May 28, 2019

Imagine my horror when I found out, through this podcast called 99% Invisible, that toothpaste tubes are not recyclable. For starters, the tubes are made of a combination of made of plastic, paperboard, aluminum, or other metal making it virtually unfit for materials recovery facilities. To add to that, the residue from leftover, unsqueezed toothpaste contaminates it.

Through a friend who has wholly shifted to a zero-waste (or at least plastic-free) life, I discovered that there are kinds of toothpaste that come in reusable jars sold in specialty shops catering to eco-conscious consumers.

But that is only a part of the plastic problem contributed by our oral hygiene. The biggest of which is the impact of toothbrushes. Dentists recommend changing your toothbrush every three months, for a total of roughly four a year (if you are following this). Multiply that to the world’s brushing population and you will get a horrific image of just how much toothbrushes are left to decompose for four centuries.


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🦷 Did you know 1 billion toothbrushes are thrown away in the US each year? And most of these are plastic. They have to go somewhere – and it’s usually landfill. One of my favourite #zerowaste swaps is my bamboo toothbrush. It lasts just as long as a plastic toothbrush and can be composted once it needs replaced. Be careful though – most of the bristles are not compostable and these need to be removed before it goes in the compost bin 🌿⁣ ⁣ For a while I used toothpaste tabs to accompany my #plasticfree toothbrush. I actually liked them (I know many people don’t), and they were perfect for travelling. I can get them at my local zero waste store and I know lush sells them. In the end, I switched back to toothpaste but only because I can get B12 toothpaste here in Germany, which saves me having to order B12 supplements online (which will inevitably involve some plastic) 🚰 ⁣ I also make my own mouthwash and love it. The ingredients are: distilled water, vodka, peppermint essential oil and baking soda. It tastes exactly like store bought mouthwash! ⁣🙌🏼 ⁣ Have you tried toothpaste tabs? What other zero waste items do you use for dental care? #yayforearth #lowimpactmovement

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Another contributor to this issue is the fact that for healthy teeth and gums, part of your oral routine should include gargling with a mouthwash which—if you think about it—comes in a plastic bottle with a thick cap, not to mention packaging. And while unlike water bottles, you don’t dispose of these immediately (a 500 ml bottle usually lasts for a month in our household of three), its impact is still non-negligible.

Luckily, if you’re looking to switch your commercially bought mouthwash for a packaging-free variant in a reusable bottle, you don’t need to run to your go-to zero-waste store, as you can easily make it at home.


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A post shared by Fiona (@liveconscious_) on

The Instagram account @liveconscious_ shared her homemade mouth wash recipe which you can replicate with simple ingredients. Fiona, the Scottish blogger and environmentalist behind the account, advocates for a conscious way of living by switching to eco-friendly alternatives to everyday consumer products.

“Homemade mouthwash is one of my favorite #zerowaste swaps,” she says on a post. “It’s so easy and effective—it tastes exactly like store-bought mouthwash and performs just as well.”

In a reusable glass bottle, mix the following ingredients:

  • 400 ml distilled water⁣
  • 2 tbsp baking soda⁣
  • 2 drops tea tree essential oil⁣
  • 4 drops peppermint essential oil ⁣
  • dash of vodka (optional)

A few of her followers on Instagram asked how long will this concoction last. Fiona says it should last “a while” considering none of its ingredients are perishable. Also, by the time it goes bad (if it will ever go bad, that is), you will have emptied this 400 ml solution, if you use it every day.

Apart from hygiene products, she also has easy-to-follow recipes for oat milk and even moisturizer, which you can check out on her story highlights.


Header image courtesy of @livingconscious_ on Instagram

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TAGS: eco-friendly alternatives homemade mouthwash plastic-free zero-waste