4 Sustainable Swaps For An Eco-Friendly Dental Routine

According to research carried out by Garnier and TerraCycle, only 50% of bathroom packaging is recycled, compared to 90% of kitchen packaging. A lot of cosmetic packaging is not recyclable due to the wide variety of plastics being used on one product.

Adopting a waste-free beauty routine can be overwhelming due to the vast array of products out there (that’s where Elm can help!). However, a simple and cost-effective way to reduce your bathroom waste is by starting with your dental routine. 

Step 1: Toothbrush

Conventional toothbrushes are made of a variety of different plastics, which cannot be recycled, and take more than 500 years to decompose. With the average person changing their toothbrush every 3-4 months, and the world’s population around 8 billion, that is a hell of a lot of toothbrushes going into landfill. 

You can help contribute to less waste from toothbrushes by switching out your plastic toothbrush for an eco-friendly alternative. The majority of the alternatives out there are made from bamboo, which is an eco-friendly, natural material that’s able to grow without the use of toxins. Most bamboo toothbrushes will need to have their bristles removed with pliers beforehand before recycling, however there are a few options out there that offer biodegradable bristles also.

The Pearly White Club offers a bamboo toothbrush subscription service, where you can choose whether to receive a new toothbrush either monthly or bi-monthly. The bamboo handle on all of their toothbrushes is 100% biodegradable and compostable, however the bristles will need to be removed before composting.

Earth Kissed Bamboo toothbrushes are 100% biodegradable, so when you’re done you can recycle or compost the whole thing. Their bristles are made from a BPA-free eco nylon which is a fully biodegradable material. In case you don’t know, BPA’s are a chemical used to make certain plastics that can seep into drinks, possibly leading to an increased risk of health problems such as increased blood pressure, heart disease and impaired brain development in children.

For those who prefer an electric toothbrush, Georganics offer a scheme whereby when you purchase their Sonic Toothbrush you can send the toothbrush heads back to them for recycling, as part of their Zero To Landfill waste scheme.

Step 2: Toothpaste

Most traditional toothpaste tubes are made from multiple materials laminated together, such as plastics and aluminium. Because of this mix, the tubes are not recyclable. However, there are alternatives out there.

Colgate has recently launched its first recyclable toothpaste tube, and hopes to make all of its packaging recyclable by 2025. While this is a step in the right direction, with a lot of smaller plastic items unable to be recycled, I do wonder whether they will actually be recycled or still end up in landfill.

Plastic items that are less than 40 x 40mm are unlikely to be recycled because they will fall out of the recycling process in a step that is designed to remove small items of dirt and contamination. Even if it is able to be recycled, the same piece of plastic can only be recycled about 2-3 times before its quality decreases to the point where it can no longer be used.

With this in mind, I do feel it’s better to avoid plastics altogether and opt for a glass or aluminium option which can be more easily recycled and reused without losing its quality.

There are many alternatives to your traditional toothpastes out there, from tooth powders to tablets to more traditional pastes, without the plastic packaging.

Georganics stock a variety of tooth tablets, powders and pastes in a variety of flavours. They all come in plastic-free packaging and are free of any synthetic chemicals like peroxides or synthetic flavourings.

The White Teeth Box sells a range of eco-friendly natural dental products. My favourite is the tin of toothpaste tablets. They also offer cardboard refills so you don’t have to repeat buy the tins.

Step 3: Mouthwash

While conventional mouthwash bottles are typically recyclable, they often come wrapped in non-recyclable plastic wrapping and contain harmful ingredients such as alcohol and SLS’s.

The alternatives are much better for your body and the environment – no harmful ingredients and plastic free!

Eco-friendly dental experts, Georganics have mouthwash tablets which are a great plastic-free alternative. You just dissolve one tablet in 20ml of water, and gargle, as you would with any mouthwash. They come in a variety of flavours to suit anyone’s tastes.

If you want something that’s eco-friendly and looks great on your bathroom shelf, look no further than Waken mouthwash. Not only is it in a recyclable aluminium bottle, vegan and contains natural ingredients, it comes in a beautifully designed bottle.

Step 4: Flossing

Dental floss is not recyclable and can easily end up in oceans, and with it being so small and strong can end up being harmful to animals.

There are a number of plastic-free dental floss alternatives out there, which are made from corn starch or silk floss, which are biodegradable, however the latter is not vegan. They often come in glass or aluminium containers, cutting out the need for the traditional plastic outer packaging. A lot of brands offer zero-waste refills too so you can use the container over and over.

Bambaw makes vegan dental floss that is compostable in an industrial compost and is made from a corn-based plastic (PLA). The bioplastic is as strong as traditional plastic, but it is made from renewable resources.

For those that like less faff (me!) and prefer dental floss sticks, Knotty Floss’s dental picks are 100% biodegradable. The handles are made from biodegradable corn starch, and the floss from sustainably sourced bamboo.

Making these eco-friendly changes to your dental routine is a great start in your journey to a zero-waste bathroom cabinet. If you try any of the products mentioned in the post above or have any other recommendations, please let us know in the comments!

Pip x


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