Clean Teeth, Piles of Garbage?
Floss and brush teeth daily, ideally at least once a day for the former and after each meal for the latter -- that's the dental hygiene advice we're all familiar with. But for such a simple routine, it generates a disturbing amount of waste. Plastic or nylon floss; toothpaste tubes, plastic toothbrushes... It all ends up in the landfill.
- If everyone in the US flossed according to recommendations, in one year, the country would fill a (NFL-size) football field SIX STORIES HIGH with floss dispensers! That's saying nothing of the floss itself. With that, you could circle the Earth 1,246 times. (Source)
- According to National Geographic, 1 billion toothbrushes will be thrown in the garbage in the US in 2019, most of them plastic.
- It's estimated that 400 million toothpaste tubes are sent to the landfill every year in the US. (Source)
(Sorry about all the US stats... it seems to be all that's out there!)
So What To Do?
The good news? There are solutions for each essential dental care step! You can have your very healthy teeth and gums, keep your dentist (and hygienist) happy, and feel good about not creating a ton of waste. Here are your options:
Option 1: Refillable
No, your conventional, name brand toothpaste doesn't offer a refill option (yet), however, there are smaller companies out there that are making high quality, natural toothpaste with bulk and refill options. Our favourite is Nelson Naturals, a family-owned BC company that offers a range of natural toothpastes that boast benefits such as being remineralizing, whitening or mineral-rich, depending which you choose. Buy a jar initially and then refill it forever!
Option 3: Toothpaste Tabs
Another great option for zero-waste toothpaste is to switch completely to toothpaste tablets. These can be purchased in bulk or by the jar and then refilled. You could think of these as dehydrated toothpaste! They're everything you'd expect in toothpaste, minus the moisture. This makes them a great option for camping or travelling (especially by airplane, as they're not restricted for carry-on).
Option 2: DIY
Some people choose to make their own toothpaste! You could, too. We aren't dental experts and we won't get into recipes here, but with a bit of research and the right ingredients, you could create your own toothpaste from scratch, personalized for your specific dental hygiene needs, and keep the waste out of the picture entirely.
Option 3: Recycle Your Tubes
No, not in your blue bin! Because conventional toothpaste tubes are made of a variety of different plastics and usually include a metal layer, they can't be recycled in municipal recycling programs. However, TerraCycle does offer an Oral Care Waste and Packaging box that anyone can order, fill, and send back for recycling. The smallest size is affordable enough that you could likely justify sharing the cost with a few friends so you could all rest easier knowing your dental care waste is being recycled properly.
Option 1: Compostable, refillable floss
Yes, this exists! Our friends at KMH Touches have innovated two options for compostable, refillable dental floss: one that is vegan and one made from silk. Both can go in any compost bin, and feature refillable containers. How amazing is that??
Option 2: Water flosser
If you find regular flossing uncomfortable, or want to avoid dental floss for any reason, a water flosser might be the way to go! This contraption is gentle, and you can reuse it indefinitely. Win-win!
Option 1: Bamboo toothbrushes
The cool thing about a bamboo toothbrush is that, while it's not 100% zero waste, the handle can go in the compost! When your toothpaste is worn out, simply snap off the head, throw that in the trash, and put the handle in the compost. If you buy a bamboo toothbrush with natural fibre bristles, the entire thing can be composted. Either way -- much better than a plastic toothbrush!
Option 2: Electric toothbrush
Because it has a replaceable head, an electric toothbrush could last you many years. This reduces waste and as you may know, electric toothbrushes are recommended by a lot of dentists for their extra cleaning powers anyway.
We hope these options have put a smile on your face! It's so nice to know that you don't need to sacrifice your oral health in any way in order to keep up your zero waste lifestyle.
Pssst! Guess what! All Nelson Naturals products are 20% off until July 28! This means toothpaste, toothpaste tablets, and refills of each (available in-store and through our Mobile Refillery). Shop now to save!