The toothbrush as we know it was created in China in 1498. It was made from a bamboo handle and pig hair bristle.
Bamboo is a native Chinese grass that can grow up to a meter a day and has been used in toothbrushes for 400 years.
30 million toothbrushes are thrown into landfill in Australia each year.
22,000 tonnes of toothbrushes a year go into landfill in the USA.
Biodegradable items don’t biodegrade well in landfill due to a lack of oxygen. A hot dog was found intact in landfill after 25 years. A newspaper was still readable after 50 years.
Lack of oxygen in landfill causes organic material to breakdown anaerobically producing methane gas, a more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide.
As far as we can tell plastic lasts forever in the natural environment.
Small plastic items such as bottle tops, clothes pegs, lighters, plastic cutlery etc are either blown, directly thrown, or are lifted by rainwater and carried into the storm water system. This puts them into streams and rivers that lead to the sea. Winds and currents move floating debris to areas of relative still, these areas are called gyres and they slowly rotate collecting more floating debris.
The size of the floating plastic garbage patch in the eastern north Pacific gyre is estimated to be 1,392,400 square kilometers. That’s twice the size of Texas or 5.2 times the size of New Zealand.
There are 5 gyres - the western north Pacific gyre, the southern Pacific gyre, the north and south Atlantic gyres and the Indian ocean gyre.
The plastic in the gyres is ground down into very small particles now nicknamed mermaid’s tears.
Mid-sized plastic items are ingested by seabirds and small pieces are ingested by fish.
Mermaid’s tears out number plankton by 6 to 1 in and around the gyres.
We’re serious about keeping plastic off our coastlines and beaches and out of our oceans.