If you're following the advice of the Centers for Disease Control, you should be trading your used toothbrush in for a new one every three months or so. You should also be brushing your teeth twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste and flossing at least once day.
While oral care is great for your teeth and your overall health, it can be bad news for the planet, since it can be difficult to recycle toothpaste tubes and toothbrushes. According to the U.S. Census, there are more than 324 million people in the U.S. If every person replaces their toothbrush four times a year, that means more than 1 billion toothbrushes will end up in landfills annually.
Luckily, Colgate has teamed up with TerraCycle to make it easier for people to recycle their toothbrushes and other oral care products.
What You Can Recycle
Through the program, you can recycle toothpaste tubes and caps, as well as your old toothbrushes and empty floss containers. The program also accepts the blister packs toothbrushes come in and empty toothpaste cartons or boxes. The oral care products can be from any brand.
The one type of dental product you can't recycle through the program is an electric toothbrush. That includes battery powered toothbrushes and their parts, such as the changeable brush heads.
How to Prepare Dental Products for Recycling
Any toothpaste tubes you send in should be empty, so you'll want to make sure you squeeze out the last bit of toothpaste from them. Recycling toothpaste tubes not only keeps those items out of the waste stream, it can help you save money since you'll be using as much as the product as possible. If you're sending in floss containers, make sure they are empty and don't have any bits of floss left inside.
You don't have to wash or clean things before you send them in, but you can rinse the toothbrushes, tubes or containers if you want. Just make sure that the items are fully dry before you pack them up, as UPS doesn't ship wet packages.
How the Products Are Recycled
To recycle your empty or used dental products through the Colgate Oral Care Recycling Program, sign up for a free account with TerraCycle. Put the products you are going to recycle into a box or other mailable package, then print out a free shipping label from the site. You can send as many or as few products as you like to be recycled, but if you want to participate in the TerraCycle points program, which allows you to earn points that can be turned into a monetary donation to a charity, you'll need to send it at least 2 pounds of toothpaste tubes and other products with each shipment.
You can get friends and family members to give you their used toothbrushes and empty toothpaste tubes to help you get to the 2 pound limit with each shipment. Another option is to set up a collection box at your job or at your child's school to help get more people involved. TerraCycle has a flier you can print out and attach to collection boxes to help people know what they can recycle.
Once TerraCycle receives your products, it sorts them, shreds them, then melts them to create a hard plastic that can be used in a number of products. In the case of your old toothbrushes and toothpaste tubes, they will be turned into upcycled backpacks, notebooks and pens. Colgate will donate the upcycled items to a number of schools in need in October.
If you've been diligent about changing your toothbrush, such as your Colgate 360° Advanced 4 Zone toothbrush, every few months and about brushing and flossing daily, keep up the good work! Now there's a way for your dedication to dental health to help others.