Wednesday, January 30, 2013

That's tough to recycle?

If you had to guess, what would you say is one of the toughest items to recycle? Would you guess it’s a relatively small item used daily? I’ll give you a few hints. You use in in the morning and before bed, it helps keep your mouth clean and the dentist gives it to you for free. You guessed it, it’s a toothbrush!
One might be surprised to hear that an item they use daily is difficult to recycle. Why is it that something so small can be so complicated to recycle? Well, toothbrushes are made up of three different components—nylon, metal and plastic. All three of these materials need to be separated before they can be processed, which is where the difficulty arises. 
It’s pretty easy to determine which component is what on the toothbrush. The bristles are nylon and they are attached to the plastic handle by a metal staple. So, all three of these elements need to be separated before they can be processed. 
Once these components are separated, metals are processed through standard recycling, nylon and plastics are shredded, cleaned and pelletized for use in new products, which include picnic tables, benches, playground equipment, bike racks, garden tools and much more. 
So next time you’re sitting on a park bench, eating at a picnic table or even raking the lawn think about how those items might possibly consist of your families previously used toothbrushes. 
**Don't be afraid to wash and reuse toothbrushes for other projects. Throw your old toothbrush in the dishwasher and use it to clean the grout on your kitchen floor. Be creative and you can find many ways to reuse items! 


  1. What would be even better is if people composted their paper towels (thereby turning them back into humus) or used cotton towels that can be reused many times (or even composted when they become ratty). There are also crafty people who make un-paper towels made of flannel or terry cloth that can also be used oodles of times before they wear out.

  2. Thanks for the suggestion Christine!