Once Returned, A Toothbrush Lives On As A Picnic Table

Continuum helps Preserver, a toothbrush maker, rethink the recycling of its wares.

Once Returned, A Toothbrush Lives On As A Picnic Table


It makes good sense to recycle your computer, your plastic bottles, your old Fast Company magazines (so we can turn them into new ones!) But your toothbrush? Gross.

Still, if you replace your toothbrush every three months, as the American Dental Association suggests, that’s four toothbrushes a year. Multiply that by every man, woman and child in America, and that’s a staggering 1.25B (with a B!) toothbrushes a year.

With numbers like that, Preserve, the eco-friendly products company, saw an opportunity. They’d been making toothbrushes, sold through Target and Whole Foods, from recycled yogurt cups since 1997. Why not devise a way to recycle those grubby, bristle-blasted sticks of plastic? They enlisted the design firm Continuum to find come up with the strategy. The result: a Mail-back Pack that protects the toothbrush when it’s new, then doubles as a return envelope when the user is done.

Preserve takes the cast-offs and turns them into plastic lumber for picnic tables and boardwalks. These folks live their new (Continuum-generated) motto: “Nothing Wasted. Everything Gained.”

About the author

Linda Tischler writes about the intersection of design and business for Fast Company.



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