OK, it's not that toothbrushes are evil, exactly, but amid our increasing scrutiny into recycling and saving the Earth, comes this fact: Every year in the United States some 450 million plastic toothbrushes make their way to landfills nationally, according to E/The Environmental magazine (which notes that if we followed dentists' recommendations and replaced our toothbrushes every three months, the problem would be even worse.)
For all the care we place upon tearing the plastic windows from the tissue box, or separating the shiny paper from the newsprint, it's a good bet that most toothbrushes get pitched into the trash without a second thought.
Enter a company called World Centric, which is introducing what it calls the first compostable toothbrush. The brush is made of a resin call Ingeo, which is a synthetic fiber made from corn. The brush and its travel case are certified compostable by Biodegradable Products Institute, which also notes its smaller carbon footprint because a plant-based resin takes less energy to produce than petroleum-based plastic resins.
There already are recyclable toothbrushes, made by companies such as Recycline, Eco-Dent, and Radius. In addition, a company called Toothbrushes Express will send you new toothbrushes with a mailer enabling you to return your used brushes.
World Centric, however, claims its toothbrush is designed to fully compost within 3 to 6 six months when sent to a commercial composting facility -- not just any old landfill where components won't necessarily degrade. For people without access to a commercial composting facility in their area, World Centric will provide a prepaid envelope that customers can use to return the toothbrush and case, which World Centric will send to a composting facility.
Alas, there still is no perfectly perfect solution for dealign with bristles. Nylon bristles are not compostable – something that the toothbrush industry is working on. So users are asked to snap off the working end of the brush before composting. The World Centric brush sells for about $4.50 at natural grocery stores, some Whole Foods stores and at www.worldcentric.org.
Or you can extend the use of your toothbrushes artistically, following directions on various sites for making funky, brightly colored bracelets. Just google "toothbrush bracelets" and go for it, remembering to then properly recycle them once your tastes change.