The minutiae of everyday life is where we should be focusing sustainability efforts. It’s the things you use every day without taking notice; yet if they weren’t there you would be lost. Take your trusty toothbrush for example. Most are made up of plastic, imagine the environmental impact if we swap plastic toothbrushes for bamboo or another sustainable option.
We stare at our toothbrushes twice if not more everyday. We use approximately 3 – 4 new toothbrushes every year; in an average lifetime that is roughly 220+ toothbrushes. Multiply that with everyone in the world and we got a huge opportunity to make a positive impact on the environment with one easy swap.
Over the next several months I will share ten sustainability tips. I challenge you to implement one at a time; allow it to become a part of your daily habits, then implement another. Over time each step you take will become easier. To the point where you don’t notice that you are conscientiously making great strides in reducing your environmental footprint. It’s these little things that add up and make a big difference. And they really are easy!
Let’s get to it!
The list is building, check out the sustainability tips we’ve shared so far:
- Paper Towel Alternative – Hand Towels
- Save Glass Jars to Hold All the Things
- Swap Plastic Toothbrushes for Bamboo
- What to Do with Old Hangers
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3. Swap Plastic Toothbrushes for Bamboo
Let this sink in:
“Research from the Ellen MacArthur Foundation suggests that only 2% of plastics are recycled into products with the same function. Another 8% are “downcycled” to something of lower quality. The rest is landfilled, leaked into the environment, or incinerated.” According to an article on Yale Climate Connections.
Now think about this:
“The American Dental Association suggests that everyone replace their toothbrushes every three or four months. At that rate, brushers in the U.S. alone would go through over one billion toothbrushes each year. And if everyone around the world followed those recommendations, about 23 billion toothbrushes would get trashed annually….
Many toothbrushes are unrecyclable because the composite plastics most are now made of are difficult, if not impossible, to break apart efficiently.” According to a very interesting article on National Geographic.
It is unknown how long plastic takes to degrade as plastic has only been around since the 1930’s. However, the projection for plastic toothbrushes range from 500 to 1000 years. And even then it never goes away, just breaks down into microplastic. I found this WWF article, The Lifecycle of Plastics, interesting and straightforward. You should give it a read.
What Can You Do?
Choose a toothbrush made with materials that can biodegrade like this bamboo one for adults and this one for kids. Pay attention to the bristles, those are usually made of nylon or plastic so pull those out of the toothbrush before composting.
You can also opt for a toothbrush that produces less waste like this one from Goodwell. It has a recycled aluminum handle that is designed to be used for life, then you change out the head of the brush every 3 – 4 months as recommended by dentists. Pretty cool – a lot less waste!
SO… How Do You Actually Put this into Practice?
You don’t have to completely overhaul and get rid of the plastic toothbrushes you may have stored away. As you use them, swap the plastic toothbrushes for bamboo. Extend the life of any toothbrush by using them to clean around the house. I put a couple in a cleaning caddie so I can use them when trying to get to the small spaces around the house.
Once all is said and done, you can recycle toothbrushes via a TerraCycle recycling program. Here are two that are taking toothbrushes: Colgate Oral Care Recycling Program and Tom’s of Maine Natural Care Recycling Program. There is a wait list of the Colgate program which I have signed up for, once that is open I can let you know how it goes. I also signed up for the Tom’s program, not sure if I can only send in Tom’s products or if we can send in anything. Once we have a package full of dental products (toothbrushes, floss containers and toothpaste tubes) we’ll let you know how the recycling process goes. Stay tuned!
Swap Plastic Toothbrushes for Bamboo – Set Yourself Up for Success
Keep in mind moving to a sustainable household takes time and it’s about progress not perfection. We still have plastic toothbrushes in the house but they get replaced with bamboo when the time comes. It is such an easy eco friendly swap that takes no additional effort. Every move towards sustainability is a win. Don’t get discouraged if your efforts aren’t zero waste, it is way better than where you started!
More At Home Sustainable Practices
While you are waiting for the rest of the posts that make up 10 Easy Sustainable Things You Can Do Now please check out other sustainability practices we have implemented. See if any are a fit for you!
Our Experience with Reusable Diapers
Our Elimination Communication Journey
Reusable Produce Bags + Beeswax Food Wrap
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