How to throw away your bamboo toothbrush?
So you’ve made the swap to bamboo toothbrushes and you’re no longer sending plastic brushes to landfill - the world is already a better place.
But what happens next?
You’ve been using your current brush for a couple of months now, the bristles are beginning to fray, and although your BlueRock toothbrush is naturally anti-bacterial, it’s probably losing it’s hygienic edge.
Time for a new toothbrush!
But we want to dispose of our old bamboo toothbrush first. In this article we go through how to throw away your bamboo toothbrush in the most planet-friendly way possible, step by step.
Step 1. Reuse and upcycle your bamboo toothbrush
Nail Brush - Your bamboo toothbrush can be used as a nail brush. If you do a lot of gardening, this would be a useful brush if you want to have a separate one.
Cleaning Brush - If you don’t need another nail brush, bamboo toothbrushes work just as well as traditional plastic brushes when it comes to scrubbing down tiles, equipment, shoes & boots or any hard to reach place.
Arts & Crafts - Standing in for the lolly stick, your bamboo toothbrush can be used in a variety of craft projects. This is especially useful for kids projects. They can have fun, get creative and learn about the importance of reusing materials, all in one.
Chew sticks - If you have pets that love destroying things, such as birds, then these make excellent chew sticks. Give them the brush and after a few days, they’ll have done the work for you, tiny pieces ready for the compost heap.
Plant markers - Bamboo toothbrushes look utterly brilliant in plant pots for the house or out in the garden.
For some of these uses, you’ll need to remove the bristles first. That’s the next step!
Step 2. Remove the bristles from your bamboo toothbrush
We make our bamboo toothbrushes from the industry standard Nylon-6. Although this material is not home-compostable, they are fully recyclable. Currently, there is no fully compostable toothbrush bristle material available on the market.
Except for boar bristles, but there’s a tremendous amount of environmental and ethical concerns around that. Also, our founder is a vegan, so that’s a definite no-go!
We source our bristles from the company DuPont who are renowned for their high-purity materials. This means the nylon bristles have a chance to be recycled into another high quality plastic product.
There are two approaches to removing the bristles from the handle. Either, snap the head off or pull the bristles out with some pliers. This last method takes a bit more effort, but it’s the most eco-friendly option, so this is what we recommend.
Firstly, get your trusty pliers and grip the bristles. We suggest going for smaller bunches at a time, otherwise they’ll be quite tricky to pull out.
Pull the bristles out, bunch by bunch.
You’ll begin to form a small pile of bristles and tiny aluminium staples used to hold the bristles in place. Once you’ve taken it all apart, it’s time to separate the different material out and move onto the next step.
Step 3. Recycle and compost your bamboo toothbrush
Staples - Recycle
The staples used to hold the bristles in place are tiny squares of aluminium and are recyclable with most recycling collection services. Recycling systems are always getting better at filtering through collections, including their ability to find tiny bits of metal. However, we don’t want to leave anything to chance, so we suggest wrapping the tiny bits of aluminium in some old foil to keep them from getting separated.
Bristles - Recycle
The bristles are made from nylon which we can usually recycle with our road-side collection services. The bristles are very small, but luckily they bunch up well together. Find a plastic container suitable for recycling and trap the bristles inside.
Depending on how far down your zero-waste pathway you are, you may not have a plastic container to hand. However, you could take some from your neighbour’s recycling (might want to ask first) or pick something up on your next litter cleanup.
Bamboo handle - Compost
Your bamboo toothbrush handle is entirely biodegradable and suitable for home-composting. To aid the decomposing process, try to break down the bamboo into small pieces, either with a saw or a hammer, making sure to be careful with the tools.
The perfect conditions for your bamboo toothbrush handle to biodegrade is fully emerged in warm and wet soil. How long it will take to break down will depend on your specific compost bin and soil composition. But for most home-compost bins, this should take between 4-6 months. If you happen to have access to an industrial composter, your bamboo toothbrush could break down within a few weeks.