Is 2023 the year you start your low-waste or sustainable lifestyle journey? The bathroom is a great place to start! The personal hygiene products in your bathroom are a large source of waste, with toothbrushes, toothpaste, mouthwash, and floss being no exception. Here is our guide to help make your oral health routine an eco-friendly one.
Choosing Your Toothbrush
You may be wondering what is so wasteful about a standard toothbrush, since it gets used over and over. Though it is reusable for a while, when it comes to disposing of your old toothbrush, they are a complex item. “Regular toothbrushes are hard to recycle because they are made from many components, including plastics derived from crude oil, rubber and a mix of plastic and other agents,” says Dr. Nammy Patel, DDS. “It takes the plastic toothbrush over 400 years to decompose.”
An electric toothbrush where you only replace the head every so often may seem like a better option. However, they are often made out of plastic and the electrical components of the toothbrush are powered by nonrenewable sources. The eco-friendly electric toothbrush market is improving, and there are several sustainable options if you do prefer an electric toothbrush.
If you favor a regular toothbrush over electric for your pearly whites, bamboo toothbrushes are a great alternative to plastic due to their biodegradable and compostable qualities (and the simple aesthetic is an added plus).
A Mouthwash That Agrees with Mother Nature
It’s time we opt out of the commercial mouthwashes that are toxic for the planet and our health. Not only does mouthwash typically come in a massive plastic container, (that takes up the entire bathroom countertop), but have you ever read the ingredients on the back? There’s a good chance you cannot pronounce the majority of these toxic additives.
The ingredients in mouthwash such as chlorhexidine gluconate, ethanol (ethyl alcohol), hydrogen peroxide, and methyl salicylate kill bacteria in the mouth and add flavor to the product, but can be harmful in large amounts when entered into your bloodstream. You are swishing these toxins around in not only your mouth, but also washing them down the drain to be released into waterways, harming marine and wildlife.
Nix Mouthwash is a gentle, yet effective mouthwash made with natural ingredients and no artificial flavors. Instead of shipping a large plastic container filled with mouthwash, Nix Mouthwash crystals arrive in a small glass jar, shipped in 100% recycled packaging. Simply use the bamboo scoop to add mouthwash crystals into your own container, fill with water, and shake. Voilà – fresh breath without the toxic ingredients or plastic!
The Small but Mighty Impact of Floss
As small of a product it is, floss has a high environmental impact as it is non-biodegradable and non-recyclable. Floss is typically made of a nylon, a petroleum-based plastic, that is coated in wax. Even though nylon is recyclable, floss is too small to go through the typical recycling process, so instead it sits in the landfill for 50-80 years before it decomposes. The same goes for floss picks, due to their mixed-material nature.
A vegan, cruelty-free, zero waste option is our bamboo floss. The product comes in a small glass jar, while the floss is made from bamboo fiber that contains activated charcoal, organic tea tree oil, and organic peppermint oil. It’s compostable, too!
Any zero-waste, plastic free, or biodegradable floss product is a great alternative to traditional plastic and nylon floss (bonus points if you can purchase refills!). Another option is a water flosser, (also termed oral irrigator), which is a reusable, electronic oral health tool that uses a high pressure jet stream to “floss” your teeth.
Toothpaste Minus the Tube & Toxins
Did you know that 1.5 billion toothpaste tubes are thrown away and end up in a landfill each year?
Toothpaste is obviously an essential for a clean, healthy mouth, but we can certainly do without the plastic packaging. Sustainable alternatives on the market include toothpaste tablets, chews, or powders. If you’re not so sure about tabs or powders to freshen your mouth, aim for a toothpaste product that is packaged in a reusable glass jar or recyclable aluminum container such as David’s Premium Natural Toothpaste.
When you are deciding on your sustainable swap, don’t forget to also consider the ingredients in your toothpaste. Safe, non-toxic ingredients in a healthy toothpaste may include:
- Baking soda
- Activated charcoal
- Coconut oil
- Tea tree oil
- Essential oils (peppermint, cinnamon)
- Left extracts
You can also make your own natural toothpaste at home using some of the above ingredients! Check out this simple recipe.
Whether you have been living a low-waste lifestyle for years or are early in your journey, kudos to you for putting in the effort to make a change. Every bit counts! Making swaps can be overwhelming, so remember to start slow and go at your own pace. You do not need to throw out everything at once, and in fact, you shouldn’t! The most eco-conscious way to swap your oral health items is to first use up your existing products to prevent additional waste.
We recommend speaking to your dental professional prior to making changes in your oral care routine. Looking for an eco-conscious dentist that aligns with your lifestyle? Find dentists who are part of the Eco-Dentistry Association here.