It is estimated that in the US alone 1 billion plastic toothbrushes are thrown away every year, creating about 50 million pounds of waste annually. How can we reduce this number !? Toothbrushes are necessary to our health and we are told to replace them every 3 months for proper hygiene. Here are some tips on how to continue cleaning your teeth while living by the 5Rs.
Unfortunately REFUSE and REDUCE aren't really good options when it comes to toothbrushes. We cannot refuse to brush our teeth and we cannot keep the same toothbrush for more than 3 or 4 months. What we can do is choose to buy compostable bamboo toothbrushes instead of plastic ones.
Most people ask "what are the bristles made out of ?" Depending on which brand you choose to shop from, you'll find bristles made out of
- pig hair (supposedly a by-product of the Chinese meat industry that would normally
have been thrown away)
- Nylon 4, a type of plastic biodegradable under certain conditions (as this study suggest)
- bamboo... and probably a little bit of plastic :(
While none of these options are 100% perfect, a bamboo toothbrush still remains a better alternative than a fully-plastic one.
Once you are done with your toothbrush, you can definitely REUSE it to clean the sink faucet or the outside of your shoes, the corners of furnitures etc...
Finally, you can apply the fifth 'R' rule: "Rot" by composting your toothbrush (take out the bristles if they are not fully compostable by using a pair of pliers)!