Brushing your teeth twice a day is the first step in a good oral hygiene routine. If you’re already doing that, kudos to you! With all that brushing, you probably go through quite a few tubes of toothpaste each year. In 2018 over 146 million tons of waste landed in U.S. landfills, and plastics made up over 18% of that waste. Plastics like, you guessed it, toothpaste tubes.
Obviously not brushing your teeth is not the answer to this problem. So, what options do eco-conscious shoppers have? Enter, zero waste toothpaste (sometimes called chewpaste). Regular toothpaste is goopy—it sticks to the inside of the plastic tube, making it hard to use up and recycle.
But, zero waste toothpaste is a different formula. It’s made into tablets that look like mints, which work to clean your mouth like regular toothpaste. This zero-waste option is environmentally friendly because the tablets are packaged in glass jars or compostable packets. This makes it easy to use the entire product and the packaging is recyclable.
If you want to make the switch from regular toothpaste to zero waste toothpaste, you’ll notice there are a lot of brands on the market. It can be overwhelming. In this Consumer Checkup, we break down the pros and cons of this zero-waste formula and provide tips to make sure you’re getting the best product for your oral health.
Pro: Eco-Friendly Packaging
Zero-waste toothpaste packaging is often recyclable and reusable. For example, if the toothpaste tablets come in a glass jar, that glass can be repurposed many times over. It can store jewelry, art supplies, or even other oral health care products like floss or floss picks.
Many zero-waste toothpaste brands are not sold in pharmacies or grocery stores. This makes them harder to find and less convenient. While zero-waste toothpaste is becoming more popular, you might have to shop online to find it.
Pro: Travel Friendly
If you’ve ever opened your luggage to discover a plastic tube exploded all over your clothing during travel—then this will make you smile. Zero-waste tablets are small, easy to pack away, there is no limit to how many you can bring on a flight, and they’ll never explode in your suitcase.
Con: Lack of Fluoride
This is a big one. The American Dental Association only approves toothpastes that contain fluoride. That’s because fluoride builds up tooth enamel and helps prevent tooth decay and cavities. Many zero-waste toothpastes do not contain this essential mineral, so they’re less effective at stopping cavities than regular toothpaste.
Many zero-waste toothpastes are made with natural ingredients and are often certified vegan. If this labeling is important to you, it is easy to find a cruelty-free brand.
On average, a tube of regular toothpaste costs between $1 to $5, depending on the brand and quantity. Zero-waste tablets can cost a lot more. They usually start at $10 and go up from there.
Making the switch to sustainable toothpaste
It’s fun to explore the latest self-care trends to find products that fit your lifestyle. Zero-waste toothpaste is portable and eco-friendly, both great features—but the most important factor to consider is this: How good is it at removing plaque and keeping your smile healthy.
As a consumer, watch for zero-waste toothpastes that have cavity-fighting fluoride and always talk with your dentist about any changes in your oral hygiene routine.
Looking to learn about other oral health products? Check out these blog posts:
- Two Alternatives to Traditional Dental Floss
- Are Electric Toothbrushes Better?
- Do Dental Probiotics Really Keep Your Mouth Healthy?