Bamboo toothbrushes are a great alternative to regular toothbrushes because they drastically reduce the amount of plastic used in the product, and are biodegradable, meaning they leave minimal waste behind once you have finished using them.
It’s important to note that, how you dispose of your bamboo toothbrush will impact how quickly it biodegrades.
Unfortunately, even if something is made from biodegradable material, if it ends up in a landfill, it could take far longer to biodegrade than it should, or may not even biodegrade at all. This is because biodegradable material needs the right conditions to decompose (usually a balance of heat, moisture, bacteria and decomposers etc.).
Burying items in a landfill, away from these optimum conditions, and most likely with a lot of other non-biodegradable matter prolongs and even prevents their ability to biodegrade.If you can keep your bamboo toothbrushes out of landfill, that will give it them best opportunity to biodegrade.
The best way to dispose of your bamboo toothbrush
- remove the bristles
- remove the head (optional)
- recycle the bristles via TerraCycle
- compost the handle at home or via your local council’s garden waste bin (depending on your local authority)
How to remove the bristles from your toothbrush
The bristles of a bamboo toothbrush can either be removed by plucking out the bristles with pliers, or by removing the head section of the brush from the handle.
It’s best not to try and remove big chunks of bristles in one go, instead, pluck a couple at a time and use a gentle, rolling motion as you go.
Depending on how your bamboo toothbrush has been made, you’ll likely find that your bristles are held in with little metal staples, these should come out as you’re plucking the bristles out.
As the individual bristles are obviously very fine, you’ll need something to put them in for recycling. We recommend keeping a dedicated container, perhaps something else that you would recycle with TerraCycle, and filling it up before recycling the bristles.
Removing the head
If you are unable to remove the individual bristles from your toothbrush but still wish to compost the handle, you can remove the head from the handle by carefully snapping or sawing it off (care should be taken when doing this, to avoid injury).
If you are unable to safely remove either the head or the bristles yourself, or don’t have anyone that can do it for you, you could consider one of our repurposing options instead, to prolong the use of the brush before throwing it away (we’ve detailed these further down in the post).
What are the bristles on bamboo toothbrushes made of?
The majority of bamboo toothbrushes still have plastic bristles, usually made from Nylon. This is because there isn’t presently a suitable, sustainable or ethical alternative to plastic bristles that provides the same level of dental care.
The Nylon material used for the bristles is not recyclable via your councils local recycling scheme, which is why we recommend recycling bristles via TerraCycle’s oral care recycling programme.
How long will it take for my bamboo toothbrush handle to biodegrade?
Bamboo is a rot-resistant material which is what makes it a good choice for making toothbrushes out of. As with any biodegradable material, how quickly it biodegrades will be largely dependant on the conditions it’s left to decompose in.
- home composting can take up to 6 months – breaking the handle into smaller pieces may speed this up
- commercial/ industrial composting could decompose your bamboo toothbrush handle in a matter of weeks
Repurposing your old bamboo toothbrush
If you’d like to get a little more use from your toothbrush before disposing of it, we’ve got a fe ideas for giving it a second life.
If you’d like to sanitise your old toothbrush before reusing it, simply boil it in hot water for a few minutes first. If you’re going to keep an old toothbrush or two handy for cleaning, just make sure to mark them in a way that means they won’t get mixed up with your new one!
- cleaning – old toothbrushes can come in handy for all sorts of fiddly cleaning jobs. You could use yours to brighten up the grout of your tiles or get the grime out of the nooks and crannies of your hob. You might also find them handy for cleaning plug holes, vents, filters, shoes, sports boots and more.
- gardening – build up a collection of old bamboo toothbrush handles and you could reuse them as markers for your plants and herbs, using a permanent marker pen or outdoor paint to mark them with.
- diy – if you have any decorating projects coming up, a stash of old bamboo toothbrush handles can come in useful as paint stirrers.