Smile, you’ve got plenty of ways to make taking care of your chompers easy and eco friendly!
850 million toothbrushes are thrown away every year in the US. Uh …like… that’s a lot of toothbrushes. That’s a lot of anything. Especially something made of plastic (heyo liquefied dinosaur bones) that takes a lot of energy to mine, transport, refine, mold, get coated in another round of plastic packaging, get shipped on a giant gas guzzling barge or plane, only to bet used for a few brief weeks before being tossed in the garbage. If you’re still using a plastic toothbrush, let’s talk.
Less than a fifth of all plastic is recycled globally, and in the US, it’s a measly 9%. Rough. Guys, we’ve gotta do a little better. Let’s start with things we don’t or cant recycle and think about if there’s another way to get the job done using more sustainable material. Do your contacts have to be plastic? Probably yes. Not sure bamboo contacts quite fit the bill. BUT! Bausch and Lomb is doing am amazing contact recycling program through Teracycle that you can read up on in an upcoming post. They will accept all old contact containers (not just their brand) and work to recycle them.
Does your toothbrush have to be plastic? Absolutely not.
We’ve got options. Of course I’d love to suggest a completely zero impact toothbrush that you can just chuck when you’re done, but they are few and far between. Unfortunately, when I did a little research about compostable toothbrushes, the only one that could totally go out in your garden bin and slowly get turned into worm food was made of a bamboo handle and pig hair bristles since the hair is so coarse and wirey. Hard pass. This girl is not brushing her teeth with the hairs of a farm critter.
Nylon-6 bristles, which are most common, do not break down and decompose. Nylon-4 bristles, ones that totally biodegrade, seem to be a legend yet to be fully incorporated into main stream tooth brushing, though many companies claim to utilize 4.
Radius tooth brushes are made in the USA of bioplastic and old plastics like recycled bottles, giving a second life to things that otherwise may have ended up in a garbage dump. Their bistles are made of vegetable based nylon with castor oil, so they last several times longer than a traditional toothbrush. When finished with a radius toothbrush, the company makes note that they are compostable, biodegradable, and totally recyclable.
Most floss, comes in plastic containers that we chuck after use. Did you know that floss itself is also plastic? Those strands are not recyclable and often end up in our waterways. Natural floss does exist, but for the last several decades it’s been exclusively silk from silk worms. Gag. What’s a gal to do when faced with the choice of plastic or animal byproducts? Well luckily, vegan floss has recently been developed and it’s made from corn silk and comes in a cardboard box and refillable glass container. This is the floss I use in my house, and I’ll never go back.
Finally, what kind of tooth paste are you rocking, my friends? I’m not going to get into the ingredients or testing practices associated with main stream tooth brushes, because that’s a story for another day, but let’s talk about the sustainability aspect. What are those tubes? Like they are bulletproof plastic pouches made to infuriate you while you try to squeeze every last stupid drop of toothpaste out. I’ve been so over plastic, for years, but couldn’t find a decent alternative to the big brand name toothpastes out there. I tried the DIY method, and I’ll report that my husband is seriously happy I’m past that stage in my life. I was trying to make my own shampoo, deodorant, toothpaste, etc. Let’s say I was a little unpleasant to be in close quarters with …. Now all of that is but a distant memory as I present to you these awesome tooth paste alternatives in glass bottles. Doy! Why didn’t we think of that?