So, you have made the decision to help the planet and your body by opting for the bamboo toothbrush. You have already read about why dental practises are choosing the bamboo toothbrush, along with the 11 reasons to choose bamboo products in general. However, what is the next step? You have this environmentally friendly toothbrush sitting in your bathroom, have used it for the recommended amount of time and now what?
How to dispose of your bamboo toothbrush?
There are two steps to responsibly disposing of your bamboo toothbrush.
- You will need to separate the non-biodegradable bristles from the biodegradable handle. To do this, simply grab a pair of plyers or similar, and pull out the bristles from your toothbrush. Make sure to do this in a controlled environment and place the bristles into a small bag, or into your zero-waste jar, so they don’t fly everywhere.
- Once the two pieces are separate, you can throw out the bristles with your normal trash or simply keep them until there is a better system to dispose of small nylon particles. Try and keep the nylon bristles together so the chances of the small nylon bristles falling out and ending up in the ground or water systems. Now all you have left is the biodegradable bamboo handle.
How to dispose of the nylon bristles from the bamboo toothbrush?
Unfortunately, most bamboo toothbrush bristles are made out of nylon 4 which is a non-biodegradable material. Once the nylon bristles are pulled out of the handle, they will typically end up in the landfill as they are far too small to be recycled in curbside pickup. You can consider contacting your local council about recycling standards and see what options are available in the place you live.
How to dispose of the bamboo toothbrush handle?
The bamboo toothbrush handle is made from 100% bamboo, which means it can biodegrade easily in a commercial composting bin. If you were to throw it into your own home composter, that is also an option however the rate of decomposition will largely vary on the conditions in your compost. The standard approximation is that the bamboo handle will return to the soil within 6 months.
What else can you do with a bamboo toothbrush?
The key part of trying to minimise the environmental impact of your choices is to think further beyond the use and throw away culture. The bamboo toothbrush is an excellent tool that can be used for a long time after it stops being a hygiene product. Here are a couple of ideas of what you can do with your bamboo toothbrush after removing it from your dental routine.
- Use it to clean your aquarium
- Use it to clean your fingernails
- Use it to clean grates and hard to reach places in your home or garden
- Donate it to coral conservation agencies which use it to clean underwater coral nurseries. Check out organisations in your local area if they need such materials.
- Scrub your hairbrush
- Use it to shiny your jewellery
- Scrape of dried mud and other dirt from your shoes
- Wash the insides of your coffee grinder
- Clean your keyboard
- Spot cleaning on your clothes
- Deep clean the toilet, faucets, or garbage disposal
- Dust your blinds
- Detail your cars head and taillights with soapy water
- Use it to apply glue or similar
These are just a few of the ideas of how you can repurpose your bamboo toothbrush. If you have any other ideas, please let us know in the comments!
What can you do with the bamboo toothbrush handle?
If you rather separate the nylon bristles from the bamboo toothbrush handle, you can use the handle for a variety of applications around your house. One of the most popular options is to use it as a marking stick in your garden for various plants. This is because it is a natural material that would not leach any chemicals into your soil, along with looking more natural in the green setting.
If you are a creative individual, then you can surely think of many other ways to use this little stick of bamboo. In which case, please leave us a comment and let us know!
When to replace my bamboo toothbrush?
According to dental practitioners, you should replace your toothbrush every two to three months. With proper care, your bamboo toothbrush can easily last up to three months. This is if you rinse it after every use, make sure it dries between uses, and replace it when the bristles have frayed out of shape. Bamboo has antibacterial properties which help keep your toothbrush bacteria free and your mouth healthy.
Can bamboo toothbrush be recycled?
No. The handle is made out of bamboo, which is not recyclable but can be composted instead. The nylon bristles are far too small to be captured in curb side recycling programs and would get lost in the process. The nylon bristles are destinated for the landfill.
Can I compost my bamboo toothbrush?
Yes, the bamboo toothbrush handle can be composted in both a commercial composter and in your own compost at home. However, the bristles are non-biodegradable and have to be removed with plyers.
Are there any biodegradable bamboo toothbrush bristles?
Yes and no. The two most popular synthetic materials for bamboo toothbrush bristles is Nylon 4 or Nylon 6. There is however a third and fully compostable option for the bamboo toothbrushes, which are animal based.
- Nylon 6 fibres are tough with high tensile strength along with elasticity and lustre. Since they are wrinkle proof and resistant to abrasion by acids and alkalis, Nylon 6 has been the chosen material for toothbrushes since the creation of the modern toothbrush. Certain white rot fungal strains can degrade nylon 6 through oxidation, however overall nylon 6 has poor biodegradability.
- Nylon 4 has been assessed to have a biodegradability of 80% within 25 days on the surface of sea water. This was connected to microbial degradation as the main source of degradation of this material. It is considered a bioplastic with many bamboo toothbrushes companies option for it as the optimal material to use for toothbrush bristles. Another study showed that Nylon 4 would biodegrade in soil within four months.
- The fully compostable option are bristles created from pig hair. Often, the pig hair is a by-product of the Chinese meat industry. This means it would typically be thrown away, so using it in a toothbrush minimises waste. If you are a meat eater, then this might be the best option for you if your main aim is to create zero waste. Other people choose not to have animal products in their mouth due to ethical reasons. One of these reasons is that the pig farms in China could have questionable living conditions for their animals.
For this reason, it is a good idea to check with the bamboo toothbrush company you are purchasing from about which of these options they are using. Nylon 6 is still the most common option in toothbrushes. If there is no emphasis on biodegradability of the bristles, you can safely assume it is nylon 6.
Is the bamboo toothbrush environmentally friendly option?
Even if the bristles cannot be recycled, the fact that the handle is made from bamboo the bamboo toothbrush is a much better alternative to the plastic toothbrushes which dominate the market. The bamboo toothbrush can help keep up to 30 million toothbrushes out of the landfill every year.
Bamboo itself is a fantastic material which has many environmental, social, and economic benefits in areas of the world where it is grown. The market in eco friendly toothbrushes has exploded in the past couple of years, and if people like you continue to purchase bamboo toothbrushes to help the planet, it makes sense that sooner than later biodegradable bristles will be created and will become the norm.