Rubbish Removal News: The Eco Impact Of Our Toothbrushes

Rubbish Removal News: The Eco Impact Of Our Toothbrushes

The next time you’re scrubbing away on your pearly whites, ponder this mind boggling statistic. More than three billion toothbrushes are thrown in the rubbish removal bin every year worldwide and most of these end up in a landfill somewhere. It’s easy to understand why this is so. Dentists recommend you replace your toothbrush every three months and no one wants to share a toothbrush, not even with their significant. While frequently replacing your toothbrush may be good for your teeth, it’s terrible for the environment, unless you find a way to recycle it, or better yet, use a sustainable toothbrush and compost it!

What Are Most Modern Toothbrushes Made From

The plastic handle of a toothbrush is usually made from polypropylene plastic (polypropene). This is type 5 plastic for recycling purposes. It’s the same kind of plastic used to make medicine bottles, yoghurt containers, and ketchup bottles. So, it’s relatively safe to put in your mouth but not good for the environment, especially if it goes to a landfill at the end of the lifecycle. If you burn polypropylene plastic, it produces carbon dioxide. If you just let it sit there, it will take hundreds of years to biodegrade and it will produce harmful methane gas as it does.

The bristles of the toothbrush are usually made from nylon, a type of very strong synthetic plastic. It takes nylon thirty to forty years to break down in a landfill. As it does, it can produce carbon monoxide, ammonia, hydrogen cyanide, and other environmental poisons. To add insult to injury, nylon replaced silk, a natural material that easily biodegrades!

The History Of the Toothbrush

People did not always use harmful plastics to make tooth brushes, nor did they have rubbish removal bins and recycle bins. Between 3500 and 3000 years B.C.E., the Babylonians and the ancient Egyptians used chew sticks made of natural fibers to scrape the tartar off their teeth. They would fray the end of the stick and use this as a crude brushing stick. A fully bristled toothbrush, a precursor to our modern toothbrush, was first used in China. The bristles were composed of thick hair from the hog and the toothbrush handle was made from bamboo, or in some cases, cow bone. Before you knock hog hair as toothbrush bristles, you have to try it first. Hog hairs actually work very well as a toothbrush and as a hair brush. Before the days of synthetic toothbrush bristles, if you had money, you might have used a toothbrush with badger hair as bristles!

While we may think of these ancient toothbrushes as “crude” objects compared to the modern day toothbrush, they have one major advantage over ours. All the materials used to make these ancient toothbrushes were natural and biodegradable! Furthermore, people didn’t use rubbish removal bins back then. They composted everything or burned it. Everything in those ancient toothbrushes would have composted nicely! Further, if you burned one of these natural toothbrushes, no toxins would have been released, unlike our modern toothbrushes. It wasn’t until the late 1930s when Dupont started making toothbrush bristles out of synthetic fibers and thus began our rubbish removal problem with our non-composting toothbrushes.

Consider Using a More Sustainable Toothbrush

Sustainable toothbrushes are ecofriendly alternatives to plastic toothbrushes. Most are made from the highly sustainable bamboo plant. Bamboo fibers are made from cellulose, a complicated sugar with high structural integrity. Cellulose is a common structural element found in many plants. It can be made into a sturdy toothbrush handle and into bristly fibers used to scrub the teeth and massage the gums.

Sustainable toothbrushes are sometimes made from other materials as well. A company called Preserve, based in Massachusetts, U.S., is making their toothbrush handles from yoghurt pots rescued from the rubbish removal bin and old discarded toothbrushes. Life without Plastic, a German company, is making their toothbrush handles from sustainably harvested beech wood and their toothbrush bristles from hog hair.

What You Can Do To Keep Old Toothbrushes Out of Landfills

If you use a sustainable toothbrush made from natural materials like hog hair and bamboo, you can simply compost your toothbrush in your garden! Hair from any mammal is high in nitrogen and composts well and bamboo will compost as easily as any other dried plant material.

If you’re in the UK, you can also call Clearabee, a very reliable same day on demand rubbish removal company, and put your old toothbrushes in the stuff you have them collect. Clearabee has a ninety percent recycle rate so odds are very good your old toothbrushes will be recycled if Clearabee picks them up. To make sure, let Clearabee know in advance that you have toothbrushes in your pickup so they can get them to the right place for recycling.

Another good way to recycle an old toothbrush is send them to Terracycle, which has partnered with Colgate to

turn old toothbrushes into various consumer products such as backpacks, shower curtains, and shoes.


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