Zero Waste dental floss is not completely innocent. But flossing is important and not a dental hygiene step I’d recommend skipping.
I never gave the sustainability of dental floss a second thought. Until around a year ago when my rabbit stole a piece of floss out of the waste bin. He ran off with it and in the run ate a big piece of floss (or so we think) that almost killed him. He was at the Vets for two days. I’m convinced it affected his gut in some way as he sadly died from a gut problem a few weeks ago. He was only two years old.
For a rabbit, the floss smells like mint and appear completely edible, but it’s extremely harmful to animals. We’ve since bought a bathroom bin with a lid on to make sure that the rabbits can’t get to it, but wild animals don’t have the same luxury.
If dental floss ends up in the environment, aminals won’t know the difference as they can be misled by the minty smell. But flossing remains important and should be used alongside your favourite zero waste toothpaste as you only get one set of adult teeth.
Zero Waste Floss – What Types of Floss do you Get?
I wouldn’t say that the zero-waste options are 100% safe for animals, but it’s at least it’s a step closer to protecting our furry friends.
Generally, dental floss is made of nylon coated in wax, or if you’re using dental tape as I did, it’s made of Teflon.
When it comes to zero waste floss you have a few options:
- Regular nylon floss coated in wax but packaged in zero-waste packaging
- An electric water floss – this is made of plastic but does not generate waste every time it’s used
- Vegan floss, often made from materials such as corn starch or bamboo fibres. Some of the vegan options come in some form of plastic packaging but it’s cruelty-free otherwise
- Vegan Zero Waste Floss picks made of cornstarch. Be careful here as most of the products we researched contain an amount of plastic in the floss part. Some consisting of nylon and others of polyester. These products were also listed as biodegradable – but polyester and nylon will break down into microplastics as it’s a type of plastic. At the time of writing this article, I couldn’t find a product that’s 100% plastic-free. If you know of one, please list in the comments
- Compostable plastic and nylon free floss that is made of silk. Unfortunately, they boil the silkworms alive to harvest the silk – not exactly cruelty-free!
Reusable Flosser – Zero Waste Water Floss, or Is It?
Water floss or an oral irrigator is a good alternative for floss and use a small pressurised stream of water between your teeth. It might actually be easier to use than normal floss and dentists do approve water flossing. Most water flossers are electric and will need to be charged or plugged in to work. Some come with a reservoir, but you also get a more streamlined cordless option.
The downside of reusable flossers is that you’ll have to dispose of the device once it breaks in a responsible way. Waterpik also recommends replacing the heads every 3-6 months. However, if you clean the heads regularly it won’t deteriorate in the same way as a toothbrush head so you should be able to use them for much longer. Just soak the tip in a bit of vinegar every 3 months or so.
Remember to de-scale your reusable flosser regularly, especially if you live in a hard water area.
This flosser has a water reservoir, it’s a bit bulky so you’ll need the surface space to house it. It doesn’t have a battery, you’ll need to plug it in while using. It comes with 7 flosser tips, 10 pressure settings and a 650ml water reservoir which gives you more than 90+ seconds of flossing time.
You can get it on Amazon here.
Enjoy the convenience of a cordless water flosser to use in the shower or on the go. This option has 3 pressure settings that range from 45 to 75 PSI.
It connects magnetically to its charger, which takes around four hours for a full charge. Waterpik products generally come with a two-year warranty.
You can get it on Amazon here.
Vegan Zero Waste Floss
If you’re not convinced by the water flossers mentioned there are a few good options when it comes to Vegan Zero Waste Floss. Which is great for animal welfare as no silkworms are boiled alive in the process of making these!
ME Mother Earth Vegan Floss
Ingredients: Bamboo Charcoal Fiber, Vegan Candelilla Wax, and Peppermint Essential Oil
Container: Refillable bamboo
A guilt-free Biodegradable and vegan floss made of Bamboo Charcoal.
ME Mother Earth was started by husband and wife team local to Las Vegas. They are so confident in their product that they will give you a full refund if you’re not completely happy with the product!
Vaireo Activated Charcoal Bamboo Floss
Ingredients: Bamboo Charcoal Fibre (other ingredients unknown.
Vaireo is based in North Carolina in the USA. They specialise in Bamboo-based products and activated charcoal.
This floss is coated in wax and 100% Biodegradable as it’s made from Bamboo Charcoal Fibres. It should break down within around 60-90 days. All their packaging is recyclable.
TreeBird Bamboo Charcoal Floss
Ingredients: Bamboo fibre, activated charcoal, biodegradable polyester, natural Candelila wax, Mint essential oil
Started in 2018, TreeBird is a based out of Nother Europe. Their floss is labelled as biodegradable but contains polyester which is generally a plastic-based product. Biodegradable polyester is definitely better for the environment than nylon and less cruel than silk. Also, note that even though the outer packaging is compostable the floss is not.
Plastic Free Floss Picks
If you’re interested in floss picks here are a few options to consider:
Knotty Floss Bamboo Floss Picks
Ingredients: Bamboo fibre, biodegradable charcoal polyester, grapefruit seed extract, corn starch
Packaging: Plastic-free paper box with a clear window made of some type of vegetable, not plastic
Knotty Floss was started by practising dental hygienist Elizabeth Martens from Southern California. Even though this product is almost all-natural it does contain biodegradable polyester within the floss section so is not compostable as far as we’re aware.
The Humble Co. Natural Dental Floss Picks
Ingredients: Polyethylene floss, corn starch,
Packaging: Eco-friendly paper
Founded by Swedish dentist Noel Abdayem in 2013 The Humble Co. is characterised by their humble values. The floss is made from Polyethylene and the handle from Polypropylene and cornstarch so not exactly plastic-free. These are definitely less problematic for the environment than their traditional counterparts, but not entirely squeaky clean on the plastic-free front.
Closing Thoughts on Zero Waste Floss
Floss is absolutely essential so can’t be skipped, we only get one set of adult teeth and you need to look after them, for sure.
When it comes to dental floss, eco-friendly options do still feel like the lesser of two evils to me. However, eco-friendly floss is improving and options are increasing so things are slowly taking a turn for the better.
Even if you are using a more eco-friendly manual floss like some of the options outlined above, I’d still recommend cutting it up in smaller bits before discarding it.
Biodegrading will take a long time, and it can cause damage in an animal’s gut while it decomposes. This means that if it ends up in the environment it won’t get tangled in an animals gut. It will hopefully pass through without much hassle (if we’re lucky).
Seeing animals suffer from the products we deem essential is heartbreaking, so take every measure possible to avoid causing them pain if you can.
If you do choose to use a reusable flosser like the water floss options mentioned, buy the best quality one you can find. That way it will last longer, inevitably reducing its environmental impact long term.
We have deliberately not listed any of the silk floss options as they are very cruel. Even the cruelty-free peace silk might not be as it seems. You can read more about peace silk here.
Feel free to suggest any other amazing zero waste floss products we should be aware of in the comments below.
In loving memory of our beautiful boy, Milo. Please floss responsibly – see his handsome face below.