What is a zero waste toothpaste and where do you find a good one? Here’s our list of the types of zero waste toothpaste that you can buy in 2022. Going zero waste is a great feeling – no more plastic packaging to throw away – but some everyday items are more difficult to replace than others and toothpaste is one of them.
Zero waste toothpaste options are a bit different
Zero waste toothpaste options are a bit different than our norm. When someone says toothpaste, do you automatically think of a white plastic tube that is sitting on your basin or in your bathroom cabinet right now?
Toothpaste brands have developed an instantly recognizable product. Even when you are traveling, toothpaste is easy to recognize on the shelves of a supermarket or shop somewhere foreign.
The trouble is that plastic packaging is damaging our environment, both land and ocean. Microplastics are turning up everywhere and one the biggest contributions to plastic waste is healthy and beauty products.
Think about it. Daily we use shampoo, conditioner, shaving foam, cleanser, moisturizer, toothpaste, hand soap, shower gel and more. Most of these are packaged in plastic. Globally, we discard 1.5 billion toothpaste tubes into landfill. Enough to fill 50 Empire State Buildings (Forbes).
So what is the solution? There is no denying that toothpaste in a plastic tube so that you can squeeze a small bit of paste onto your toothbrush is convenient. What are the alternatives?
Zero waste toothpaste types
Zero waste toothpaste comes in a variety of types from tablets and solids to environmentally packaged pastes and powders. Tablets and toothpaste in recyclable tubes are more convenient than a solid bar of toothpaste or powders.
If pastes are packaged in a jar, it can be tricky to measure out the right amount but not unachievable. Use a small spoon to scoop out and then brush your bristles into that if you are not so sure about dipping your toothbrush repeatedly into the jar. As it happens we haven’t included any pastes in a jar due to concerns about the ingredient list.
What makes a zero waste toothpaste? Zero waste is about reducing toxic chemicals that leach into our environments, eliminating as much packaging as possible and using packaging that is renewable and recyclable – like glass.
We were looking for a zero waste toothpaste that fulfilled three main criteria;
- zero waste packaging that was recyclable,
- an ingredients list that had no obvious raw materials that we knew were toxic and
- ingredients that were not harmful to the environment.
That’s actually quite a big ask.
David’s premium toothpastes are supplied in a recyclable metal tube. They are made of natural ingredients and are fluoride free, dye free and microbeads free. 98% of the ingredients are of US origin and there is no SLS or artificial sweeteners, flavors and colors.
Tom’s of Maine sells a fluoride free toothpaste in a recyclable plastic tube developed in 2019. Unfortunately it includes Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) derived from palm kernel or coconut oil. It is safe to use, but harmful to aquatic life. On the plus side, the toothpaste is fluoride free and no artificial flavors or colors are used. One of the first of its kind, the #2 HPDE plastic tubes can be recycled in the US.
I’ve excluded a couple of toothpastes that have colloidal silver in them, simply because I am not convinced of the safety of ingesting even tiny amounts of silver.
Georganics in the UK make a toothpaste powder that is fluoride and SLS free. It is sold in a glass jar with an aluminum lid and the label is printed with vegan inks. It’s organic and they are a B-corp.
Parla Toothpaste Tablets are supplied in an eco-friendly glass jar with an aluminum top. If you order refills every four months, they are supplied in a compostable bag and you can refill your jar. The tablets are vegan and contain no artificial colors or sweeteners and so SLS. They do contain fluoride at 1450 ppm.
Hello makes a similar product, made in the US. Hello Toothpaste Tablets are supplied in a tin, which is great for travel or transportation. The tin can be recycled or reused and refilled with packets of tablets made from wood that are compostable. The tablets contain no artificial sweeteners and flavors, no fluoride, no peroxide and no sulfates. They are gluten free too if that is an issue for you. Hello make watermelon and activated charcoal versions too.
SuperBee’s Dentos tablets are organic, vegan, talc- sugar- palm oil- and fluoride-free. They use coco-glucoside as the foaming agent and users report that the tablets foam just like normal toothpaste. The tablets are sold in a recyclable tin and refills in cardboard packaging are also available. SuperBee is based in Thailand.
How to use toothpaste tablets
Toothpaste tablets are used in a very similar way to toothpaste. Chew the tablets, wet your toothbrush, then brush your teeth as normal. Spit out the remainder and don’t rinse. Tablets are ideal as the ‘toothpaste’ quantity is pre-measured.
Should you eliminate fluoride? Not according to Dr. David Okano, a periodontist & assistant professor at the University of Utah School of Dentistry, who says that fluoride prevents cavities and can remineralize a demineralized area on the tooth before it becomes a cavity.
Toothpastes of all types can contain whiteners and abrasives and these should be used with caution if you have sensitive teeth. In fact, most of us use too much toothpaste. The ideal is a rice-sized or pea-sized amount.
Dr. Okano also says that flossing and brushing can clean teeth, without any need of toothpaste at all. The action of brushing is more important than the toothpaste. But there are benefits in using fluoride to reduce and prevent cavities.
Zero waste toothpaste tips
Hope these zero waste toothpaste tips have been useful. We’ve covered a number of products here and chosen the ones we would put in our own mouths. The key point to remember is that zero waste toothpaste does not mean non-toxic toothpaste or eco-friendly toothpaste. We have been trying to find all three, as it means a lot to us to be sustainable. We also care about the safety of our families. We’re doing our bit to try and reduce our household waste and choose products that have reusable or recyclable packaging.