Is it possible to take care of our teeth without using conventional, store-bought, plastic floss? Can we still keep our gums and teeth healthy and still care for the planet? Does zero waste flossing exist? These are all questions I’ll answer in this post and spoiler alert, yes, we can still “save the earth” and floss. Flossing is important to maintain a healthy mouth. For most of us, it’s a crucial step to ensuring we don’t have to keep going back to the dentist for expensive procedures. The problem is, our flossing habits are not very sustainable. And with the amount we use, about 2.5 million miles of dental floss for Americans, it wouldn’t hurt to explore some zero waste floss options.
Most floss is made of either nylon or Teflon, which are both synthetically made. These substances get melted and extracted into long filaments that then get spun, packaged, and sent to store shelves. The problem is, synthetically made chemicals such as these are not very sustainable. They are plastic which is derived from extracted crude oil which is a nonrenewable resource that we are turning into fibers to remove day old broccoli from our teeth. Plastic also does not break down quickly at all. Most will be around for longer than we will be alive and most will end up photodegrading instead of truly decomposing. Photodegrading means that over time, the sun will cause the plastic to break into tinier and tinier pieces.
I have to admit, I’m the world’s worst flosser. My dentist reminds me every time I see her. I know she kids but there is a sliver of truth in every joke, right? Luckily, there are many options to properly floss our teeth without contributing to our overall plastic waste issue.
4 Ways to Floss Zero Waste
Plastic Free Floss
There are plastic free floss options available that even come in sustainable packaging. Brands like Dental Lace package their compostable floss in recyclable glass viles and metal lids. This brand even makes their floss containers refillable instead of requiring consumers to purchase new packaging every time.
I got very familiar with a water flosser when I decided to get braces at the ripe old age of 27. That was an adventure. Braces make it extremely difficult to floss normally. Because of that, options to do so included crazy threading like floss contraptions and the water flosser which is just a device that sprays water in a small tight stream in between your teeth. It’s very effective.
Have an old cotton or silk shirt that you no longer need? Unravel the threads and use them to floss your teeth. Once you’ve used the thread to its entirety, toss it into the compost.
Hair? Yes, ancient people would use horse hair to floss their teeth. The hair is rather coarse and very strong making it a perfect substitute for plastic dental floss. I grew up around horses my whole life so borrowing a strand to clean my teeth was something I’d do occasionally.
There are several ways to incorporate a zero waste flossing routine into your life. Just do a little research on each option and pick what is best for you. After all, it’s not about being perfect just about reducing when we can.
For more Zero Waste Bathroom information, check out my post: 10 Zero Waste Bathroom Swaps