My dad once told me that part of being a good husband is supporting your wife’s passions, no matter what. For Dad, this means providing opportunities for Mom to express her passion of violin performance. For me, this means forgoing the minty freshness of Colgate Total Advanced Toothpaste in favor of Zero Waste toothpaste.
What’s that mean? Well, I’ll get to that.
As I hope you can see, Lauren has been the one really taking the reigns with our new Zero Waste lifestyle, but her passion and excitement has very quickly spread to me. It is our hope that her posts will provide a fresh, exciting viewpoint of someone who is blazing a path of sustainability. My goal is to give the point of view of someone who, while still a willing participant, is along for the ride.
So. Here is my experience with one of our first steps towards a waste-free home: handmade, package-free, Zero Waste toothpaste!
I know; when making a huge lifestyle change to waste, toothpaste seems like too small of a difference to really count for much, but I think that lack of effort required to make this change happen is exactly what makes toothpaste a perfect place to start your Zero Waste Journey!
Most of us brush our teeth twice a day (or after every meal if you are actively lying to your dentist); so really, any unpleasantness is short-lived and quickly out of mind. Lauren and I used to go through a standard sized Colgate Total Advanced (for sensitive teeth) about every 20 days or so.
The way I figure, there are three ways to handle the toothpaste waste problem:
A) Use less toothpaste.
B) Use a Zero Waste toothpaste alternative.
C) Stop using toothpaste entirely.
Using less toothpaste is certainly an option for those who want to be more in control of their waste. Apparently, adults are only supposed use a pea sized dab of toothpaste. Pre-Zero Waste, Lauren and I certainly weren’t the best about our toothpaste moderation.
Note our awesome Cars and Tangled toothbrushes and my less than stellar toothpaste placement…My sister-in-law made it perfectly clear that my toothpaste game is not on point. While cutting down to an appropriate amount of toothpaste is certainly a great step to take, “Option B” is a much more sustainable alternative.
Pros: That sweet sugary goodness. Subscribing to the toothpaste brand that ‘9/10 doctors recommend’.
Cons: Creates waste. Costs $2.00 for 20 days of minty freshness. Costs $20.00 for 2 days of minty freshness (if you are terrible at haggling).
Still, even if you use less toothpaste, your only option when it’s empty is to throw it away. One tube of toothpaste every month or so and you can see how that adds up fast!
So, what do we use instead?
Lauren, in a passionate stupor, found a simple toothpaste recipe online, whipped it up, put it in a small glass mason jar, and gingerly placed it next to our sink. Rather than the 18-odd ingredients in the toothpaste that I’d grown used to, this new toothpaste is is comprised of three parts: coconut oil – an antibacterial and whitening agent, baking soda – a mild abrasive, and peppermint oil – to add flavor. Granted, that flavor might not be great (think getting face-slapped by a wave of lukewarm ocean water), the benefits are undeniable.
Many expensive toothpaste brands claim to whiten teeth. This is true. I really can’t deny that. However, baking soda does a remarkably amazing job of whitening your teeth as well, and I can pronounce it. All in all, this toothpaste isn’t as pleasant to taste as the name brand, but it still leaves my breath fresh and good as new, even without the heavy mint flavor.
As a quick, easy, low impact way to begin your Zero Waste journey, it can’t be beat!
Pros: Zero Waste! Your breath smells great! White teeth! Costs pennies compared to the name brand.
Cons: Doesn’t taste the best. You have to make it yourself.
And then there’s “Option C”…Real talk this option probably creates the least amount of waste (are dead teeth biodegradable?). This may warrant consideration however. Check out the pros and cons!
Pros: Lower long-term dental bills. Less money spent on dates.
Cons: Higher short-term dental bills. Liquid/soft foods are expensive.
For your consideration, I believe that Zero Waste toothpaste is the perfect place to start your adventure. Good luck out there, and may your breath ever smell fresh!
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