Recycle Your Toothbrush

As small as they may be, the amount of waste created by discarded toothbrushes may surprise you. Approximately 50 million pounds of used toothbrushes are added to American landfills every year. If the majority of Americans actually followed their dentists’ advice and replaced their toothbrushes every few months, that figure would be even larger.

You may have not heard, but there are some more environmentally friendly alternatives to throwing away toothbrushes so frequently, and many are available at natural food retailers or directly from the manufacturer’s websites.

A Recycline Preserve is a toothbrush designed by dentists, with a handle made from polypropylene plastic, recycled from old Stonyfield Yogurt cups. When a Preserve toothbrush gets warn out and needs to be replaced, consumers can either include it with their normal plastic recyclables to be picked up (if that service is available in your community) or send it right back to Recycline in the postage-paid envelope that accompanies every new Recycline toothbrush. If you choose the latter, your old toothbrush will likely converted into a raw material that will be used for a deck, picnic table, boardwalk or some other similar product.

Another green option is a line of toothbrushes from Eco-Dent called Terradent. These highly sophisticated toothbrushes feature replaceable heads, so when the bristles become worn out, their owners can keep the original handle and simply replace the head, which does a very effective job of limiting waste.

Similarly, a company called Radius produces very stylish (and of course recyclable!) toothbrushes that are comprised of no plastic whatsoever, but instead are made from naturally occurring cellulose taken from yield forests. In addition to its standard line of toothbrushes, Radius also sells an electric toothbrush known as the “Intelligent Toothbrush”. This innovative toothbrush also features replaceable heads, and the company welcomes back the handle for recycling once the battery has worn out (which is usually after about 18 months).

For those consumers who are too attached to their traditional toothbrush brand to make the switch, the retail site Toothbrush Express offers a recycling program similar to that of Recycline. Customers can sign up and then receive brand new toothbrushes from Toothbrush Express at set intervals semi-annually or even monthly. For just a few dollars more, the company will provide you with a postage-paid mailer, included inside every shipment so that consumers may return their old toothbrushes to be recycled.

To take it one step further, even you can’t be bothered to send in your old toothbrushes for recycling, Carol Duvall of HGTV suggests that you find creative uses for them, such as making children’s bracelets out of them. If you boil your old toothbrush for just about a minute, the handle of your toothbrush (be sure to remove the bristles) can be re-shaped around a cylindrical object such as a jar, and then when left to cool it will take a new form as a bracelet! Check out HGTV’s website for more detailed information on this process.