Are there any toothbrushes that are recyclable or biodegradable? Small as they are, tossed toothbrushes create a lot of waste. Torontonians add a hundred tonnes of the dental devices to landfills every year. If we followed our dentists' recommendations and replaced our toothbrushes every three months, over 125 million of them would be discarded in Canada annually. A modest answer to this problem is the Recycline toothbrush ($5-$7), which is available at Sahara Cosmetics and will soon grace the shelves at the Big Carrot. These are made from 100 per cent recycled plastic (from Stonyfield Farm yogurt cups, actually) and are recyclable. You can bring your old brushes back to the Carrot, which will then return them to the company for reprocessing into source material for plastic lumber. Since it's only the bristles that wear out, some stores (Whole Foods Market, the Carrot, Grassroots, Noah's) sell brands with interchangeable heads. Whole Foods stocks a Monte Bianco brush with natural bristles and replaceable head ($3.99) and one made by Terradent where only the bristles are replaced ($5.99).
Or for a totally biodegradable option, try Eco-logic, available at the Carrot, made of Italian maple wood and sisal bristles. It only lasts two to three months, because the wood holds bacteria more readily than plastic, thus raising the question, do you go synthetic (which could potentially last a lifetime) or do you contribute to the tree-choppin' biz?
Of course, you can always extend a toothbrush's life by dipping your stick in grapefruit seed extract. Stir 5 to 10 drops of the potent antibacterial liquid into a glass of water and soak your brush for a good 15 minutes. "But my bristles get way too mashed to last any longer!" you cry. Well, take that as a sign that you're brushing much too hard and probably deserve a good scolding from your dentist. (Think receding gums.)
For all of you hooked on the snazzy electric variety, the story gets more complicated. Yes, we know, a certain segment of you have long sworn by your high-end (sometimes dentist-prescribed), rechargeable, plug-in types. But in recent years the market has been flooded with the cheapy battery operated kind. As tempting as their $5 price tags can be, you should consider spending a little more on the old plug-in models. If you insist on going for the battery-operated brush, rev its little engine with more eco-friendly rechargeables.
If you're feeling really experimental, there's yet another option. The Soladay ($19.95), available at the Big Carrot, contains a solar conducting rod that releases negatively charged electrons that, when blended with your saliva, are said to attract the positively charged ions in your plaque. No toothpaste required.
Whichever brush you choose, remember, old toothbrushes turn into handy precision-driven cleaning tools.
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