Choosing a plastic-free toothpaste for the first time isn’t easy.
It can be pretty confusing when you’re trying to work out whether to choose more traditional toothpastes in more eco-friendly packaging or be brave and try something like a toothpowder.
Even if you’re committed to reducing your plastic waste, this can be enough to have you turning a blind eye to that tube of toothpaste sitting in your bathroom and have you compromising on your principles.
Here at Naturaler, we’re serious about helping you live a more eco-conscious lifestyle. That’s why we’ve created this guide – to guide you through the world of plastic-free toothpaste so you can make more ethical choices and do your bit for the planet.
We’d like to start this article about plastic-free toothpaste by asking you not to panic.
What’s the problem with toothpaste?
The problem with toothpaste is that it comes in a plastic tube which cannot be recycled. The tube can’t be recycled because the package still contains traces of the toothpaste when thrown away so it must be cleaned before recycling.
Although this is something that’s physically possible to do, most households don’t so it’s simply thrown into the regular bin and ends up in landfill. Additionally, many local authorities won’t accept plastic toothpaste tubes for recycling.
Since toothpaste is something we can’t really avoid, what options do we have to make sure our dental health routine doesn’t add to the ocean’s already huge plastic problem?
One solution is to make your own toothpaste (see the recipe at the end of this article).
If you don’t fancy concocting your own, then check out our list of some of the best plastic-free toothpaste choices below so you can make a start on your plastic use reduction.
Does toothpaste have plastic in it?
Until July 2018, many brands of toothpaste did used to contain plastic microbeads but these were banned for environmental reasons. This means you can breathe a sigh of relief if you live in the UK or another European country.
However, if you live further afield, you might want to check that packaging…
What are the options for plastic-free toothpaste?
If you want to choose a toothpaste that is better for the environment and as close to zero waste as possible, you now have several options.
1. Glass jar
The most popular of these is perhaps the glass jar of toothpaste that looks and feels just like regular toothpaste, but without the plastic. Often these types some with or without fluoride and with a variety of ingredients.
2. Toothpaste tablets
Then we have the toothpaste tablets. They’re ultra-minimal, lightweight and fabulous for travel yet they can take some getting used to. The effort is very much worth it though. You can find toothpaste tablets with fluoride and without.
3. Solid toothpaste
Then finally we have the solid plastic-free natural toothpastes which look more like a bar of soap and work in a similar way to the glass jars.
Many of these don’t contain foaming agents like SLS so they don’t feel like they’re as effective as they should be. But keep the faith! They are working their magic on your teeth but without the potentially harmful chemicals.
So, to answer the question, “Is toothpaste or powder better?” we’d have to say that it depends. If you’re new to natural or plastic-free toothpaste, then it can be a good idea to try both.
With or without fluoride?
Fluoride is a hot topic within natural health and wellness circles and the medical profession as a whole.
According to the NHS, this substance that is routinely added to toothpaste is “a naturally occurring mineral found in water” and can help protect your teeth against tooth decay. It does this by adding a layer of minerals onto the surface of your teeth to make them more resistant to bacteria.
However, there’s a lot of controversy behind this statement as there is some concern over whether our modern intake of fluoride could be causing health problems such as reduced intelligence in children and potential kidney problems.
After all, it’s a synthetic form of fluoride that is added to our water and toothpaste, and in much higher quantities that would be found naturally.
At the end of the day, whether or not you choose to use fluoride is a personal matter. Consider your personal philosophy, your health and the condition of your teeth. If you’re concerned, consider speaking to your dentist before you make your decision.
Best Plastic-Free Toothpaste in the UK
We know how hard it can be to choose a plastic-free toothpaste. That’s why we’ve gathered together a list of our top five favourite brands. These include those with fluoride and without.
1. Denttabs Toothpaste Tablets
Contains fluoride? Yes
Brushing our teeth is sometimes one of the last things we do before we leave the house, so it can often be a rushed affair, resulting in toothpaste splatters on our freshly cleaned top.
But you won’t have to worry when you use this fantastic plastic-free toothpaste from German brand DENTTABS. Because they’re solid tablets and don’t contain foaming agents, you can simply pop one of these in your mouth with a bit of water and crunch them a bit before brushing like normal. This means you won’t have to worry about mess and your teeth will become beautifully clean.
The packaging is also fab. They come in a recyclable cardboard box so they don’t create any plastic waste and so can minimise your impact upon the planet.
It’s important to bear in mind that these toothpaste tablets do contain fluoride, which is an ingredient that many people are removing from their dental routines. (See the section above on using fluoride toothpaste for more info).
- Work out cheaper than tubed toothpaste
- Mint flavouring
- Handy to have toothpaste amount regulated
- Great for big families
- Perfect for travel (no liquid)
- Comes in recyclable packaging
- Contains fluoride (may be positive for some, but many are choosing to avoid fluoride)
- The larger packages of DENTTABS come in a small (recyclable) plastic bag
- Could be hard to get used to
2. Lamazuna Solid Toothpaste
Contains fluoride? No
If you’ve never seen a solid toothpaste before, then prepare to be amazed. Cleverly handmade in France and coming on a compostable wooden stick, this eco-friendly toothpaste by Lamazuna looks like a lollipop but works wonders on your teeth.
To use, you just need to rub your wet toothbrush with the solid paste and brush as you usually would. Although this is an innovative approach, it does mean that you might want to have one of your own instead of sharing toothpaste. This could get expensive if you have a large family!
Having said that, you get a generous 20g of solid toothpaste with each pack and it lasts twice as long as regular toothpaste, meaning you will save money over the long term.
All of the ingredients are also 100% vegan and come from natural sources: organic coconut oil, calcium carbonate and peppermint oil make up some of these natural ingredients.
Due to the essential oil used in this product, it isn’t suitable for children under 3 or for pregnant women.
It’s eco-friendly, refreshing, slightly odd-looking but awesome.
- Zero plastic packaging
- Compostable stick
- Longer lasting than conventional toothpaste in a tube
- Minty flavour
- Relatively expensive purchase (but long lasting)
- Not super hygienic to share this toothpaste
- Will need to find a way to store it in between uses
3. Georganics Natural Toothpaste
Contains fluoride? No
If tabs or solid toothpaste don’t float your boat, you might want to try out Georganics Natural Toothpaste. Coming in an attractive glass jar, it minimises waste whilst also keeping your teeth clean and it’s brilliant for daily use.
It’s also free from al the bad stuff and it’s great for those with an eco-conscious as it’s fluoride free, SLS free, glycerine free,100% vegan and PETA certified too.
This toothpaste has also been formulated to help re-mineralise your teeth and keep the pH levels in your mouth balanced for improved oral health. It contains sodium bicarbonate which is antibacterial and acts as a disinfectant to help keep your teeth and entire mouth clean and uses an organic virgin coconut oil base, making it suitable for all ages and works brilliantly for those with sensitive teeth.
You don’t need much to clean your teeth either. Just use the bamboo spatula to scoop out a pea-sized amount of this toothpaste onto your brush, then brush your teeth as normal.
Because there is no SLS in this toothpaste, you won’t get the same foaming you get from a conventional toothpaste, but this is something people tend to get used to over time.
This toothpaste comes in a glass jar with a bamboo spatula inside a compostable box.
This is truly one of the best toothpastes on this list for those looking for a natural, plastic-free alternative to regular toothpaste.
- Fully recyclable packaging
- Made in the UK
- Quite pricey
- Consistency may not suit all
- Taste might not be suited to everyone
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Contains fluoride: No
This handmade plastic-free toothpaste by Truthpaste is a wonderful toothpaste that acts in a similar way to regular toothpaste, although you won’t get the same foaming effect.
The peppermint and wintergreen flavouring of Truthpaste is super refreshing and the formulation has strong antibacterial, antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties – helping to fight decay and bacterial diseases in your mouth.
It’s also free from palm oil, glycerine, fluoride, SLS and all the other chemical nasties and instead uses natural ingredients such as aloe vera, neem, myrrh and other essential oils.
In a similar way to the Georganics paste, it works just like your usual tubed toothpaste.
To apply it, you will need to keep your brush dry before dipping it into the jar and scooping a little bit out (you could use a wooden spatula if you have one – there isn’t one provided with the jar).
This toothpaste comes in a 40 g or 120 g glass jar so it will last you and your family a good amount of time.
This is a wonderfully natural product that just happens to be plastic-free too.
- Recyclable packaging
- Certified organic
- A little expensive
- Could be slightly messy/awkward to use
- Texture and consistency might not suit all
- Taste may not suit all palates
5. Eco Living Toothpaste Tablets
Contain fluoride? Yes.
Free from nasty chemicals like preservatives, germ-inhibiting substances, binders as well as nanoparticles and aluminium, these zero waste toothpaste tablets are absolutely fab.
Although the tablet format does take some getting used to, they taste just like regular toothpaste and they’re very affordable too. We love taking them on our travels as the tin is compact and lightweight and they last for up to a month, making them perfect for holidays and extended trips.
Once you’ve run out, you can simply order a refill pack from Eco Living which is packaged in fully biodegradable, compostable plastic and recyclable paper.
What I didn’t know when I first tried these is the fact that Eco Living will plant a tree through Eden Reforestation Project for every product sold and they’re active members of 1% for the Planet, donating a portion of profits to protecting our oceans from plastic pollution.
They also have a fluoride-free version of these toothpaste tablets if you’d prefer to avoid the stuff.
- Recyclable packaging
- Made in the UK
- Compact and great for travel
- Toothpaste tablets take some getting used to
- Some people might not be keen on the consistency
Three extra ways to reduce your dental care plastic waste
Of course, it’s not just those toothpaste tubes that contain plastic. There’s a ton of plastic used in our bathrooms, especially when it comes to our dental routines. So, if you’re serious about reducing your environmental footprint and reducing plastic waste, it’s a good idea to consider several other alternatives.
The best place to start is with your toothbrush, your dental floss and your mouthwash. Of course, you can also make your own plastic-free toothpaste too. Here’s how:
Plastic toothbrushes are produced at an alarming rate and with dentists recommending you change your toothbrush at least every 3 to 4 months, it’s safe to say there is a lot of plastic waste being produced by toothbrushes alone.
The statistics are scary. On average, a plastic toothbrush will take over 400 years to decompose and the UK alone produces millions each year (and this expands to an annual estimate of 3.6 billion worldwide)!
So, what can we do about it?
The easiest way is to switch your plastic toothbrush for a bamboo toothbrush instead.
Bamboo takes about 6 months to decompose, which is a vast improvement on plastic.
However, as yet plastic bristles made from nylon-4 are the only option because a natural bristle would retain moisture too easily and your toothbrush would become a breeding ground for bacteria, which isn’t great for your oral health. What you can do is remove the plastic bristles before you put them into the compost. Yes, it’s not ideal but it is better.
Electric toothbrushes are also made from plastic, and unfortunately zero-waste electric toothbrushes don’t exist yet. If you do use an electric toothbrush, do bear in mind its carbon footprint of your brush- the electricity you use to power it does come from somewhere, after all.
Many dentists recommend that you use mouthwash to clean up your mouth and remove any debris loosened after brushing. However, these mouthwashes come in big plastic bottles that are hard to recycle.
If you’re a person who loves mouthwash, you’ll be pleased to know that there are several plastic-free, zero waste options available in the UK.
Geoorganics produce some brilliant mouthwash tablets that are packaged in glass and last a whole month and Ben & Anna produce a stunning liquid mouthwash that is vegan friendly and utterly gorgeous.
Since flossing your teeth can be pretty beneficial to your oral health, many people opt to use dental floss as a part of their tooth cleaning routine.
However, most popular brands of dental floss are packaged in plastic containers and many are made using plastic, making them bad news for the planet.
So why not swap to a more friendly option? Eco-friendly floss does exist! Instead of plastic, it’s usually packaged in glass or biodegradable packaging, with the floss itself made from biodegradable bamboo or silk.
Many people are also turning to water flossers like this one, which shoot a jet of concentrated water that loosens debris from between the teeth and keeps your mouth clean.
These products are made from plastic but can be reused every day.
Making Your Own Toothpaste
As we mentioned before, toothpaste tubes and caps contribute to the growing problem of plastic in our oceans – by 2050, it is predicted that there will be more plastic than fish in the sea.
But fret not, there are plastic-free toothpastes available and you could even make your own toothpaste if you wanted.
There are lots of different recipes. Here are just two:
Homemade Toothpaste Recipe 1
- 2 tbsp coconut oil – Check out Biona Organic at EthicalSuperstore.com
- 1 tbsp baking soda
- 15-20 drops peppermint oil (or whichever oil you prefer)
Once mixed together, you can just scoop a little out each time you brush your teeth and store it in a glass container or tin. This won’t froth up like your usual toothpaste, but it will still clean your teeth!
Homemade Toothpaste Recipe 2
- ½ a cup of coconut oil
- 2 small packets of stevia powder
- 2-3 tablespoons of baking soda
- 15-20 drops of peppermint oil (other tasty essential oils can be used for different flavours)
All you have to make this toothpaste is melt the coconut oil slightly and add the rest of the ingredients to it.
Stir this up, pop it in a glass jar and keep stirring it every so often as the mixture cools. Once the mixture has cooled, you have toothpaste!
Now you can just scrape off a small amount with your toothbrush and get to brushing!
If we had to pick just one of these products to recommend it would be Denttabs Toothpaste Tablets as they’re affordable and come in very simple cardboard packaging.
However, they do contain fluoride, so if you want something fluoride-free we’d recommend Georganics Natural Toothpaste instead.
Remember that there are many ways to reduce the amount of plastic you’re using, and not just in your bathroom either. Read our complete guide on how to use less plastic here.