Zero Waste Teeth


The first toothbrush you ever had still exists somewhere in landfill, and will still be there when your great-great-grandchildren are teething.

You probably want to see an end to this. In which case, you have three options:

1. Get yourself a biodegradable bamboo toothbrush, of which there are many different brands. There is a bamboo brush for every mouth, but my personal favourite is Humble Brush. As well as being good to use, it’s available in adult and child sizes and comes in a compostable wrapper and a box made from recycled cardboard.  It’s available in some branches of Waitrose or Holland and Barratt, or order online.

Otherwise, there are many types of bamboo toothbrushes on the market –  google is your friend here. (Just be wary of brands claiming their bristles are biodegradable).

(Two things to note: the toothbrush won’t decompose if it’s put in the general waste bin. It should go to the compost pile or food waste collection, if it is ever to be returned to Mother Earth. Also, make sure you rinse and dry it when you’ve finished using it. A wet bamboo brush will do what it is designed to do, which is, to rot.)

2. If a biodegradable toothbrush doesn’t suit,  a conventional toothbrush with a replaceable head will still go a long way to reducing waste. Source make theirs from recycled materials, or Yaweco  do them for a lower price. Both of these are available in health food stores or online.

3. If neither of those suit, there’s always Preserve toothbrushes made from recycled yoghurt pots. You can even send your used toothbrushes back to the company in the US for closed loop recycling.

Toothpaste

Sigh. A tooth-friendly zero waste solution to the problem of toothpaste tubes still eludes me. Some zero wasters make their own toothpaste from bicarbonate of soda, and Lush do a tooth powder containing bicarb in a recycled plastic pot. However, according to my dentist, brushing every day with the stuff will do your teeth no good.

It is possible to get toothpaste in glass jars that could be reused or recycled, but I’ve never found a brand yet that contains fluoride, another point which dentists tend to insist upon. Personally I’m not willing to risk tooth decay in order to prevent a relatively small amount of waste.

Dental Floss

First, is it worth bothering about such a tiddly piece of waste?

Some people worry about animals or birds being strangled by waste pieces of floss (although I’m not sure how likely this is to happen if you dispose of it properly in a bin). You might also want to find a zero waste alternative if you’ve given up your waste bin and have no wish to hang on to pieces of used floss in your landfill container. Or maybe zero wasters are just perfectionists.

Whatever your reason, here are your options:

Yaweco do biodegradable dental floss made from silk and beeswax.  The packaging is biodegradable, according to the manufacturer. (Like the toothbrush, though, it will need to be composted, not thrown in the landfill bin, to decompose).

Another, more stylish option is Dental Lace, refillable capsules containing silk floss coated in vegetable-based wax. The packaging is designed to look good if you are carrying it with you. These need to be ordered from the US. Ask for plastic-free packing.

For vegans, EcoDent  do standard floss in cardboard packaging, which can at least be recycled.

For interdental brushes, your plastic-free option are these by Dent-O-Care.

Otherwise, if sourcing zero waste floss seems like too much hassle, don’t worry. It’s just dental floss.

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