“Zero Waste” is a movement that is gaining momentum both in the United States and around the world. Those who practice Zero Waste — Zero Wasters – seek to eliminate trash, waste by-products, and excess materials that eventually find their way into landfills and take years, if ever, to decompose. So, considering the disposability of toothpaste tubes and brushes, as well as plastic tooth flossers and other dental products, is it possible for zero wasters to reduce their waste to zero while maintaining good dental health?
Leave No Trace
To ensure good dental hygiene and health, dentists encourage replacing a toothbrush every few weeks, especially following a cold or flu. Needless to say, this could pose a problem for Zero Wasters. It’s been reported that landfills receive more than 80 million pounds of toothbrushes every year. And don’t expect those toothbrushes to be biodegradable. They’re not.
As it turns out, what seems to be an impossible task happens to be doable, at least mostly. Some Zero Wasters claim to have reduced their waste into such a small amount that it can fit into a small jar and discarded not once a week or even once a month, but once a year. One woman, featured in National Geographic, was able to downsize her waste output to the point that she fit two years of trash into a 16-ounce jar. Amazing. But how would she and other Zero Wasters address oral hygiene concerns?
Oral Hygiene and the Ecosystem
Obviously, brushing your teeth is a priority and using a plastic toothbrush that has to be replaced every few weeks can pose a conundrum. Don’t worry; you needn’t sacrifice your health to save the planet. There are products that are considered sustainable, renewable and biodegradable and can support your goals of zero waste and good health.
To be considered renewable, biodegradable and sustainable, the entire toothbrush has to be manufactured from materials that adhere to those properties. Biodegradable toothbrushes are manufactured from bamboo, but what about the bristles? Because nylon and bristle brushes are out of the question, a good toothbrush choice for Zero Wasters will have plant-based bristles – tapioca and corn are two possibilities – together with the bamboo brush. These newfangled toothbrushes are 100% natural and totally compostable. Plus, bamboo is one of the fastest growing plants, meaning that no trees were hurt in the making of your toothbrush. And what about the packaging? That too is biodegradable, made of cello, recycled wood and/or cotton pulp.
With regard to toothpaste, a simple internet search will yield many recipes for “Zero Waste Toothpaste.” Zero Wasters make the point that while toothpaste boxes are recyclable, the tubes are not. Instead, they manufacture their own toothpastes with ingredients like baking soda, organic coconut oil, and essential oils for fresh breath.
If you are considering reducing waste and becoming more sustainable and are concerned about yours and your family’s oral hygiene, speak with your dentist about products that are renewable, but also safe for your teeth and effective in keeping your mouth healthy.
Dedicated Dental, located in Henderson, NV, will help you to put on your best smile. We provide excellent dental services that will fit your needs and budget. Call for an appointment today at (702) 566-5509 or visit our smile gallery online, featuring real patients who’ve experienced real results.