Brushing my teeth plastic-free: how I prepared for it
Once I had decided that I wanted to focus on brushing my teeth plastic-free, the first place I went was, of course, Lush. This shop was often at the top of my list at the beginning of my quest for a more sustainable life. So I went there to look for toothpaste as well.
They have a wide range of toothpaste tablets for anyone who wants to brush their teeth plastic-free. These small tablets are packed in a plastic box. Like all plastic jars, you can bring them back here after use.
In spite of this, the plastic jars continued to bother me. I must also say that even after a year, I still wasn’t a fan of the tablets, despite the many different flavours I tried. So you can’t say I didn’t give it a chance!
Solid toothpaste on a wooden stick Lamazuna is the next option I tested. You just put this lollipop-like toothpaste next to your toothbrush. When you want to brush your teeth, just wet your toothbrush, rub the toothpaste and brush your teeth. It is that simple! I never had a really clean feeling with it so I didn’t test it long enough to share with you my long-term experiences.
I went in search of an alternative that suited me better. That’s how I ended up at Ohne, a packaging-free shop that had two branches in my city, Ghent. Here they sold liquid toothpaste in a glass jar! The handy thing about these jars is that there is a pump on top which you just have to push once and a perfect amount of toothpaste comes out. The biggest disadvantage is that this pump is made of plastic. In Ohne, you are allowed to bring in your empty packaging, but again, this was not completely plastic-free toothbrushing. So, even though I was a huge fan of this toothpaste structure and flavour, I continued my search.
I ended up with Ben&Anna, the toothpaste that I still use to this day. This liquid toothpaste comes in a glass jar with a metal lid. These materials are 100% recyclable when properly disposed of. The jar comes with a small bamboo stick to scoop up the toothpaste and spread it on your toothbrush. You just need to make sure you wash the stick after each use to keep it hygienic. Especially when you share it with other people!
So far I have not found a toothpaste I am more satisfied with than Ben&Anna. I’m always open to trying new kinds that I don’t know about yet!
Besides toothpaste, you also need a toothbrush! Fortunately, there are fewer choices in this area, I thought when I started looking. Not so. As good as all plastic-free toothbrushes are from bamboo made, the real choice is in the bristles themselves! The most common bristles are made of nylon, jute, sisal or hog’s hair. Among these options, nylon is the only one that is not actually fully biodegradable. Sisal and jute are compostable, but the bristles are too soft to have a good mechanical cleaning of your teeth.
The perfect combination between mechanical cleaning and biodegradability is hog’s hair. If it did not come from an animal, I would not hesitate. As I do not feel comfortable buying these animal bristles and I would like to have clean teeth, I opted for nylon bristles. These nylon hairs are not yet optimal if you want everything to be truly ecological. Nylon 4 would break down completely under perfect conditions. Unfortunately, the non-degradable nylon 6 is mainly used ‘secretly’, but that is another discussion. It is best to break off the front part of your toothbrush when recycling it. The bamboo can go in the compost heap but the nylon should go in the regular rubbish bin.
After this search, my bathroom is a bit more ecological again and if I may be honest, it is also much nicer than all that plastic!