Some of the easiest zero-waste swaps can be found in your bathroom. There are so many amazing zero-waste and low-waste options for hair products, face washes, and toothpaste. But while these products are starting to become more abundant, there are some considerations we have to take into place before we buy them. There are many benefits to buying zero-waste toothpaste, but there are also some areas for improvement within the ever-growing industry. Here are some pros and cons that everyone should think about before buying zero-waste toothpaste.
Pro: Environmentally Friendly Packaging
Conventional toothpaste tubes cannot be recycled because of the goopy material inside of them. Because of this, over one billion plastic toothpaste tubes end up in U.S. landfills every year.
Zero-waste toothpaste reduces the amount of packaging necessary ultimately resulting in lower carbon emissions due to less processing and less waste ending up in landfills. Most of them have packaging that can be recycled, or even better, reused. David’s Toothpaste uses recyclable aluminum that can be cut and rinsed of the goop that would otherwise cause it not to be recyclable. Bite’s Tooth Tablets come in glass bottles which are also infinitely recyclable or reusable.
Zero waste toothpaste helps keep plastic waste out of our landfills, allows for less pollution in our oceans, and lowers our carbon footprint. Recyclable packaging beats plastic toothpaste tubes any day!
Until recently, it has been incredibly difficult to find zero-waste toothpaste in any pharmacy or grocery store. Although some brands have recently started to be sold in Target, zero-waste toothpaste is not sold as widely as conventional toothpaste is. If you live in a rural area or do not have a store that carries a zero-waste toothpaste nearby, your options may be limited. Many other zero-waste toothpaste brands can be purchased online, but the carbon footprint and monetary cost of shipping can be deterrents.
Hopefully, this will change as zero waste toothpaste becomes more popular. It is already a great step forward that large chains like Target are carrying them and I hope to see more in the future.
Pro: Natural Ingredients
Another added benefit of buying zero waste toothpaste is that many of them are made with natural ingredients and will often be certified vegan. With toothpaste tablets specifically, there are much fewer chemicals needed to preserve them.
However, many natural toothpaste brands are not approved by dental associations, usually because they also lack a very important ingredient in toothpaste–fluoride.
Con: Lack of Flouride
Most dentists and the American Dental Association only approve the use of toothpaste that contains fluoride. This is because the toothpaste itself does not remove plaque and prevent cavities– fluoride does. Most scientists and experts note that fluoride is the one vital ingredient that all toothpaste should contain, yet most zero-waste toothpaste does not.
This is likely because there are some people who are concerned about toxicity in fluoride. However, there needs to be a large amount of fluoride for this to happen and most toothpaste only contains a low dose.
In the FAQ section of David’s Toothpaste (a brand that does not contain fluoride) website, they write that “The FDA does not allow any natural toothpaste without fluoride to make claims related to preventing or reducing cavities.” Many fluoride-free toothpastes are adding Nano-Hydroxyapatite and claim that it is a non-toxic fluoride alternative. The science on this is not quite as strong and conclusive as fluoride, however, and it is still not approved widely by dentists.
Pro: A More Travel-Friendly Alternative
Everyone who travels knows the struggle of having to buy travel-sized toothpaste tubes that fit TSA regulations. Luckily, this is not as much of a concern for people who have zero-waste toothpaste, specifically toothpaste tablets. These tablets are small and easy to carry anywhere, and there is no limit to how many you can take with you.
I personally love the way that you can count out the number of tablets that you will need for a trip and put them in an even smaller container. The ease of travel with zero-waste toothpaste tablets is definitely one of their best qualities.
With zero-waste toothpaste being relatively new to the toothpaste market, the cost for the same amount is often a little higher than conventional toothpaste tubes.
Plastic tubes of toothpaste are usually anywhere from $2 to $10 for special kinds. But zero-waste usually starts around $10 and can be priced even higher from there. You must decide if you think it is worth it and if you can afford to spend extra money on a zero-waste toothpaste.
Luckily, we can expect to see these higher prices fall as demand increases. So those who can afford to buy it should so that they can continue to demonstrate consumer interest. More sales will drive zero-waste toothpaste to be more accessible.
The Bottom Line
There are a lot of options for zero-waste toothpaste and when deciding which to buy, there are some questions that you should ask yourself.
Above all, the most important thing is that the toothpaste is effective. Make sure the toothpaste that you choose can protect both the planet and your teeth. Ask yourself or your dentist: does it reduce plaque and prevent cavities?
You should also make sure, regardless of what kind of toothpaste you buy, that the packaging is recyclable and that the overall carbon footprint of your purchase is better. If you decide that zero-waste toothpaste is right for you, I highly recommend making the switch!