Zero waste oral hygiene was, for some reason, one of the last items I tackled on my zero waste bathroom to-do list. I’m not sure why, but it seemed quite intimidating.
I’ve finally – almost – fallen into my ideal routine, so I thought I’d share my thoughts with you. Note: everything you do in terms of zero waste oral hygiene should be done with a consideration first towards health and second towards achieving low waste.
Your teeth are important, friends. Talk to a dentist!
I bought a soft and medium WooBamboo toothbrush since they were available locally. I’ve been using the medium option for about a month now and I really like it. I mean, as much as one can have positive feelings toward a toothbrush?
I guess I mean it serves its function and I haven’t seen any noticeable changes since switching from a traditional plastic brush.
- available both online and locally. I’m not the greatest at planning ahead so I like that I can pick these up at stores like Fresh Thyme if I need them ASAP and not waste resources having them shipped.
- relatively cost-effective. You can get a four pack for about $16. That’s not wildly off what you’d spend for a higher-end plastic toothbrush and $16 could last you for about a year.
- the bristles are made from Dupont Tynex nylon, so not biodegradable. Most bamboo toothbrushes will have the same issue (unless you go for something non-vegan, like pig hair) so this isn’t a total deal breaker.
- the bottom of the handle has started to get moldy. Obviously I didn’t consider that the brush may start the process of decomposition while I’m still using it! I usually store my brushes in a tall, narrow box but have made some adjustments so the bottom of the brush doesn’t stay moist and get moldy.
For a long time I used Tom’s of Maine since they offer a neat, free recycling option through Terracycle. Then I decided to step up my game and get away from the plastic entirely, trying Lush’s tooth tabs. They tasted awful to me, though, so I quickly moved away from those.
As I was wandering through a local shop last week, I saw a display of Fig + Yarrow options and decided to give their cornmint + lavender tooth powder a try. Surprising to say, I actually really like it – it only took one use to get over the strange salty taste you get from the baking soda.
I also really like that I can look at the ingredient list and know exactly what everything is and what its purpose is. I’ll be curious to see its efficacy in the long run!
Ingredient list: Sodium bicarbonate (baking soda), White kaolin clay, Xylitol (non-GMO), Sodium chloride (Salt of the Dead Sea), Stevia rebaudiana (stevia), Commiphora Myrrha (myrrh), Azadirachta indica (neem), Aloe ferox (aloe), Elettaria cardamomum (cardamom), essential oils of Mentha arvensis (cornmint), Foeniculum vulgare (fennel), Lavendula angustifolia (lavender).
We’re currently finishing up the last standard floss from our stockpile of random samples we’ve been collecting over the years. Once that’s finished, I’m committed to purchasing a less wasteful option. This option is a bit easier for me as I’m not vegan and there are plenty of silk options that are easily compostable.
I’m considering the Dental Lace option as it comes in a refillable glass option that would make the item practically zero waste (aside from the transport energy, but we’ve got to pick our battles somehow!).
I use a simple recipe from Paris to Go. She outlines it as “Boil 500 mL water and cool to room temperature. Add 30 drops peppermint essential oil and 15 drops clove essential oil. Shake well. Store in pharmaceutical grade amber glass (mine’s an old Aesop bottle). Swish using small glass beakers.”
I feel refreshed and clean after using it, but I’m still on the fence as to whether I’ll go back to using a fluoride wash any time soon. Indiana water naturally contains .1-.2 mg/l where being effective to fight tooth decay is .7. We’ll see.
As with all of your zero waste explorations, it’s important to remember to prioritize health over being completely zero waste. Do what you’re comfortable with and what works for your body!
Tell me about your dental routine! What steps/products have you taken to reduce your waste in this unavoidable area of your bathroom routine? What zero waste oral hygiene wisdom can your impart in the comments below?