When was the last time you replaced your toothbrush? According to the American Dental Association, most Americans switch to a new brush only once or twice a year. However, it is recommended that you use a clean, new toothbrush every three to four months or once the bristles are frayed. Toothbrushes can become infested with bacteria. These germs come from the mouth and can accumulate in the bristles of a toothbrush over time. Additionally, frayed bristles can prevent you from getting the best brush for your teeth.
So what do you do with an old toothbrush once you’ve changed to a new one? Most toothbrushes have a plastic handle, but this does not mean they are necessarily recyclable. Depending on your city’s guidelines, toothbrushes may ultimately be sorted out and sent to a landfill. To make sure most of the materials in your toothbrush get reused, consider sending it to the Colgate Oral Care Recycling Program.
The Colgate Oral Care Recycling Program is a collaboration between Colgate and TerraCycle that accepts not just old toothbrushes but used toothpaste tubes and dental floss containers as well. The program takes apart the different oral hygiene items and makes sure each material is properly recycled. Here is how the program works. Simply put your toothbrushes in a box, print the free UPS label from the program’s website, attach the label and mail the package. The program also offers points for shipments of recyclables, which can be redeemed for charitable gifts and donations.
Toothbrushes can also be repurposed instead of recycled. Here are a few ideas.
- Clean the grout in your kitchen or bathroom: Dip the brush with baking soda, or soak the head in bleach and start scrubbing.
- Shine your soles: The head of a toothbrush is the perfect size to brush away dirt and pebbles that can easily wedge their way into the bottoms of your shoes
- Arts and Crafts: Instead of paint brushes, consider using an old toothbrush. The sunflower painting (right) is just one of many creations you can make.
Written by Emily Su, Class of 2022.