The Heartbreaking Story of a Discarded Toothbrush
The human invention which we all use first thing in the morning- toothbrush, only came into being around 500 years ago. It is thought that the Chinese made the very first ones in the late 1500s, using bone or bamboo for the handles and bristles from a boar’s back.
The last major change in the history of materials used to manufacture toothbrushes was around 1930s when the industry started using nylon bristles and plastic handles. Interestingly, the same design, material composition and technology continues till today.
The handles are molded from plastic pellets, then a machine positions and attaches the bristles. When they are all in place, the bristles are trimmed into shape, and the toothbrushes are then ready to be placed in their packets and shipped.
The next step in the lifecycle of your toothbrush is for it to be transported to a store and which then comes to our houses. Once inside our homes, the average person should be swapping out for a new toothbrush every three to four months. Your toothbrush begins to wear down and become less effective by that time.
Now that you are done using your toothbrush and have tossed it in the trash, you would think that its lifecycle is complete. Wrong.
Your plastic toothbrush has just begun its life, and it won’t be nearing its end for close to 1000 years.
Once you throw away your toothbrush, it will likely to be brought to a landfill where it will sit, unchanged. Once in landfill, traditional plastic toothbrushes (polypropylene plastic and nylon) will take about 1000 years to disintegrate, meaning none of us will be around to see the day our toothbrushes meet their end. They will still never fully biodegrade. They’ll just degrade into smaller micro plastics which are dangerous to us and our wildlife.
Millions of tons of microplastics are blowing into rivers and oceans every year. And when entering the ocean, they can even be mistaken for animals, adding to the consequences of using plastic.
Manufacturer companies partner with certain businesses to recycle and convert them into plastic lumber and other consumer products. But plastic toothbrushes are rarely recyclable, and if you recycle it with the rest of your plastics it will ultimately be sorted out and sent to a landfill.
99% of all the toothbrushes in the world are made from plastic. And about 1 billion plastic toothbrushes are used and trashed each year in the US alone.
If you’re struggling to understand the consequences of this, let’s put it into perspective with some really shocking statistics:
- National Geographic did a study which revealed that 90% of table salts in Europe contained microplastics.
- WWF recently did a study that showed: people around the world are consuming a credit card's-worth of microplastic every week.
- An estimated 8 million tons of plastic enters our oceans every year.
- Plastic entering our oceans every year is equivalent of setting five garbage bags full of trash on every foot of coastline around the world.
- 70% of the oxygen we and other land animals is directly from the sea.
We all know that the majority of this microplastic does not come from our toothbrushes. But with over 1 billion brushes being thrown out each year- it is concerning enough for us to politely nudge our friends and family to make a switch to eco-friendly toothbrush. It is the time to switch to biodegradable toothbrush options.
A switch today is a must. Start today with the change and buy the natural bamboo toothbrush from Bigbluemarble. We designed our bamboo toothbrush to have fully compostable handle and bristles. Made from sustainably grown bamboo, they are 100% environment-friendly with natural anti-bacterial, antifungal, and antimicrobial properties.
Natural bamboo toothbrushes are a great alternative to regular toothbrushes. There are several benefits of using bamboo toothbrush. They drastically reduce the amount of plastic used in the product, and are biodegradable, meaning they leave minimal waste behind once you have finished using them.
How long will it take for my bamboo toothbrush handle to biodegrade?
Bamboo is a rot-resistant material which is what makes it a good choice for making toothbrushes out of. As with any biodegradable material, how quickly it bio-degrades will be largely dependent on the conditions it’s left to decompose in.
Home composting can take up to 6 months – breaking the handle into smaller pieces may speed this up.
Commercial/ industrial composting could decompose your bamboo toothbrush handle in a matter of weeks.
But we can assure you that it will get back to earth entirely.
Isn’t this how it should be? A small step today can steer a big change in the environment. If each of us replaces the traditional plastic toothbrush with a plastic free natural bamboo toothbrush, the environment will become a much cleaner and greener place to live in.
Our aim is to encourage more people to join us in making a change, forming a community of like-minded individuals, and igniting a movement.
Let's charge through this decade with the aim of embracing healthy changes to provide a better planet for our future generation.