Toothpaste tubes are hard to recycle, which is why we can’t put them in the recycling bin. However, they’re not impossible to recycle (and I’ll be going over the TerraCycle program later in the post).
Still, the best option in order to minimize waste is to look for a toothpaste with minimal packaging, made of a material that’s easy to recycle such as glass or metal.
If you’re a fan of “natural” toothpastes, you’re in luck. All the zero waste options on the market fit this criteria, and I’ve gathered the best 3 below.
Personally, I’m not a fan of these “natural” toothpastes, the main reason being that they typically don’t contain fluoride. If you’re like me, don’t worry: you can still find an option with fluoride while minimizing waste. I’ll go over the options.
Davids Natural Toothpaste
|Palm oil free?||Yes|
|Certifications||Leaping Bunny, FSC certified paperboard packaging|
This is the best option I’ve found and used before, because it comes in a tube (most zero waste options come in a glass jar). It’s easy to use, it has good ingredients, and the company values sustainability.
I love the retro-inspired tube and the pretty packaging. Most toothpastes aren’t items we’re proud to display and look at, but this one is aesthetically-pleasing.
My gripe with it? It lacks fluoride. But this is a personal choice. If you’re not a fan of fluoride and you’re looking for a sustainable zero waste toothpaste and you’re not on a budget, I recommend this one. It’s thoughtfully and consciously made, cruelty-free, and vegan.
It comes in a fully recyclable metal tube, and includes a key to squeeze as much toothpaste out as possible. The cap however is made of plastic, but the outer paperboard packaging is made using wind renewable energy. Davids toothpaste is made in the USA with 98% of natural ingredients sourced from the USA.
It comes in 4 different flavors:
- Peppermind Charcoal (extra whitening)
- Herbal Citrus Peppermint (pink packaging)
Ingredients: calcium carbonate (limestone abrasive), vegetable glycerin, purified water, sodium bicarbonate (baking soda), xylitol (birch derived), hydrated silica, sodium cocoyl glutamate, carrageenan (seaweed derived), mentha piperita (peppermint oil), mentha viridis (spearmint) leaf oil, pimpinella anisum (anise) seed extract, gaultheria procumbens (wintergreen) leaf oil, stevia (leaf extract).
Uncle Harry’s Toothpaste
|Palm oil free?||Yes|
|Certifications||None (some other products are certified organic)|
Based on the ingredients, this toothpaste which comes in a glass jar seems closer to a DIY recipe than to a conventional toothpaste. Bentonite clay, mustard seeds, and oregano? But it has a lot of fans and rave reviews, so I included it for those who seek a more natural zero waste toothpaste.
It’s free of fluoride, SLS, and carragenan, but note that bentonite clay may contain trace amounts of lead. This is why their jars must now come with a California Prop 65 warning.
Ingredients: Bentonite clay, calcium carbonate, colloidal silver water, sea salt, ionic minerals, mustard seed, essential oils of peppermint, eucalyptus, clove, wintergreen, and oregano.
Georganics Natural Toothpaste
|Palm oil free?||Yes|
None (Organic Ingredient Claims)
This is another popular zero waste option since it comes in a glass jar, and unlike other options, it’s an actual paste rather than a powder or tablets. Georganics is made in the UK using mainly local ingredients. They also manufacture their products in small batches using ethically-sourced and organic ingredients when possible.
Their toothpaste is high in minerals and aims to “cleanse and remineralize teeth naturally”. This brand is mostly focused on providing products that are safe and non-toxic, but they also have sustainability in mind, for example with their Zero To Landfill programme.
The main ingredient is calcium, which is a commonly-used ingredient even in traditional toothpaste.
Ingredients: Calcium Carbonate, Caprylic & Capric Triglyceride*, Kaolin, Cocos Nucifera Oil*, Butyrospermum Parkii Butter*, Diatomaceous Earth*, Sodium Bicarbonate, Mentha Spicata Herb Oil*, Tocopherol, Limonene*. *Organic.
The Problem With Zero Waste Toothpaste
The toothpaste options above are the best I could find on the market. As you can tell, none of them contain fluoride, and all of them are “natural” and “made without toxic chemicals”.
This is a problem that needs to be addressed. Personally, although I enjoy using some products that are labeled “natural” or “clean”, there’s a clear line I draw. When it comes to oral health, there’s a lot of potential damage we can do by using products that are “natural” yet inefficient.
Fluoride: Unsafe To Drink, Safe To Use Topically
While you might not want to ingest fluoride, this chemical is safe when used topically (i.e. in toothpaste and on your teeth). The amount of fluoride swallowed when brushing your teeth is so small, and for me, the pros of fluoride vastly outweigh the cons.
Fluoride does help protect your teeth against cavities, and I learned this the hard way when I switched to a fluoride-free toothpaste.
“A toothpaste that contains fluoride is the only proven way to prevent cavities. Fluoride strengthens the enamel of the tooth by helping to rebuild enamel that has been attacked by acid, reversing signs of early tooth decay.”Healthline
Natural Ingredients In Toothpaste: Are They Effective?
First of all, fluoride is a naturally occurring mineral and is therefore “natural”. However when I’m talking about “natural ingrdients” in toothpaste, I’m refering to those that are widely considered to be safe and non-toxic alternatives, such as coconut oil, clay, or baking soda.
No other natural ingredient has been proven to be effective against cavities. Not coconut oil, not sea salt, and not mustard seeds. These natural ingredients may have their own benefits, but the reality is this: if you ditch fluoride toothpaste, you increase your odds or getting cavities.
So What’s The Solution?
If, like me, you’re unhappy with the zero waste options above, there are other options.
Option 1: Using A Conventional Toothpaste and TerraCycling It
Toothpaste packaging is not usually recycled because it’s hard and intensive to do so. However, there’s a recycling program called TerraCycle which takes care of this harder-to-recycle waste.
While I don’t recommend buying toothpaste from a brand such as Colgate, Aquafresh, or the other industry giants, there are some better companies out there that make fluoride toothpaste.
You can recycle your toothpaste packaging with TerraCycle via Colagate. They take any toothpaste tubes and not only Colgate brands. The process is fairly simple: you sign up, collect the packaging, and ship it to them for free.
My favorite toothpaste is from a brand called Hello, which is cruelty-free and Leaping Bunny certified. You can find this brand at Target, Walmart, Ulta, Amazon, Ulta, or Thrive Market among others.
They make the only toothpaste I’ve found that’s SLS-free but contains fluoride, and this specific one is marketed for sensitive teeth (it also contains potassium nitrate).
There’s also Tom’s of Maine, which is easy to find in most drugstores, that makes a fluoride toothpaste. Burt’s Bees is another option for fluoride toothpaste, plus they have their own TerraCycle program.
You can also alternate between using a conventional toothpaste and a zero waste one, to cut down waste by half.
Options 2: Using Toothpaste Tabs With Fluoride
Using toothpaste tabs is a fantastic zero waste alternative, because tabs can either be packaging-free (from Lush for example) or come in minimal paper packaging (most options found in stores or online do).
The big downside: most of us can’t be bothered to use tablets in lieu of toothpaste. It’s weird. It’s mildly inconvenient. That’s why it didn’t last long when I switched to deodorant that comes in a glass jar: it’s only mildly inconvenient, but it feels so much more efficient to use a stick and quickly swipe it on.
I’m all for being practical and I know that most of us won’t make the switch to toothpaste tabs, which is why I’m listing it as the second option. Using tags is better for the environment, but it might not be the most realistic option for all of us.
If you do want to use tabs, you can find several options with fluoride. An example that’s available worldwide is the Naked Company’s Dental Crush tablets with fluoride, which plants a tree for every purchase.
|Palm oil free?||Yes|
|Certifications||None (Tree planted for every purchase)|
Option 3: Getting Fluoride Treatments From The Dentist
If you don’t want to recycle your conventional packaging and don’t want to use toothpaste tabs, your only zero waste option at this moment is one without fluoride. If you want to use fluoride to protect your teeth, one solution is to regular treatments at your dentist’s office, or to purchase the treatments yourself.
Option 4: Emailing Zero Waste Brands To Suggest A Fluoride Option
Another thing I suggest doing is emailing your favorite zero waste toothpaste brands and letting them know that you’re looking for an option with fluoride. If there’s enough interest, they might be able to offer one.
This isn’t a solution in itself, but it’s a good step to take.
To Sum It Up
I hope you were able to find a solution that works for you, whether you’re looking for a zero waste toothpaste without fluoride or with. While I personally want fluoride in my toothpaste, I understand that not everybody agrees, and I’m happy to share options for everyone.
What do you think? Do you use fluoride or not? You can share your opinion in the comments.