Every year millions of toothpaste tubes are sent to landfill as the squeezy tubes are difficult to recycle and aren’t generally picked up in curbside recycling schemes. Pump action toothpaste containers are slightly different as these are made from a different type of plastic so is usually easier to recycle.
Natural mouth care products can usually be found either as a toothpaste, zero waste toothpowder or zero waste toothpaste tablet. Most come in glass containers, but some are available in recyclable tubes.
Ingredients in Conventional Toothpaste to Avoid
Besides the plastic, toothpaste can contain all kinds of nasties that you would be better without. Rinse and spit is always the best option to minimise any issues caused by toothpaste ingredients, as some ingredients can cause gastronomical discomfort.
Toothpaste can contain artificial sweeteners and colourants. It can also contain sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) which many of us are trying to avoid in hair care products already and can cause inflammation, dry mouth, gum irritation and canker sores.
The safety of food-grade Carrageenan is widely debated with a 2018 study concluding that more research is needed. This ingredient has been linked to gastrointestinal inflammation, ulcers and even colon cancer in laboratory animals. While the scientists are arguing about the safety of carrageenan I’d personally steer clear of it just in case.
Propylene glycol, which is linked to damage of the central nervous system, liver and heart.
Triclosan has mostly been phased out luckily as it is linked to a decrease in thyroid hormones and an increase in antibiotic resistance, as well as tumours in mice.
Fluoride in Natural Toothpaste
Fluoride in toothpaste is a slightly controversial ingredient as it fights tooth decay in the right amount, but can be problematic if you get too much. Many countries add fluoride to their water supply and most conventional toothpaste contains fluoride which means there is a chance you can get too much in certain areas.
Zero waste toothpaste with fluoride can be beneficial in some cases, but it’s best to check with your dentist to see if you need an extra boost through your toothpaste or if you are ok to go without as tooth decay is not pleasant by any means. It is also a good idea to check with your local water supplier regarding the amount of fluoride added to your water. In the UK the decision to fluorinate is with the local authorities and vary from one area to the next so it’s best to check with your local authority directly. I for e.g. live in a non-fluorinated area so do tend to use fluorinated toothpaste for extra protection.
The only zero waste toothpaste with fluoride on our list is from hello below, you’d like to use a fluoride toothpaste.
When it comes to the ingredient list on your tube, toothpaste that contains fewer ingredients can be equally effective as it is the brushing action that cleans your teeth with a tad of scrubbing power added by the toothpaste. See further notes on some of the ingredients in zero waste mouth care products at the end of this article. Here is our list of earth-friendly and zero waste toothpaste brands for you to consider:
Redmond Earth Paste
If you are set on using a paste from a tube then Earth Paste could be just for you as the tube is recyclable and the ingredient list very lean. It’s available in peppermint, lemon, wintergreen and spearmint and generally contains less than 10 ingredients; Purified Water, Food Grade Redmond Clay®, non-GMO Xylitol, Essential Oil, Redmond Real Salt®.
Redmond Earth Paste is made by The Clay Cure Co. UK.
This brand is one of the most commonly recommended mouth care brands when it comes to the zero waste movement. They have been around for 25 years and are focused on creating natural and sustainable products. Their mouth hygiene products deliver a wide variety of options such as tooth suds (which is a soap), zero waste toothpowder and zero waste toothpaste in a jar. Their products are pH balanced which is great as the acidity can damage your enamel. Flavours include Spearmint, Anise, Cinnamon, Peppermint and Mild Mint.
Their toothpaste ingredients roughly include: Bentonite clay, calcium carbonate, colloidal silver water, sea salt, ionic minerals, mustard seed and essential oils. Their toothpaste is gluten-free, glycerin-free, fluoride-free, and vegan.
Uncle Harry’s also makes tooth whitening kits and mouthwash so they are definitely one to investigate.
Hello Toothpaste Tablets
Hello is a new kind of naturally friendly oral care, created using thoughtful ingredients so delicious you’ll rush to brush, or so they claim. All ingredients are responsibly sourced. They use activated charcoal (made from sustainable bamboo), to help whiten teeth and freshen your breath. The container is fully recyclable. Hello also make toothpaste in a tube or naked without a tube, their tube option comes in a fluoride-containing version which you can get here.
If you are not familiar with zero waste toothpaste tablets they are straight forward to use just place one tablet in the front of your mouth, chew it until there are no bits and then brush with a wetted brush as normal. Easy right?
Their ingredients are sorbitol, hydrated silica, xylitol, charcoal powder, xanthan gum, vegetable oil powder, flavour, cocos nucifera (coconut) oil, magnesium stearate, stevia rebaudiana leaf extract.
Active Wow Toothpowder
In all honesty, the name of this product is a little cheesy but it won’t make your breath smell cheesy at all. The product is black so might seem a little weird but the charcoal, as with some of the other products listed, is meant to help whiten your teeth so it might be worth the mess after all.
Zero waste toothpowders are pretty straight forward to use. Just wet your toothbrush and sprinkle the recommended amount of powder over and brush.
Active Wow’s ingredients are organic activated coconut charcoal, bentonite, sodium bicarbonate, coconut oil, mint flavour, orange seed oil. At the time of writing it was unclear what their ingredient sourcing policy is.
Butter Me Up Organics Toothpaste and Powder
Butter Me Up Organics’ toothpaste is handmade and comes in a glass jar with a wooden applicator. It’s a chemical-free blend that promises to leave your teeth feeling polished and healthy. It contains baking soda, sea salt, calcium, essential oils and coconut oil which has wonderful and naturally occurring anti-bacterial properties and stops tooth decay.
Note that it’s a salty tasting toothpaste. as it contains baking soda and sea salt to remineralize teeth.
Butter Me Up Organics make both a toothpaste and powder. Their powder contains Kaolin Clay, Bentonite Clay, Baking Soda, Activated Charcoal, Ceylon Cinnamon, Calcium Citrate, Clove Oil, Myrrh Oil and Peppermint Oil (all organic of course).
Georganics Natural Toothpaste and Powder
Georganics make a full range of natural oral care products which include amongst other things toothpaste, toothpowder, mouthwash, toothbrushes and natural floss. They’re based in the UK and all packaging is zero waste consisting of glass, aluminium and cardboard.
Their toothpaste is blended with organic oils, is fluoride free and SLS free and they produce a number of flavours including an activated charcoal option to help keep your pearly whites, well… white. There is an orange flavour, ideal for fussy little ones.
The glass bottle comes with a wooden applicator, which means you can keep your toothpaste bacteria-free if you stick to using the applicator.
Georganics toothpaste ingredients are calcium carbonate, caprylic & capric triglyceride, kaolin, cocos nucifera oil, butyrospermum parkii butter, diatomaceous earth, sodium bicarbonate, mentha piperita oil, tocopherol, limonene.
Primal Life Dirty Mouth Toothpowder
Primal Life was started by best selling author Trina Felber who wrote Beauty’s Dirty Secret. She is dedicated to creating products safe enough for her children to use, which makes sense to me!
Dirty Mouth Powder comes in a range of flavours including spearmint, bubblegum, cinnamon, peppermint, orange and black spearmint with activated charcoal.
Ingredients include Bentonite Clay, Activated Charcoal (Black formula ONLY), White Kaolin Clay, Baking Soda, French Green Clay, organic Essential Oil of choice. Monk fruit (sugar-free) in sweet formulas.
Primal Life also makes a toothpaste, toothbrushes and a gum serum to promote healthy gums.
Make your Own DIY Toothpaste
If you’d like to get a little crafty in the kitchen and cook up your own toothpaste you can easily do so at home. This way you’ll know exactly what’s in it, but note that it won’t have been tested in a lab so you’ll have to take a leap of faith in that respect.
A Note on Charcoal in Natural and Zero Waste Toothpaste
There is an increasing number of toothpaste brands that offer a charcoal option aimed at whitening teeth. Further research on charcoal in toothpaste is needed, so please proceed with caution as there are reports that the charcoal can accumulate in the cracks and crevices of older teeth, causing staining. The effects of charcoal on restorations are also not known so it’s best to speak to your dentist if you have concerns.