Don't toss your toothbrush just yet

Is America ready for the recycled toothbrush? A small company in Somerville, Mass., thinks so. Recycline Inc. (www.recycline.com) is selling toothbrushes complete with postage-paid mailer bags so consumers can send them back when they're done. The handle of each "Preserve" brush is made from recycled plastic. (Relax, the brush itself is virgin nylon). When the company gets its toothbrushes mailed back, it tosses them - packaging and all - into a bin to ship to other companies that make plastic lumber for such things as park benches. If all toothbrushes in the US were recycled, the company estimates the nation would divert 37.5 million pounds of waste from going to landfills every year.

Recycline sold about 150,000 Preserves last year. Eric Hudson, the company's president and founder, says, "The response has been great." Sales are up 150 percent from a year ago. And the company plans to introduce a child's version this year. The recycled toothbrush sells in organic-food stores for $3.79 (with the mailer bag), or for a $17.50 annual subscription, the company will send consumers a recycled toothbrush every three months.

"As far as we know, there is no competition," Mr. Hudson says. Maybe that's not so surprising.

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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