If you’re into reducing your environmental impact, you’ve likely heard about, or already switched to a bamboo toothbrush. It’s one of the simplest swaps out there, serving the same function as a standard plastic toothbrush, but without the whole “lasts-forever-and-might-end-up-in-the-ocean” thing.
While the bamboo handle is a simple compostable switch, the bristles aren’t quite there yet. Most bristles are made with some form of polyester or nylon, which can’t be composted. Our bamboo toothbrushes, made by Brush with Bamboo, have bio-based nylon bristles, which are formulated with 62% castor bean oil, but still aren’t compostable. The natural bristle alternative would be boar’s hair, but they tend to fall apart quickly and as a vegan, I opt not to use products made from animals for ethical and environmental reasons. From my conversations with non-vegans, plenty of others also prefer not to put animal hair in their mouth.
So, how do you make sure that the toothbrush handle gets composted, and that the bristles are safely disposed of? For a while I just had bamboo toothbrushes piling up in my bathroom cabinet, while I waited for the inspiration to take the needed steps to properly dispose of them. I tried two different methods - each has its pros and cons, so I’ll share both and let you decide.
Method #1: Pull the bristles out with pliers
This method is for the die-hard zero wasters; if you want to make sure that every bit of bamboo gets properly composted, whip out your pliers and start pulling out those bristles. The trick here is to make sure that none of the little plastic bristles can go flying away and potentially harm wildlife - be sure you’re pulling out bristles directly over a trash bag, and tie it tightly before you throw it in a big bin. If you have a whole pile of used toothbrushes like I did, though, you might get tired of this method and want to switch to method #2 (I speak from experience).
Method #2: Snap the head of the toothbrush off
I prefer this method, because it’s WAY faster, and doubles as stress release. Also, since you’re keeping the bristles together, you don’t have to worry that the bristles might fly away on their way to the landfill, either. The thinnest part of a bamboo toothbrush is typically right below the brush head, which conveniently means that the natural breaking point will split the head from the handle. Firmly grab the brush head with one hand, the handle in the other, and snap! It’s surprisingly easy, but if this barbaric activity doesn’t appeal to you, you can pass the task along to a friend who needs the stress release more than you do.
So there you have it; two ways to remove the bristles from your bamboo toothbrush. Have you tried this? Which method worked for you? Share your comments below!