Let's Talk Trash: Dental floss alternatives

When was the last time you flossed your pearly whites? If you haven’t started this good habit yet, read on, so you can start two healthy habits at once.

As we move toward a zero-waste lifestyle, re-evaluating our personal hygiene products is at the top of the “at home” list. Nowadays it’s becoming easier to find earth-friendly, reusable metal razors, shampoo bar-soap, and locally made unpackaged bath soap.

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But what about dental floss? Do our teeth have a footprint?

Plastic is so ubiquitous these days that we may not even pause to consider the packaging our bathroom grooming products come in. Once you notice, it’s hard to ignore, and if you’re in for a zero-waste dental care upgrade, add plastic-free dental floss to your list.

The packaging your floss comes in is often made of plastic, but did you know that floss itself is also usually made of synthetic fibres such as waxed nylon or teflon? It “only” takes 50 to 80 years to break down, unlike other more robust forms of plastic. But there is no getting around the fact that it merely appears to break down and simply becomes smaller pieces of itself that pollute our oceans and soil, or get interned in our landfills.

In this age of convenience, some of the most ridiculous single-use plastic products are coming on scene, not the least of which is the dental floss “wand.” Incidentally, these wands are not recyclable in Powell River, as they are considered a product rather than packaging.

These wands, used for 30 seconds or fewer, are becoming a permanent part of our landfills and beachfronts. We can do better, and fortunately, a few companies have thought outside the plastic box and offer options like metal, paper or glass.

So what are the alternatives to plastic-laden dental floss? Well, you may not be entirely excited about them, as they all have some drawbacks.

One is beeswaxed-coated silk floss, which is not for the vegans out there, as the silkworms are boiled during the process. If you’re okay with the plight of the worms, then Flosspot is a good choice as it is packaged in a small glass tube that looks a lot like a salt shaker.

Another option is to go with nylon, but look for plastic-free packaging. Whatever you choose, for the planet’s sake, drop the not-so-magic wand idea.

Boost your plastic-free dental kit with a bamboo toothbrush with natural (or synthetic) bristles, and opt for a toothpaste that comes in a glass or at least plastic jar. Squeeze tubes are not accepted in our local recycling program.

Still another option is to go true zero waste and go prehistoric. Floss with hair, yes, either your own, or horse hair! In a pinch, a natural fibre thread might do the job, if you’re patient.

Let’s Talk Trash is qathet Regional District’s waste-reduction education program.

 
Copyright © 2018 Powell River Peak

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