How many plastic toothpaste tubes do you go through in a year? Think about how many the country uses.
That’s how many end up in the landfill a year. It’s time to switch to zero waste toothpaste.
Don’t forget plastic doesn’t exactly decompose.
It breaks down into tiny pieces of plastic called microplastics.
They get so small – they’re now entering our air, water supply and even our bodies.
By the way, we don’t know exactly how plastic will affect us or how it will affect our children and children’s children.
So, the time to reduce our plastic use was yesterday.
But, the next best time to do it is today.
Making one easy change away from that plastic toothpaste tube is a great step forward.
The Role of Toothpaste in Oral Hygiene
Commercial toothpastes contain:
- abrasive compounds
- fluorides (to prevent tooth decay, cavities, and gum disease)
- detergents (to create that foaming action)
- antimicrobial compounds
- sometimes xylitol (a sugar-free sweetener that may help to reduce cavities).
So, when you brush your teeth, a few things happen.
Your toothbrush physically removes food, plaque and microbes from your teeth and tongue.
The abrasives in toothpaste do the same thing.
The antimicrobial compounds chemically attack and kill the microbes. The longer the compounds stay in your mouth, the more microbes they kill.
Now, let’s talk a little about fluorides and xylitol.
They are supposed to stay in contact with your teeth for a couple minutes.
Scientists believe they can prevent cavities, tooth decay and gingivitis.
But, there is still some debate about xylitol and if it actually works. For the most part, it is a sweetener without the calories.
Still, all these compounds work together in toothpaste to improve your oral hygiene.
And, with the right ingredients, you can make your own DIY toothpaste to be even more zero waste. But more on that later.
Also, for a low waste bathroom, you should try eco friendly toothbrushes, mouthwash, shampoo and zero waste razors.
Let’s get back to the zero waste toothpaste options you can purchase today.
Zero Waste Toothpaste Options
Here’s a quick summary of the best zero waste toothpastes out there:
|Nelson Naturals||Paste||glass jar, metal lid|
|Uncle Harry’s||Paste||glass jar, metal lid|
|Davids Natural||Paste||metal tube, plastic cap|
|Georganics Natural||Paste||glass jar, aluminum lid|
|Living Earth||Powder||glass jar, plastic lid|
Let’s get into more details.
Nelson Naturals get it. They are all about the zero waste toothpaste life.
This particular one is made with abrasives like calcium carbonate, bentonite clay, and sea salt.
The salt also neutralizes any acid (from food and bacteria) that could damage teeth.
The toothpaste has colloidal silver, xylitol, castile soap, moringa ingredients and essential oils.
The xylitol takes the role of preventing tooth decay. The colloidal silver and essential oils are the antimicrobials.
The oils used here are juniper berry, rosemary, peppermint and pine.
This toothpaste has no artificial colors, flavors, fillers, or fluoride. Just natural ingredients.
As for the packaging, it’s just a glass jar with a metal lid.
Both materials are recyclable. Infinitely recyclable actually. Glass and metal can be recycled over and over again without losing their strength.
But the brand does a little extra. It has partners across the US and Canada that can refill your container!
By the way, if mint isn’t your thing, you can try flavors like spearmint, citrus, cinnamon and fennel.
You can’t go wrong with Uncle Harry’s toothpaste. It ticks most of the boxes.
Its abrasives are bentonite clay, calcium carbonate and sea salt.
Colloidal silver and essential oils (eucalyptus, clove, wintergreen, and oregano) are its antimicrobial compounds.
Wintergreen gives you that minty freshness too.
The toothpaste also has mustard seed which is likely a preservative.
This toothpaste is fluoride-free, vegan and has no artificial flavors, coloring, or baking soda.
It comes in a glass jar with a plastic lid. Both are recyclable, but the plastic lid is a bit of a bummer.
One last thing to know, clay is naturally occurring and can have small traces of heavy metals like lead.
You’ll see a warning on the label as per Californian law, but the lead levels would be too low to cause any negative side effects.
Davids is a great family-run, US-based brand. If you insist on toothpaste in a tube, you should try this one.
Its abrasives are calcium carbonate, silica, and baking soda.
It has xylitol in there that supposedly protects teeth.
You’ll also find sodium cocoyl glutamate which gives you that foaminess and glycerin which improves viscosity.
The added extracts (peppermint, spearmint, anise, and wintergreen) are antimicrobials and provide that minty fresh flavor.
Davids toothpaste is fluoride-free, sulfate-free, and vegan.
It comes in a metal tube with a plastic cap and a metal key to roll the tub until it’s empty.
The metal (aluminum) parts are recyclable as well as the plastic cap.
Hopefully, they can develop a metal cap soon.
This zero waste toothpaste is coconut oil based.
Calcium carbonate, baking soda, diatomaceous earth and kaolin are its abrasives.
It also has caprylic and capric triglyceride, coconut oil and shea butter.
Did you know coconut oil has some antimicrobial benefits?
It’s true! The toothpaste also contains other antimicrobials like peppermint oil and limonene.
Georganics is dedicated to being eco friendly.
Its toothpaste comes in a glass jar with aluminum lid and the packaging is made from recycled materials.
As I’ve said before glass and aluminum can both be recycled over and over again.
So this zero waste toothpaste is a little different. It isn’t paste per se, but comes as tablets.
You have to chew the tablets a little and then brush as normal.
Each tablet is made with:
- xanthan gum
- stearic acid
- coconut oil
- magnesium stearate
- zinc citrate
- tea tree oil
- stevia extract.
Silica is likely the abrasive compound.
Sorbitol, cellulose and xanthan gum are thickening agents to keep the toothpaste in tablet form.
We’ve talked about xylitol a lot already.
The stearic acid, coconut oil and magnesium stearate are lubricants so they are likely used to hold the tablet together.
And you know coconut oil has antimicrobial benefits as does tea tree oil.
There are no artificial flavors, fluoride, or sulfates in this product.
The tablets come in a metal tin that can be reused, recycled or repurposed.
They are also looking into refilling their products (it’s still in the works).
Again this one isn’t exactly a paste – it’s a powder.
It’s made with activated coconut charcoal, bentonite clay, baking soda and peppermint.
The powder is an amazing teeth whitening product. You’ll see the results after the first use. That charcoal power is powerful stuff!
As for packaging, the powder usually comes in a glass tub with a plastic lid. They’ll be an even better zero waste toothpaste if their powder comes without plastic.
You can still recycle the lid though.
This Texas-based, mamma-run company is super small scale but it is committed to that zero waste lifestyle.
The toothpowders are hand-crafted and made in ultra-small batches. Its ingredients include:
- bentonite clay
- calcium carbonate
- Himalayan salt
- magnesium citrate
- peppermint essential oil
We’ve talked about these ingredients before. The first few are abrasive compounds and the peppermint is antimicrobial.
The unique thing about this toothpowder is it comes in food safe paper packaging! It’s the only one on this list that comes in paper – there isn’t a plastic layer or anything.
Transfer the powder into a container you have at home and add the paper to your compost.
They’re committed to that zero waste lifestyle.
How to Make Zero Waste Toothpaste
Lauren from Trash is for Tossers has a great Youtube video explaining how she makes her DIY zero waste toothpaste.
She combines baking soda, coconut oil and essential oils.
One thing I would change is the amount of essential oil drops in the recipe.
Essential oils are incredibly potent and can burn your sensitive skin.
I have a spearmint plant in my garden so I prefer to grind a half cup of the leaves and mix into the toothpaste.
You can do the same. Peppermint, rosemary, oregano and thyme leaves also have strong antimicrobial properties.
Niamh from Fairyland Cottage also has a zero waste toothpaste recipe on her Youtube channel.
Hers uses coconut oil, arrow root powder and essential oils. Again, I would use fewer essential oil drops.
More Tips for Improving Oral Health
As I’ve mentioned before, fluorides are believed to protect teeth from cavities, tooth decay and gum disease. But none of these zero waste toothpastes has fluorides in them.
So, my suggestion is to use a mouthwash containing fluoride.
Flossing is also important to remove any food bits stuck between your teeth that can cause tooth decay.
There are zero waste floss options that you can try too.
Eating healthy with less sugar foods and drinks will improve your oral health.
Bacteria feed on the sugary foods in your mouth and produce plaque, tartar and acid. All these can damage your tooth enamel, making them weaker and more prone to tooth decay.
You certainly don’t want that.
So, reduce that sugar intake. And, when you do eat sugary foods, be sure to brush your teeth after.
Salt water gargling is another crucial way to improve your oral hygiene.
The concentrated salt can kill bacteria in your mouth – even ones linked to gingivitis.
Use a tongue scraper too.
I do several times a day.
I think it’s one of the best ways to immediately improve your oral health. Scrape that tongue to remove those oral microbes on there.
That’s all I could think of right now.
What are your favorite zero waste toothpastes? What else do you do to keep your pearly whites clean and healthy?