We eat, drink, love and talk with our mouth. Some even pull trucks and do other varied and wonderful things….and we also put in and take out stuff from it, sometimes rather carelessly too.
Have you ever thought of ALL the products you use in your mouth and how ecological and or sustainable they are? Did you just shudder? Don’t worry, below are some ways you can achieve zen-ness, and remember, EVERY step counts:
This simple tool has been around in many forms including chew sticks, toothpicks etc. for about 5000 years or more though it is believed that the toothbrush in its most known form originated in China in 1498. Press here for some fascinating toothbrush history. Handles over the ages have been made from natural materials like bamboo, bone, ivory or wood and the bristles were made from hogs’ hair etc. During the 1900s though, celluloid (a type of thermoplastic) replaced these natural handles gradually. Jump to the 21st century and we see that plastic has so fully infiltrated toothbrush design that it’s nearly impossible to clean our teeth without touching a polymer. In modern manual toothbrushes, the handle is made from polypropylene plastic, the rubber grips are made from styrene-based thermoplastic elastomers and the bristles are made from nylon, which are all sourced from non renewable fossil fuels. And because plastic is essentially indestructible, that means nearly every single toothbrush made since the 1930s is still out there in the world somewhere, living on as a piece of trash. How horrific is that? If everyone around the world replaced their toothbrush every 3-4 months, as recommended by the American Dental Associations, about 23 billion toothbrushes would get trashed annually.
So, what can we do?
Check out bamboo toothbrushes
They are cool and tend to come in unbleached cardboard packaging but bear in mind a few things:
Get your toothbrush from sustainable, local (when possible) and ethical companies.
Make sure to dispose of them properly. This shows you in detail how you can do that.
Many companies claim that their bristles are 100% biodegradable but many are made from nylon so make sure to check the material of your bristle ( If they are made of nylon, they will melt) before you dispose off the brush.
Check out recyclable heads for your electric toothbrush
If you love your electric toothbrush but also love ecology, you could investigate the 2 options below:
Apart from the non biodegradable products in the brush head itself, it is disgusting how 4/5 of the brush head is wasted. So, you could look for recyclable heads but check what they mean by “recyclable” as this doesn’t mean biodegradable and that you can throw the head in your composter or the plastic bin but rather, that you have to send it to the manufacturers for them to recycle.
I saw these Bamboo replacement heads online but not sure about them as you have to buy in gross (5000 pieces) plus they come from China and I am not sure how ethical or ecological they are. But they sure look good!
Let me know if you find a better option!
Check out less plastic in your toothbrush head
Look for companies like brushette.com where after a small initial investment in buying the tip holder, all you buy is the tip and save up not just on plastic but also on money. They send you an envelope where you collect the tips and once you have a reasonable amount, you send it back for them to recycle responsibly plus they credit your account. How cool is that.
Write to your toothbrush manufacturer asking for green and sustainable solutions
I am an eco nut but even I make some concessions. One of my few concessions is using an electric toothbrush because I always end up hurting my gums with a manual one. Worried about my own trash, I recently wrote to Oral-B Spain seeking solutions. I was disheartened as what they basically said was that they cared more for the hygiene and security of their products than the end of life of their own products. They had no solutions for the customer who ends up with tons of packaging and a non biodegradable product which adds to a landfill or mars nature- their solution was to basically put the problem on to othes. Weirdly enough, the UK site has an address where you can send your brush head for recycling. I guess the Brits care more about this topic than the Spanish, the French or the Americans ( Oral-B sites sites I checked). But you can be sure that if more of us write, they will start taking more and more care and look for sustainable alternatives to make their products from.
We thank you for taking the time to share your opinions and suggestions regarding the packaging and manufacturing of our products and we regret that you do not want to continue to use our heads.
Our first priority is to offer a hygienic and safe product to our consumers. We package each brush head individually because people normally use only one at a time. If several brush heads are packaged together, and that packaging remains open, they may be exposed to dust, bacteria or other potentially harmful substances that could affect users.
We strive to minimize the impact of packaging on the environment using mainly two components: PET plastic blisters and cardboard supports, both being recyclable materials.
Our current brushes and heads consist of multiple components and the options for processing these materials can be reported at your local recycling plant. We are working to increase the use of recycled materials and committed to launch recycling programs in as many countries as we can.
We continue working continuously to improve our products and in this sense, comments like yours are welcome. It means a lot to know how our users feel about the evolution of our products and packaging and I will be in charge of transmitting their comments to the corresponding Departments.