Last week, in the spirit of new beginnings and healthier habits, we explored several ways to make laundry routines more eco-friendly. For the third week of January, we're focused on oral hygiene products that are safer for people and planet.
Week 3: Oral Health & Dental Care
It's easy to think that there is little in common between our oral health routines and the environment, but unfortunately there's a lot we need to be aware of, and a lot at stake. Once upon a time, it was a big deal for people to adopt an “environmental conservation” mindset by getting into the habit of turning the faucet off while brushing their teeth. To be sure, it’s still a good idea to conserve water whenever we can, but there’s more to being “eco” (and just more people-friendly) with dental care than that. Plus, there are some concerning aspects of toothpaste ingredients that shouldn't be overlooked.
First, there’s the issue of what we’re putting in our mouths on a daily basis. Traditional toothpastes and oral hygiene products often contain toxic chemicals such as titanium dioxide, triclosan, and sodium lauryl sulfate, parabens, propylene glycol, saccharin, carrageenan, aspartame, diethanolamine...(and more), many of which can have negative impacts on both personal health and the environment. Synthetic flavorings, abrasive agents, and other additives may even disrupt the natural balance of oral microbiota, which could contribute to increased risk of oral infections and diseases.
Then – there’s the topic of waste. Plastic toothbrushes alone produce a staggering 50 million pounds of plastic waste per year. (Every toothpaste tube you’ve ever used and thrown in the trash is still on this planet somewhere, isn’t that a little jarring? About 1.5 Billion plastic toothpaste tubes end up in US landfills each year.) And, since the shelf-life of a typical toothbrush is relatively short, we're constantly replacing them, thereby perpetuating the cycle of one-time use consumable plastics manufacturing. (By the way, all the plastic toothbrushes ever made still exist, too.)
On top of all that, many conventional dental care products are tested on animals.
Thankfully, there are some innovative and more sustainable alternatives out there you can try, from plastic-free toothbrushes to chewable toothpaste and zero-waste vegan floss in refillable containers.
Check out these brands that are making a difference in the dental care space. They are sustainably packaged / refillable, natural / organic, cruelty-free / vegan, people-friendly, and planet-conscious:
Bamboo Toothbrushes Instead of one-time-use plastic toothbrushes, consider making the switch to natural bamboo toothbrushes.
Naturally free from harmful chemicals and toxins, bamboo toothbrushes are safer and just as durable as plastic toothbrushes. And since bamboo is a sustainable and biodegradable material, it makes a great substitute for the typical brush. Plus, bamboo’s natural antibacterial properties can help maintain oral hygiene and prevent bacterial growth on the toothbrush itself.
(Note: Some parts of your bamboo toothbrush might not be biodegradable, like its nylon bristles. Before composting your used bamboo toothbrushes, remove the bristles first.)
It only takes one or two times to get the hang of it, and to be honest, it's kind of fun! The flavor of toothpaste tablets provides the same refreshing sensation as traditional toothpaste, leaving your breath as feeling clean and fresh as ever.
They come in minimal packaging, are super travel-friendly, and are ideal for all ages.
No single-use squeeze-y tubes, no toothpaste gunk on your sink, no arguments about replacing the cap, and no worries about germs when you share. UnPaste tooth tabs come in a certified compostable bag printed with organic ink. No plastic, and no waste.
Store them in glass jars with bamboo lids, and you’ve got yourself fresh take on toothpaste!
Plus, instead of using potassium nitrate found in most other sensitive toothpaste to numb the nerves, Davids uses Nano-Hydroxyapatite to repair the enamel & block the passageways to the teeth nerves. Davids also uses premium micro abrasives made from natural sandstone and quartz powder to polish the surface stains from teeth and naturally whiten without the use of chemicals. We carry several varieties of Davids toothpaste, including one for those with sensitive teeth.
Plastic-free Dental Floss Traditional dental floss is made from non-recyclable and non-biodegradable materials that contribute to harmful plastic waste in landfills and the ocean — not to mention putting plastic directly in your mouth. Most of the time, the little containers they come in are too small to reuse or recycle, too.
We love this refillable vegan dental floss; it offers the same benefits as traditional floss, except it doesn't rely on fossil fuels—and it's refillable! Made from corn starch and coated in all-natural candelilla wax and infused with mint essential oils, MamaP dental floss comes in a recyclable glass dispenser that you can refill over and over again.
This amazing company also donates 5% each purchase of floss toward keeping our oceans clean (among other charities for social good), so we kind of love them.
All-Natural Gum & Mints You might not think of it as oral care, but our favorite all-natural gum actually contributes to the health of your teeth and mouth.
It's free from all the additives, chemicals, and sugar found in other gum, and it's sweetened with tooth-friendly xylitol which helps neutralize acidity, protect your teeth, and freshen your breath. Zellie's are also GMO free, made in a soy-free facility, and meet strict vegan, kosher and diabetic dietary requirements. And as an added bonus, if you or someone you know suffers from dry mouth as a result of aging or medications or sickness, Zellie's helps combat dry mouth.
So, although the dental health industry is rather fraught with plastic / chemical / waste issues, your personal oral hygiene routine doesn't have to be. Just try one or two of these eco dental "swaps" above, and see what works for you. And as always, please feel free to share your own tips and favorite products with our community in the comments.
P.S. Bonus Tip: Next time the dentist offers you a plastic baggie full of plastic dental floss, plastic toothbrushes, and toothpaste in a tube... say no.
Next week, we plan to explore the benefits of switching to all-natural candles in your home.
~The Team at What's Good For All Shades of Green™
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