connects with your smartphone through the company’s app for personalized coaching and real-time feedback on your brushing effectiveness. You can use the app to set oral health goals and track your progress towards meeting them. Also included is a 3D mouth map feature, which lets you highlight dentist-suggested trouble spots, so the brush reminds you to give them extra attention. 

A high price demands premium styling, and this electric toothbrush stands out with its glass cup charging base (similar to how you can wirelessly charge a cellphone). Simply plop the brush in after use and pull it out again when you’re ready for another round—no messing with alignment required. Also included are four styles of brush heads and a travel-friendly USB charging case.

As a company, Philips has gone public with its goals to become 100% carbon neutral and source all of its electricity through renewable sources by 2020. It’s not clear at the moment how close the company is to meeting these targets. 

Ecologically speaking, what the DiamondClean has most going for it is that you’ll want to hold onto it for a long time to justify the price. Customer reviews indicate it’s a rugged piece of equipment that should last through heavy use. Also note that the brush makes it easy to swap out heads, meaning that multiple family members can use one base. 

However, you’re out of luck if the charging glass breaks or you lose the USB powered travel case, as you can’t charge the brush through any other method. 

6

Quip Electric Toothbrush Set

Leaf Score

Highlights: Quip’s sleek design and replaceable battery make it the perfect electric toothbrush for an on-the-go lifestyle, though replacement heads get pricey without a subscription.

What we like

  • Offered as a quarterly subscription that eliminates the need for guesswork as to whether it’s time to replace brush heads
  • Brush bases are made from recycled plastic or metal
  • Brush heads are fully recyclable, with the exception of their nylon bristles
  • Lack of charging stand ultimately means less plastic waste produced

What could be better

  • The best value is through a subscription, which may be a polarizing factor
  • Quip brushes are at their most sustainable when used with rechargeable batteries, which not everyone may have
  • Price: $35
  • Power Source: AAA battery
  • Includes: Slim handle brush, soft-bristled brush head, AAA battery, cover

Imagine an electric toothbrush that doesn’t look out of place on Instagram, and you’ve got an idea of what Quip is offering. This sleek, millennial-friendly model runs on a single AAA battery, which the company provides in its quarterly subscription refill packages. For $5 every three months, you’ll receive a new brush head and battery. Pay an extra $5, and you’ll get toothpaste as well.  Forgo the subscription, and you’ll pay $15 per head instead. 

Despite their minimalist design and low price, Quip brushes deliver to keep your teeth clean. They include a two-minute timer that pulses every thirty seconds to keep you on track, and the brush heads have a tongue scraper on the back. 

Quip motors power 15,000 brush movements per minute, and the brushes have soft bristles that are known for being gentle on teeth. This makes them ideal for overly aggressive brushers or those with sensitive gums. If you’re used to a more vigorous electric toothbrush, you might miss that “squeaky clean” feeling when you use one.

Environmentally, Quip brushes stand out. The brush bases are made from metal or recycled plastic that is designed to last for the long term, and the brush heads are fully recyclable, save the nylon bristles. You also don’t need to mess with a charging stand like with most other brands. According to the company, this means the brushes result in up to 80% less plastic waste over their lifespan compared to traditional brands. 

Some people will love that the brush runs off a replaceable battery. This is a limiting factor for many electric toothbrushes—the battery is usually the first component to go, rendering your expensive brush no better than a manual. Allowing you to replace the battery yourself, in contrast, may extend its lifespan and gives you the option to use rechargeable AAA batteries instead (View Price on Amazon) – bonus points if you charge them off a renewable energy supply! 

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7

Oral-B Pro 1000

Leaf Score

Highlights: This budget-friendly Oral-B brush includes essential electric toothbrush features and can support dozens of different brush head styles (including recyclable ones).

What we like

  • Timer helps to ensure consistent brushing while being used
  • Brush heads are designed to be 100% recyclable as long as they’re sent back
  • Pressure sensor helps to cut back on hard brushing

What could be better

  • Made from relatively cheap plastic materials that won’t last as long as more premium models
  • Only one mode for brushing
  • Price: $50
  • Power Type: Lithium-ion battery
  • Includes: Rechargeable brush, brush head, 220v charger

For those interested in a stripped-down electric toothbrush from a leading brand, the Oral-B Pro 1000 delivers all the essential features without excessive bells and whistles. It includes a two-minute timer that pulses every thirty seconds to direct you to a different mouth quadrant. While the brush has only one mode, its included pressure sensor stops pulsations when you’re brushing too hard and need to ease up. Expect it to last a week or longer between charges. 

At $40, this brush is one of the more affordable mainstream options. The rechargeable base is compatible with various brush heads from Oral B, including ones for sensitive teeth and others that focus on whitening or flossing.  You can also purchase compatible brush heads (View Price on Amazon) designed to be 100% recyclable, so long as you ship them back to the manufacturer. 

However, this brush loses points for environmental sustainability. Its low price point means it’s made of relatively cheap plastic materials and isn’t likely to last as long as more expensive models. But as stated above, one point in its favor is that the toothbrush base is compatible with recyclable brush heads, so you can cut down on your trash production.  

Best electric toothbrush FAQ

What is the best electric toothbrush for travel?

Hands down, the FOREO ISSA3, with its best in class energy efficiency, is the best electric toothbrush for travel. You could go on a month long business trip with the FOREO ISSA3 and never have to charge the toothbrush once.

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  1. Do any of the brushes have replaceable batteries? I need to replace my brush only because the battery won’t hold a charge any more. The rest of the brush is still fully functional and it seems such an environmental waste to throw it out.

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