Updated: Mar 11, 2021
In today's environmental crisis we are trying to use less plastic to avoid polluting the planet even more - but plastic has become so common that we can hardly do anything without using it. Even simple, every day things like brushing your teeth involve using a lot of plastic. Until recently I didn't realize how bad their impact was on the planet because not a lot of people talk about it. When people say pollution and plastic I imagined plastic bags and bottles but that is hardly it, because plastic is literally everywhere and in everything.
When it comes to oral hygiene I wanted to share some very worrisome facts with you to increase awareness.
Your toothbrush is something you use all the time and you can't live without, therefore the demand for them has been consistently increasing throughout the years. This is why around 3.6 billion plastic toothbrushes are purchased every year worldwide. However, toothbrushes are very, very difficult and often impossible to recycle because they end up in landfills where they take 400 years to decompose and end up polluting our beaches and oceans.
A really scary fact is that every toothbrush you ever used still exists on Earth. Furthermore, the average person will use around 300 toothbrushes in their life, with 8 Billion people on the planet that's 240 Trillion toothbrushes! Now you see why your toothbrush is such a big problem for the environment.
However, there are alternatives to plastic: get a bamboo toothbrush. They are biodegradable because bamboo is completely natural material. Bamboo doesn't have high carbon footprint either, because it is a very fast growing plant and can be grown in many different environments.
We don't go through as many mouth wash bottles as toothbrushes. However, most of us use it on a daily basis to kill the bacteria left after brushing our teeth. Almost all mouthwash brands are sold in big plastic bottles which are not eco-friendly but are cheaper to produce. Some brands contain ingredients that can stain your teeth. Another thing is that "mouthwash that kills 99.9% of bacteria" is not necessarily good, this is because it also kills the good bacteria in your mouth (that helps with saliva production and prevents tooth decay.)
A sustainable option is to purchase mouthwash tablets, which you dissolve in water before using them. The first time you buy them, they come in a glass bottle and after that you would just receive refills that come in a paper bag, which is completely compostable! They are made of 100% natural, sustainable ingredients and are vegan and cruelty-free. They are also perfect for travelling because they are not in a liquid form, create zero waste, and don't contain any harmful ingredients.
Toothpaste tubes are made of different types of plastic and metal layered together. When you dispose of your empty tubes there is still toothpaste leftovers in the tube. This means only one thing: they are impossible to recycle. Even if you were to find a way to clean them properly, since the tube is made of mixed materials there is no way to recycle it and it would take hundreds of years to decompose. And we go through a lot of them - over 1 billion toothpaste tubes are thrown away each year in the United States alone.
Since you can't recycle it and you can't go without it, the only eco-friendly option is to buy plastic free toothpaste. It is vegan and cruelty free and is made of 100% natural ingredients, therefore there are no harmful additives. And once it is finished you can reuse the little jar or recycle it!
Dental floss is normally made from nylon and unlike plastic it doesn't take 400 to decompose, but still, it takes more than 50 years. However, floss does come in a plastic box, which will take about 500 years to decompose so buying floss still creates a lot of damage to the environment. Floss is really important when it comes to oral hygiene and luckily, there is a great alternative - bio gradable floss is exactly the same as nylon one, but without the terrible impact on the planet. It comes in a little glass box which you can then reuse forever by purchasing refills! It is great because you wouldn't even feel the difference between the two, but one of them is so much more sustainable!
If you add up everything we use for our oral hygiene: toothbrush, toothpaste, floss and mouthwash it adds up to a lot and none of it can be recycled! Since these are items we use so often, it is really important to go for more eco-friendly products in order to reduce the pollution rates. And a lot of them are better for you because they are made of natural ingredients only, no toxins or chemicals!