Bamboo toothbrushes are great eco-friendly options for those who don’t want to contribute to the plastic menace damaging the environment.
If you are going to opt for a more environmentally friendly toothbrush, it’s also important to make sure you dispose of it properly.
Yes, a bamboo toothbrush will eventually decompose if you throw it out into the garden. But not all of it.
Most bamboo toothbrushes have non-biodegradable plastic bristles. The bamboo part of the toothbrush will rot away, leaving the bristles to keep polluting the environment.
There are better and eco-friendlier ways of disposing a bamboo toothbrush.
How Long Does It Take For A Bamboo Toothbrush To Degrade
A plastic toothbrush can take hundreds of years to break down naturally. Considering that billions of plastic toothbrushes are thrown away every year, it’s easy to see why they are such a scourge on the environment.
A bamboo toothbrush, on the other hand, will take about 5-10 years to degrade naturally if you just throw it out.
This is, obviously, better than a plastic toothbrush. But you can shorten this time even further by disposing the toothbrush properly.
Composting the toothbrush will degrade it in just a few months while burning it takes just a couple of minutes to get of rid of it.
How to (Properly) Dispose A Bamboo Toothbrush
There are three ways you can dispose your bamboo toothbrush without harming the environment: composting, burning and upcycling.
1. Remove The Bristles
Before using any of these disposal methods, remove the nylon bristles from the toothbrush and add them to your plastic recyclables.
You can find some all-natural bamboo toothbrushes that have biodegradable animal hair bristles. But these tend to be too firm and abrasive.
Nylon bristles are still the most effective at cleaning teeth and gums. They are also the most hygienic since they do not absorb moisture, which makes them unfriendly to bacteria.
But they’ll be around long after the bamboo part of the toothbrush as decomposed. To ensure they don’t end up in the ocean in some poor dolphin’s belly, pluck out the bristles with a pair of pliers or tweezers and add them to your recyclable plastics.
2. Burning (Easiest)
If you want a quick, no-hassle way of getting rid of your bamboo toothbrush, use it as kindling.
Normally, burning things like wood releases carbon dioxide, which worsens global warming. But bamboo releases less pollution when burned.
So burning your worn out bamboo toothbrush will not have a large negative impact on the environment.
You can throw the toothbrush in a wood fireplace or a fire pit.
Another way to dispose a bamboo toothbrush is to add it to compost. It’s similar to throwing it out in the garden, only it degrades much faster.
Instead of the several years it would take to decompose, it breaks down in about 6 months (though it can take longer depending on moisture level, temperature and type of compost).
You can mix the toothbrush with your organic waste and discard them together in a compost heap or bin.
If you do not have compost, you can just stick it in the soil. It will decompose faster in the soil than on it.
Tip: To quicken decomposition, break the toothbrush into small bits.
Another option is to give a second life to your old toothbrush, what’s called upcycling.
For instance, you can use it to clean stains and dirt off the bathroom floor or your gardening shoes. But make sure you dispose the toothbrush properly when it gets too worn out to be of any use.
Another idea is to use the toothbrush to label potted herbs, flowers or veggies. Write the name on the handle and stick the toothbrush in the soil.