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Published on April 23rd, 2008 | by Stephanie Evans

Brush Up with an Eco Toothbrush

It might be difficult to imagine the effect that one tiny toothbrush can have on the environment.  If you consider that about 50 million toothbrush pounds make their way into U.S. landfills every year, the collective result is quite a hefty waste load.

Here are some tips for making a planet-friendly pick once your current brush outlives its usefulness:

Recycled Content Toothbrushes

Brushes

Toothbrushes that feature sturdy, sustainable handles and replaceable heads are a great way to save money and reduce toothbrush load to the landfill.  Most are equipped with large handles and high bristle counts.

Here are some brushes to sink your teeth into…

  • The Preserve Toothbrush, created by the Recycline Company, is constructed with materials recycled from reprocessed Stonyfield Farm yogurt cups, and the toothbrush, in turn, is completely recyclable.You can send your toothbrush back to Recycline in a postage-paid return envelope that is available wherever you purchase a brush.  The company will use it to make a long-lasting plastic “lumber” for picnic tables, decks, and boardwalks.  You can also download Recycline’s postage-paid label or put your used Preserve in the recycle bin if your community recycles #5 plastics. Find the Preserve toothbrush at natural food supermarkets such as Whole Foods, Wild Oats, and Trader Joe’s.
  • RADIUS offers ergonomic toothbrushes with handles made of cellulose from sustainably-managed forests that is proceed into 100% renewable resource plastic.  The Source Toothbrush features a replaceable head and a sturdy handle made from wood fiber blended with PLA (corn-based plastic).  Also found at natural health food stores.
  • Eco-DenT carries TerrAdenT Replaceable Head Toothbrushes and the colorful kid-friendly Funbrush.  Eco-DenT uses thermo-welding to bond bristles to the head, citing claims that this prevents germs from hiding at the base of the bristles.

Don’t toss old toothbrushes!  Use them to scrub out hard to reach niches and keep them in a designated spot with other cleaning supplies so no one confuses them with current brushes.

Bristles

Most toothbrushes contain nylon bristles (not very natural!).  You can find natural bristle brushes, famed for their softness.  Here are a few things to note:

  • Natural bristle softness comes in handy if you have sensitive gums or a special interest in protecting tooth enamel.
  • Boar and badger hairs are two common natural bristle constituents, owing to their durability, softness, and capability for water retention.  Make sure to clean these brushes more often than those with nylon since they hold more water, and thus, more bacteria.
  • Bristle shedding is a common complaint with some of these products so be sure to read reviews before purchasing.  Companies claim that bristles are harvested humanely from ethically treated animals raised solely for bristle production, analogous to raising and shearing sheep.

Find natural bristle brushes at:

Holders

If you’re using a grimy, plastic toothbrush holder that’s long past due for retirement, find another use for it and swap it out for an easy-to-clean glass jar or cup you have around the house.

Since it’s best to keep some distance between brushes for hygienic reasons, consider keeping each one in a different drawer or in its own separate travel sleeve.

For something slightly more decorative, look for containers made of recycled glass, ceramic, and bacteria-discouraging bamboo, keeping in mind how many miles the product will travel to make it to you.




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