One of the easiest ways to lead a more sustainable life is to learn how to make your own products instead of relying on someone else to do it for you. Not only is this cheaper and more environmentally friendly, there’s a deep sense of satisfaction knowing, “I created this for myself and I know exactly what goes into it”. Plus, you can tweak it anytime you like to make it exactly how you want it.
I think there’s this misconception people have about zero waste that it takes forever to make stuff; like you’re going to be slaving away all day crafting all these products from scratch. But really, for me, its much more convenient to whip this toothpaste up in 5 minutes in the comfort of my home than to buy it at the store. Pull open the drawer, realize toothpaste is low or we’re out, have to make a trip to the store, buy the toothpaste, and come back home.
I’ve been making and using this recipe for about 5 years now, actually before I went zero waste. I had researched what kinds of chemicals were in toothpaste because I was worried about my kids swallowing small bits of it. What I found DISGUSTED me- Many of the top brands, like Crest, Sensodyne, Biotine, Colgate test on animals and use all kinds of chemicals in them- to make them foam, for the colors, to make them smell and taste good= not to mention the microbeads aka tiny pieces of PLASTIC in some varieties. Our mouth is highly absorbent so any chemicals in oral care products can easily go right into our blood stream. Also, pretty much all commercial toothpastes contain glycerin, which coats the teeth and prevents natural remineralization from your own saliva.
I asked our family dentist for his insight on the formula before I started using it and he said it was great and actually gentler than many commercial toothpastes. Did you know “whitening” toothpastes generally have quite a strong abrasive in them to polish aways stains (and enamel)? After years of use, our teeth are always really clean and when I go in for cleanings, the hygienist tells me I have essentially no plaque. Obviously I have good oral hygiene too- I floss daily, scrape my tongue twice a day, brush twice a day and use a gun stimulator to massage my gums. I also swish with water after eating anything. And I use a water pik- it’s really old from pre zero waste but I love how clean it makes my gums. I have al my wisdom teeth so it can be hard to reach all the way in the back with floss, so I go over it with the water pik.
If you don’t want to/can’t make toothpaste yourself (or your partners not having it), there are some better options out there: fat and the moon makes a whitening tooth powder with activated charcoal in a glass container, Weleda toothpaste comes in a recyclable metal tube (I used their salt toothpaste for years and loved it), David’s toothpaste also comes in a metal tube, and Uncle Harry’s comes in a glass jar. The most sustainable option is to just make it yourself- and you probably have most of the ingredients laying around.
*edited 6/27/2018 to add: I’ve been leaving out the clay and stevia for the last few months simply because I haven’t been able to get them in bulk locally and I personally love it a little better like this even.
zero waste toothpaste
1/3 cup melted coconut oil
1/2 cup baking soda
1 tablespoon stevia (optional- my kids like it with this because it tastes less salty with the sweet stevia, you could use xylitol too or if you’re ballsy just leave it out tbh)
2 tablespoons bentonite clay (optional)
40 drops peppermint or spearmint essential oil (or a mix)
Mix all ingredients together in a glass or plastic bowl with a NON METAL UTENSIL- metal deactivates the charge of the bentonite clay.
Bentonite is an optional ingredient here and it makes the toothpaste gray- I ran out of it which is why in the pics the toothpaste is white. But it’s high in minerals, gentle, and has a magical ability of binding itself to toxins in your mouth so they can be spit out with the toothpaste. I bought a giant bag of it years ago on Mountain Rose Herbs and I just ran out. It did come in plastic at the time (this was before zero waste for us). If you live in the Bay area of California, you can buy it package free at Rainbow Grocery.
I’ve heard from some people that coconut oil can clog drains- I live in an old house with terrible drains and I haven’t had any issues. I’ve heard some people spit in the compost or outside or in the toilet instead. You can always pour hot water down the drain periodically if you’re worried, or simply omit it and use it as a tooth powder.
For extra whitening, you can add in activated charcoal to the mix. For sensitive gums, try adding in myrrh essential oil or a specific gum health EO blend. Some people might be worried about the absence of fluoride. I personally believe its toxic and not necessary, and my dentist agrees. See the comment I replied to below for a more in depth about why.
Please let me know if you try the recipe and be sure to tag me on Instagram @mamaeatsplants ! I love seeing your variations and connecting with you.
Lots of love,