Do you ever wonder what happens to your toothbrush or toothpaste tube after you toss it in the trash? Disposable oral care products contribute heavily to plastic waste that ends up in landfills and oceans. All that plastic that we use to squeeze out toothpaste, brush our teeth, and floss is harming our planet. Luckily, there’s a solution: sustainable oral care products!
Changing up your routines in the bathroom and switching your oral care products can have a huge impact on plastic waste. By using oral care products that are biodegradable and reusable, you divert a significant amount of waste from landfills every year.
For years, oral care products have been exclusively made of plastic, but the change is already here. Many mission-driven oral care brands are giving people eco friendly options to fight the plastic problem. Naturally, we love these brands, and have everything you need for a sustainable oral care routine.
Why are oral care products so wasteful?
Oral care products, like toothbrushes, toothpaste tubes, and dental floss, are made of and packaged with plastic. They’re designed to be disposed of. Plastic is not biodegradable, and it lingers in our environment for hundreds of years. This isn’t just an issue of aesthetics and odours–it’s terrible for the environment. Once in the environment, plastic leaches chemicals and harms animals.
Single use plastics are entering our landfills and oceans at an alarming rate. Globally, 1.5 billion toothpaste tubes are tossed every year. In the U.S. alone, 1 billion toothbrushes get tossed annually.
Let’s take a brief look at how single-use plastics are harming the environment.
Harmful to wildlife
Animals mistake single-use plastic for food. They get injured by trying to eat it, either getting impaled or choking on it. If they do successfully eat it, it fills their stomachs, giving them a false sense of fullness, causing starvation.
Additionally, plastics contain chemicals like BPA and phthalates, known carcinogens and endocrine disruptors. These chemicals leach into soil and waterways, which in turn harms humans and wildlife.
Plastics don’t break down normally like other materials. Instead of breaking down fully, plastics break off into smaller and smaller pieces, called “microplastics.” These tiny pieces of plastic find their way into the water we drink, and microplastics bioaccumulate in people and animals. Did you know that every week, you could be eating a credit card’s worth of plastic?
Let’s take a look at each plastic offender, and recommend some sustainable oral care products.
Culprit #1: plastic toothpaste tubes
When it comes to oral care products, plastic toothpaste tubes are the worst offender for single use plastic waste. In the U.S. alone, 1 billion of them end up in the trash every year.
Plastic toothpaste tubes are made of several layers of plastic sandwiching a layer of aluminum. This helps the toothpaste squeeze out easily and helps the tube hold its shape.
Toothpaste tubes are made of resilient material, and many toothpaste companies claim that their toothpaste tubes are recyclable. In a perfect world, they may be recyclable, but our disposal system tells a different story. Only 9% of plastic waste actually gets recycled worldwide.
Sustainable swap: toothpaste tablets
Look for dry toothpaste tablets packaged in compostable pouches or toothpaste gel packaged in eco friendly glass containers.
Toothpaste tablets are a particularly great eco friendly option because they’re dry, making them incredibly easy to refill. Just grab a container and scoop your desired amount of tablets. We carry Change Toothpaste tablets in fluoride and fluoride-free. To use, just pop a tablet in your mouth, chew, and brush with a wet toothbrush.
Not only are these swaps more eco friendly, they’re healthier for you, too. They don’t contain any of the scary chemicals found in generic toothpaste, like SLS, triclosan, and artificial dyes.
Culprit #2: plastic toothbrushes
Like plastic toothpaste tubes, plastic toothbrushes have a whopping environmental impact. Americans alone toss 1 billion toothbrushes every year! Dentists recommend that we only use our toothbrushes for 3-6 months before tossing and replacing them.
Sustainable swap: bamboo toothbrushes
Bamboo is a wonder material. It’s biodegradable, unlike plastic, and it’s one of the world’s most abundant resources. Bamboo doesn’t contribute to deforestation, because it grows incredibly quickly, sometimes as fast as 1 metre per day! It can also grow in inhospitable areas with very little water and sunlight.
Bamboo also has the added benefit of being naturally antibacterial, which means it harbours less bacteria than plastic toothbrushes.
Plantish makes a refillable bamboo toothbrush so you only need to replace the head. Their bristles are biobased castor oil, and while they’re not biodegradable, they’re not petroleum based.
Culprit #3: Dental floss
Dental floss is a double whammy of waste. On the one hand, you have your plastic dental floss container, which is not refillable and just ends up in the trash. And on the other hand, you have dental floss itself that’s made of nylon or teflon, which is essentially….you guessed it, plastic. What you thought might have been cotton or silk is actually plastic spun into synthetic fibres. The floss is then coated in a petroleum-based wax, which is proven to be carcinogenic.
Sustainable swap: biodegradable floss in refillable containers
Eco friendly versions of dental floss use synthetic bamboo, corn, and other plant-based fibres for their floss. This makes them biodegradable. Additionally, the dispenser is reusable, made of glass or aluminum, and you simply need to refill them with floss spools.
Our Essence of Life floss is made of highly-compostable mulberry peace silk, and is shred-resistant, making it perfect for people with tight teeth. Our Eco Loco floss in convenient glass dispensers is coated in candelilla wax instead of beeswax, making it vegan.
Culprit #4: Floss picks
Floss picks are still a staple for many people, and are vital to disabled and elderly populations. Unfortunately, the plastic applicators make them incredibly wasteful.
Sustainable swap: bioplastic floss picks
If you must use floss picks, look for floss picks made with bioplastics. Bioplastic is biodegradable, though it looks and functions just like plastic. It takes a lot of time to biodegrade, but at least it does eventually.
Change Toothpaste offers floss picks made of corn starch.
Culprit #5: mouthwash bottles
Liquid mouthwash that comes in big bulky plastic bottles is far from eco friendly. Its liquid form makes bottling essential, and plastic bottles are far cheaper to produce and easier to transport than glass.
Sustainable swap: mouthwash tablets and liquid mouthwash refills
One of the best eco friendly swaps for mouthwash is mouthwash tablets. Because they don’t contain liquid, they’re easy to pack and transport. They can be shipped in compostable packaging or refilled at participating refilleries.
Our Tanit mouthwash tablets are powerfully minty with a delicious taste, and they come in a beautiful glass jar with a bamboo lid. To use them, just chew one in your mouth, take a sip of water from the sink, swish, and spit.
Alternatively, you can refill liquid mouthwash at your local refillery or have it delivered to your home. We offer refills of Green Cricket peppermint mouthwash and Spa Dent advanced whitening and total care.
If you’re looking for the generic stuff, you won’t find it at Roots Refillery. We carry all-natural, alcohol free mouthwash with no nasty chemicals. Alcohol dries out your mouth, causing bad breath and canker sores, and ingredients like SLS, triclosan, and synthetic dyes are unhealthy. If you’re looking for a natural mouthwash for sensitive teeth, our eco friendly mouthwashes are great options for you.
You may choose to switch to sustainable oral care products to reduce your environmental impact, but you’ll fall in love with the other benefits. They’re healthy, containing all-natural ingredients, and they beautify your bathroom (bamboo toothbrushes are cute). With delicious flavours and naturally beautiful packaging, they’re an unexpected source of joy. Cheers to that!
Head to our oral care section and get started on your new sustainable oral care routine today!