Due to the structure and materials needed for toothpaste tubes and traditional toothbrushes, they are a large contributor to waste as it is extremely difficult for these items to be recycled. Luckily there are a lot of options that can help you cut down on how much your oral hygiene routine contributes to landfills.
Many low waste toothpaste alternatives do not contain fluoride, so please be aware of the ingredients and consult your dentist with your environmental concerns.
I personally love the Denttabs Toothpaste tablets, because they contain fluoride and they DON’T contain xylitol. A lot of low waste toothpaste options contain xylitol, which is extremely toxic to pets so I prefer to not keep it in my home. If you have pets, I would highly recommend keeping an eye out in your toothpaste ingredients lists for it. The packaging for these tablets is made from cornstarch, so it is biodegradable. All you need to do is find a cute jar in your home that needs a new life for it and toss these tablets in.
If you have never used a toothpaste tablet, they definitely take some adjusting to figure out what works best for you. My preferred method is to break the tablet in half, brush with one half on one side of my mouth and then the other half for the other side. Since they are drier, you don’t get as much movement out of them. However, I’ve spoken to others and they’ll just pop it right in! Another thing to note is that if you live in a more humid climate, I recommend purchasing in smaller quantities rather than stocking up. They can get chewy in a humid climate after a while even if they are properly stored in an airtight jar.
Tablets are also the best option in a multi person household. Jars and powders are great, but you do need a separate container per an individual as it requires dipping a toothbrush in. These are still great options, and typically less costly.
Fluoride Free Tablet Option
A toothbrush should be changed out every 3 months. There are 328.2 million people in the United States, so if everyone was following this dentist recommended standard, the United States alone would be discarding over a billion plastic toothbrushes a year. Bamboo toothbrushes are a great alternative, because they are biodegradable (not the bristles).
Typical dental floss is made from nylon aka plastic, so not the best option for daily use. There are low waste, biodegradable options. These work just the same as dental floss, without all the negative environmental impact.
All of these switches can be a bit overwhelming, so I highly suggest slowly transitioning into each one. If you’re not ready to make a certain change, well, you’re in luck, because there are recycling programs that will accept toothpaste tubes and toothbrushes. It does require an extra step of mailing the materials, but it’s a great option if you’re just wanting to dip your toes into the low waste world.