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Sunday, May 19th, 2013
What Do You Do With An Old Toothbrush?
When something I use in my daily life wears out and needs replacing, I think “How do I dispose of this? I can’t throw this in the landfill! What else can I do with it?” A used toothbrush is an example. Dentists recommend replacing our toothbrushes every 3 – 4 months. Multiplied by the number of people in the world, that’s a lot of plastic toothbrushes thrown into the landfill. According to recycling experts, 450 million of them end up in the landfill annually! How do we avoid that?
First of all you can reuse an old toothbrush and give it a new purpose. They make a perfect little cleaning brush once you have cleaned it thoroughly. It’s a good idea to label it “cleaning brush” so it won’t be mistaken for a usable toothbrush. They are useful for cleaning those hard to get at cracks and crevices, for shining up jewelry, or for cleaning the grooves in bike or chainsaw chains. Old toothbrushes are ideal for cleaning bathroom grout or around the drain in showers and sinks. You can even use them to remove tough stains from clothing. Simply put a stain remover on the stain and use the toothbrush to scrub. Toothbrushes are good for cleaning electronics like your keyboard and computer monitor, or dust from the air conditioner or from the wire-mesh of a hair dryer. They are excellent for cleaning silver; they can get into those crevices. Old toothbrushes are good for cleaning under your nails or for cleaning the mud or dog poop off the bottom of your shoes. How about brushing your dog or cat’s teeth with your old toothbrush? Art projects? The ideas are endless!
Eventually toothbrushes have to be thrown away. I buy the brand Preserve, which makes toothbrushes with 100% recycled handles and actually come in a postage-paid mailer to conveniently mail back your old one for recycling. Another company called World Centric has created a line of compostable toothbrushes and travel cases that are made from a plant-based resin called Ingeo designed to fully compost within three to six months when sent to a commercial composting facility. They also provide a prepaid envelope to return the old toothbrush in. Both products are available at natural food stores and most Whole Foods; Trader Joe’s sells Preserve. Both can be found on line.
It’s thrilling to see the progress people and companies are making in reducing trash.
For more green tips, visit greenwithbetsy.com.
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