If you care about your teeth, then you probably have a trusted brand that you rely on to replace your toothbrush when it’s dead and old. Colgate, Crest, and Oral-B have some of the most reliable and replaceable toothbrushes out there in every corner store and supermarket available. Their sleek, colorful and have the right bristles to keep your teeth healthy and clean. But what about the environment? Most often, these companies tend to struggle to maintain a sustainable source for their products, often relying on plastic to keep production lines going and meet up with ADA standards for oral care. However, the amount of waste produced by our toothbrushes is at an astounding rate.
Plastic and Its Effects On the Environment
In the United States, over 1 billion toothbrushes are wasted, thrown into landfills, and ending up in our ocean waters. This accounts for at least 50 million pounds of plastic washing up along our shores. Studies from the Environmental Protection Agency show that plastic is a rapidly growing problem that has persisted over the last 40 years, with a total of 35.7 million tons of plastic generated, and about 27 million tons of that plastic is wasted, with only 5.6 million combusted to recover energy costs. With this in mind, there is a severely insufficient ratio of plastic produced to plastic recycled in the world, as plastic toothbrushes account for a significant portion of the total waste produced yearly.
However, many companies have attempted to produce viable and more sustainable options for waste reduction. Out of the various options, bamboo toothbrushes have become a popular alternative for disposing of toothbrushes while lessening your impact on the environment. Bamboo handles, paper packaging, and plant-based nylon bristles make up the core foundation of this idea. But for many critics, the term “bioplastics” has been a term heavily manipulated to communicate eco-friendliness without truly explaining what happens to the environment.
According to Colombia University, the term bioplastics is defined as:
- Biobased means it is partially made from biomasses such as corn or cellulose and can break down into organic components.
- Biobased materials don’t always mean that they’re biodegradable, and not all biodegradable materials are guaranteed to degrade.
- Bioplastics that end up in landfills may do just as much harm as plastics and often require proper disposal to be fully utilized.
- Only 9 percent of global plastics have been recycled, meaning that plastic production accounts for the larger contribution to this ever-growing issue.
Choosing The Right Toothbrush To Recycle
Bioplastics may sound like a promising solution, but putting blind faith in this item won’t help transform our world into a sustainable place. As for your toothbrush, the best advice that can be offered to help resolve these issues is to look for toothbrushes that are labeled biodegradable by a trusted company, and when you’re done using that toothbrush, make sure that you take your toothbrush to a recycling facility to be processed.