Dentists recommend replacing a toothbrush every three to four months or after an illness. Consuming three to four brushes a year is a great idea if we’ll talk about oral health. But for the environment, this is bad news.
Standard toothbrushes are made from plastic handles and soft nylon bristles. These materials are almost indestructible. On average, it takes 100 years or more for plastic to decompose. This even takes longer depending on the plastic’s thickness.
Most toothbrushes end up in landfills when thrown away. With its number and decaying rate, throwing these leave complicated environmental footprints. Even when it decomposes, it just turns into microplastics. These microplastics stay in the soil for many more years.
The problem does not end there. Toothbrushes end up in the ocean as well. This happens when floods wash them off. When toothbrushes reach the ocean, they can harm marine lives and destroy marine habitats.
With these being said, here are some genius hacks to reuse or recycle old toothbrushes and lessen the toxins in the environment.
- Donate to recycling companies.
One of the best ways to recycle toothbrushes is to donate them to a recycling company like TerraCycle. Their collection program accepts any brand of unwanted toothbrushes.
Use for general household cleaning.
- Use it to clean appliances.
When the toothbrush is no longer used for cleaning the teeth, you can still use it for household cleaning instead. You can use it to brush off crumbs and stains in that stovetop, toaster, coffee machines, microwaves, and any appliances you like.
- Use it to clean foods.
Use a toothbrush to make your fruits and vegetables extra clean. It is perfect for root crops like gingers, potatoes, carrots, and many more.
- Use it to clean your computer.
An old toothbrush can clean a computer and laptop as well. The toothbrush bristles can easily clean the dust in keyboards and motherboard’s tiny circuits.
- Use it to clean the kitchen and bathroom.
Toothbrushes are also great for scrubbing faucets, sinks, and the space between tiles. It can remove dirt even in hard-to-reach areas.
- Use it to remove clothing stains.
Some stains are stubborn and will not go away by just washing. So here’s a trick. Apply a stain remover on the exact spot and scrub with your old toothbrush. Do this until the stain is gone.
- Use it to remove dust from stuffed toys and dolls.
Displayed stuffed toys and dolls can be a home for dust. It is also not a great idea to wash them again and again. In this case, a dry toothbrush is a great tool to get rid of those dust.
- Use it to remove dirt from your shoes.
You can safely remove dirt from shoes by gently brushing them using an old toothbrush. This will make your shoes clean and won’t ruin the design at the same time.
Use for personal grooming.
- Use it to clean your fingernails.
Removing dirt on your fingernails is easy. All you need are soap, water, and that old toothbrush. Just put a little soap, brush every fingernail, rinse with water and you’re all set.
- Use it to exfoliate your lips.
It is easy to get rid of dead skins and bring back your lips’ natural color. Just apply lip balm and gently scrub your lips using your old toothbrush.
- Use it to apply hair dye.
It’s not always that we have hair coloring brushes at home. In this case, a toothbrush is a great substitute. It can serve the same purpose because of its fine bristles.
- Use it to soften cuticles.
Do this by massaging petroleum jelly into your nails using that old toothbrush. Let the petroleum jelly set for ten minutes and rinse.
- Use it to revitalize your velcro.
The tiny hooks make the velcro stick. But it’s also the reason why hairs, threads, and lint are attracted to it. Brushing the velcro’s tiny hooks with an old toothbrush quickly removes any debris and will make it good as new.
- Use it to brush your pets.
Toothbrushes are perfect for cleaning a tiny pet’s hair. Just make sure not to brush too hard, it might hurt your pet.
- Use it in art projects and paintings.
Now that DIY art projects are trendy, toothbrushes can be of help as well. You can use it to put that stars on a starry night painting or use it to add textures to your pottery works. Toothbrushes can also be used in other DIY things like wall decors. All you need are Youtube tutorials and the willingness to do it.
It is not easy to reduce plastic waste and there are only limited ways to recycle a toothbrush. Because of this, you can also use other eco-friendly alternatives. Here are some of it.
- Use toothbrushes made of biodegradable materials.
Because of all the harmful effects of plastic toothbrushes, some companies found a way to create an alternative. Some of them are N-amboo and Dr. Perfect. Both companies make toothbrushes with bamboo handles and BPA-free bristles. These companies’ regular bamboo toothbrushes and electric bamboo toothbrushes are made from natural bamboos. Bamboos are not only good for the environment but our health as well.
- Use toothbrushes with changeable heads.
Some people change their toothbrushes more often than every three to four months. By using brushes with changeable heads, we can reduce waste. Instead of throwing the entire toothbrush, you can simply replace the head and continue using the handle for the months to come. Isshah also has replacement toothbrush heads made of bamboo. These toothbrush heads are compatible with Phillips Sonicare’s electric toothbrush.
- Precycle your oral care products.
Recycling options exist for many types of oral care products and their packaging. But to make your disposal easier, you can buy easy-to-recycle products ahead of time. This practice is also known as precycling.
Toothbrushes are an important part of our daily lives. As we use them to take care of ourselves, we should also be aware of their environmental impacts. By following the information in this article, we can take care of the environment while keeping our mouths clean and healthy.