Sunday, February 18, 2018

Zero Waste Dental Care

Oral care is really important. I don’t need to be a dentist to know that once your teeth are gone- they are gone and so you better look after them as much as you can! I have been ''blessed'' with a huge sweet tooth and so I have been to the dentist more than I would wish on anyone. As I embarked on my Zero Waste journey, I knew that I will have to tackle this swap eventually and find solutions which are not only Zero Waste but really work for me as well. 
Here is what is currently in my dental kit : 

1. Toothbrush and a travel holder 

                     Wooden toothbrush and a bamboo holder for an easy and on the go solution 

Plastic toothbrushes. They are regarded as one of the most common items in modern homes. Most people change theirs every month or two which amounts to a lot of plastic over the course of a lifetime. This plastic is often not recycled and as a result, 4.7 bn toothbrushes are dumped into landfills and natural environments every year. With some products, one possible answer is to simply not use them. It is not really a good idea to do that with a toothbrush as our oral health would suffer, creating more problems in the process and so the search for an alternative begun.

I did some research on different products that are available and found a few options, none of them perfect but a lot better than what is currently available in terms of plastic. 

Two of the leading environmentally friendly toothbrush makers are Brush with Bamboo and the Environmental Toothbrush. The handles on both are made from bamboo which is a sustainable option as bamboo grows incredibly fast. The only problem is that both have bristles which are made from plastic. The toothbrushes are compostable apart from the bristles which you need to remove beforehand. As those bristles are tiny, they will not be recycled and so this solution is not perfect (at least the handle is biodegradable) but a lot better than other just plastic products. Brush with Bamboo seem to be pushing the boat in trying to increase the biodegradable component in their bristles but right now, there are no plant-based bristles available on the market.

I have spoken about balancing choices against each other in this post so you will know that I will try and opt for completely Zero Waste where possible, which may not be everyone’s choice. The toothbrush that I have been using has a wooden handle and the bristles are made from boar’s hair which makes this toothbrush fully compostable. Each toothbrush comes wrapped in a cellophane protector made from maize which  is biodegradable and a metal clip which can be recycled. It lasts just as long as a regular toothbrush but will biodegrade in no time in my back garden, compared to the hundred of years which will take for the plastic to break up. I invested in a bamboo toothbrush holder which I carry in my bag all the time. 

2. Dental Floss 

      It feels a million times nicer to floss knowing that it will biodegrade in my compost after use

Dental floss is one of those things which I use daily. I stopped using dental brushes as they are made of plastic but I was really reluctant to stop using floss as it really makes a difference to the state of my teeth. Commercial dental floss is made of plastic and so that was a no-go for me. I searched and searched until I found a dental floss made from silk.  It is 100% compostable so when I am finished with it, off it goes to my compost. I was going to make my own from silk thread but as this is now available in the UK, I found it easier to just get one. It comes in a handy glass packaging which is portable enough to go with you anywhere.  The refill comes in a biodegradable cornstarch-based wrapper which can be composted.  It is just as strong as the plastic one so this swap is 10/10.

3. Toothpaste

       A few ingredients that you already have at home can make really good and natural products 

So it seems that two my recent favorite items- coconut oil and bicarb can actually be mixed together to make a basic toothpaste. Add a few more ingredients and you have a homemade natural product which cleans your teeth just as well, if not better than a commercial toothpaste! I use it just like a ‘’normal’’ toothpaste -dip a bit on my toothbrush and brush away. Its all about the movement anyway, so I have been told by the dentist, so make sure that you stick to your two minutes of brushing! I will be sharing the recipe very soon so watch this space. 

Sometimes I get surprised with how easy a swap to a more sustainable option is. When it comes to dental care, the swaps work just as well as commercial products but with much less impact on the environment. As I have minimized my routine, everything is really portable and my bathroom cabinet has a lot less clutter in it too which is a nice bonus! 


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  3. Great post, I know very well the consequences of not being able to care for my teeth. I have been tortured by toothache for several years.

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