If you haven't heard of such a thing, listen up. Over one billion plastic tubes end up in U.S. landfills, which is pretty damn high. "Finding zero waste options for all of the products we use, including toothpaste, is important in order to help minimize the amount of waste we create, since this waste typically winds up in our oceans and landfills creating a negative effect on our environment," says Eric Buss, founder and CEO of David's Natural Toothpaste.
So what is zero waste toothpaste, you may ask? It's not literally zero packaging, but it reduces material use for your oral care essential as much as possible, and makes them more sustainable. "Zero waste toothpaste is about creating a toothpaste that minimizes the amount of waste being created, primarily through the packaging," explains Buss. At David's Natural Toothpaste, the brand uses a recyclable aluminum metal tube, since there is "no limit to the number of times that aluminum can be recycled, plus aluminum works extremely well to seal in the freshness of the toothpaste itself," he says.
The main negative thing about conventional toothpaste is that it's a goopy material that's inside the tube, which complicates the recycling process. "The issue with conventional toothpaste, is that the tube is left over with residual paste," says Idelle S. Brand, ND, a holistic dentist based in New York. This typically makes it difficult to recycle. Zero waste toothpaste, then, isn't made from a plastic tube—it's typically packaged in glass jars or aluminum tubes, which both aim to be friendlier to the environment. In news to me, teeth "tablets," which are actual tablets that look like mints but are packaged in glass jars, work to clean your mouth just like toothpaste, without the plastic and the residue.
That said, once you start looking for a zero waste oral care option, you'll notice that there are a lot—so it's good to know just what to look for. "There are a number of zero waste oral care products available, but I'd argue that the effectiveness of the product should really come first," says Buss. "Does the toothpaste maintain your oral care at the highest level? Cavities are caused by the bacteria in plaque that eats through enamel, so the most important function of an effective toothpaste is to stop and reduce plaque. Make sure any zero waste oral care option being considered is designed to reduce plaque. And make sure all the packaging is recyclable, and FSC certified."
Keep scrolling for the best zero waste toothpaste options.
According to Buss, David's toothpaste uses high-grade mint oil that has antibacterial properties to help kill the bacteria that creates plaque. Also, the brand lets regular users specify packaging items to exclude from their shipment. "If David's users already have a cap and don't want the tube key and box, they can put notes on the address line of their order when ordering," he says.
2. Georganics Natural Toothpaste, $15
This English-based brand makes fluoride-free toothpaste that's sold in a recyclable glass jar, combined with an aluminum lid and compostable box. Georganics also makes toothpaste tablets and toothpaste powders if those are more your speed, too.
Family-run brand Uncle Harry's makes a variety of zero-waste toothpaste products, including this classic peppermint option that's spiked with calcium, magnesium, and phosphorus to strengthen your teeth. They also recently made the switch from plastic to metal lids so that the product is fully recyclable.
Dirty Hippie lets you suds up on your own with their minty tooth powder, which turns into more of a paste once you mix it with water. It's a blend of baking soda, bentonite clay, activated charcoal, and minty organic peppermint for that fresh feeling.
Bite is a sustainable oral care brand you can actually get a subscription for (optional, though)—you put the tablet in your mouth, bite into it, then add your toothbrush and water for a foamy cleanse. And the bottles are glass, and refills are sent in compostable pouches—zero plastic at all.
This organic tooth powder option uses a mouth-refreshing mix of various detoxifying clays, baking soda, cinnamon, and invigorating essential oils to make your mouth feel and look clean. You just dip a damp toothbrush into the powder (which comes in a glass jar) and brush.
By the way—here's how to brush your teeth, because it actually matters whether you rinse then apply toothpaste or apply toothpaste then rinse. Also, dentists reveals his secrets on how to get whiter teeth (they would know).
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