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Reducing waste by reducing packaging

My new toothbrush and other brushing issues.

There are millions of toothbrushes thrown away everyday. I have been thinking about what I can do to reduce my toothbrush waste.

According to some dentists…

For the best results from brushing, you should
replace your toothbrush:

  • At least every three months
  • When bristles begins to show wear
  • After an illness such as a cold or flu

If everyone used four toothbrushes a year and lived 80 years (the average Canadian lifespan) they would throw away 320 in their lifetime.  If we had two colds a year and threw the toothbrush out that we were using at that time that number would jump to 480. So just for our family of four alone we would be throwing away at least 1200-1900 toothbrushes in our lifetimes if we used traditional tooth brushes. Our town has over 70,000 in it. That would be over 28 million toothbrushes for the lifetimes of our towns people at 5 toothbrushes a year. This year alone BC will throw away at least 22 million 816 thousand toothbrushes. On a nationwide level, that number goes up to 168 million 860 thousand toothbrushes thrown away each year. Where are all these toothbrushes going?   (look up)

My husband has an electric toothbrush that charges on a base. Only the heads get replaced. It’s definitely a better option than the battery operated ones. I decided to not go electric when buying my new toothbrush though. Most battery operated ones don’t have replaceable heads including all those ones marketed to kids.

My old toothbrush was way past needing replacement. After a lot of thought I bought this new toothbrush that only needs the top replaced.


  • Beautiful, long-lasting Bio-Plastic handles from recycled dollar bills, wood or flax blended with 100% recycled polypropylene.
  • Replaceable head, reduces 93% of waste from standard toothbrushes and lowers cost of brushing
  • Right or left hand configuration ensures dentist recommended 45º angle of bristle to teeth
  • Radial bristling allows brushing in tight spaces
  • Dramatically increases softness and efficacy of brushing with 65% more bristle tufts than ordinary toothbrushes
  • Non-aligned bristle layout to avoid tooth erosion
  • 3pks and 6pks packaged in assorted colors.  Colors subject to change.
I’m pretty psyched! Maybe it could make up for all the other years I have been using regular toothbrushes. I know that I don’t want as much waste in my life. Could these little changes make any difference in the world? I certainly hope so.
I recently bought the kids toothpaste from the Green Beaver company. My five-year old hated it. He complained for a week or too until I had to give in and buy the regular kind. I guess it was too flavorful for him. It was cool that it was a Canadian company plus they only use natural flavors. I guess that’s what I’ll be using after my toothy tabs run out. I think it tastes pretty good.The next thing I need to figure out, teeth-wise, will be floss. I haven’t found a product in store yet that has non-plastic packaging. One product that looks promising is called Vegan Floss by Eco-Dent. They say “as many as 700 million plastic floss containers are discarded each year!
As much as 9 million pounds of non-renewable, non-recycled floss containers not to mention wasteful secondary packaging, like boxes and blister-cards-end up in our already over-crowded landfills each year.  Only Eco-Dent VeganFloss offers you an alternative to this incredible packaging waste! Lower cost per flossing. Less Packaging Waste”. Hmmm, sounds pretty good.
Any opinions?

About stephanieough

Wife, mom, concerned citizen of the earth. Striving towards intentional living rather than blindly following. Former Education Specialist for a corporation, I have now taken a step back to spend time with my family and work closer to home. Hoping to reduce our waste through refusing, reducing and reusing so that we will not have to recycle as much. Also, I love to explore zero-waste fast food and take pictures of my sucesses. I'm a fan of British comedies like Red Dwarf and Black Adder, Kevin Smith and his movies, Asian food, documentaries, biographies and going to Las Vegas on vacation. If someone told me I could only listen to the Beatles for the rest of my life I would die happy.


2 thoughts on “My new toothbrush and other brushing issues.

  1. Hi Stephanie:
    Great stuff. Can I ask where you bought the toothbrush? Did you have to order it or did you find it in a store? Also, I find the toothpaste thing to be a problem as well. I really don’t want to use just baking soda as many people suggest and most everything else comes in packaging that is not very kind to the environment. I did get a box of toothy tabs from Lush when I was on vacation over the summer but I really did not like them. I felt like the baking soda was caught in my throat for several hours after I used them. I threw them out after just a few tries.
    Bea from the Zero Waste Home uses a brass gum stimulator. I have not tried it but I plan on mentioning it to my dentist on my next visit. In any event I think I will still need dental floss as I have several places where food gets trapped.

    Posted by Susan | October 9, 2011, 6:21 am
    • Hi Susan!
      I bought the toothbrush at one of our local organic/natural foods stores called Roots. You can order it online though. I liked it because it came with one replacement head and the refill packs are in 3’s. Baking soda as toothpaste is do-able in a pinch but I could never say it would be a permanent thing in my life. The Lush toothy tabs are not a delicious alternative either. I have been sticking it out though to finish the pack. The toothpaste I show in the post is made in Ontario and natural. It has very strong flavors of mint and orange which I like so far. The packaging is still an issue. I’m not sure of a solution that tastes good yet 🙂 Bea’s suggestion of of a gum stimulator might be great. I think I’ll ask my dentist too. How could we survive without dental floss though?
      Happy Thanksgiving,

      Posted by stephanieough | October 9, 2011, 2:45 pm

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