Yes, eco friendly toothpaste is a thing! More and more consumers are looking for plastic-free toothpaste to stop contributing to the plastic problem. There are so many different types and brands…I’ll help you make sense of the market to find the best zero waste toothpaste for your needs and budget.
Plastic-free toothpaste is important!
Plastic-free toothpaste is important!
Did you know that almost all plastic toothpaste tubes are NOT recyclable? Plus, we toss 1.5 billion toothpaste tubes per year (source). You need to ditch the plastic tubes if you want to set up a truly zero waste bathroom!
As someone who’s struggled with their dental health their whole life, it’s very important to me that I only use high-quality, effective toothpaste. I’m not willing to take a risk with an inferior product.
In this post, I’ll help you find a low waste toothpaste just as effective as the storebought conventional toothpaste, but with no waste or as little as possible.
Disclaimer: I am not a dental or medical professional. This is not medical advice and should not be used as a substitute for medical advice. Consult with a dentist or medical doctor for any information about your oral health.
My zero waste toothpaste requirements
Okay, so remember that zero waste is really mostly about packaging and the trash produced. I like to take zero waste a little bit further than that…I like my products to be non-toxic, too.
My ideal toothpaste is:
- EWG verified
- Remineralizes without fluoride (fluoride-free)
- Easily recyclable, compostable, or package-free
- Tastes good
- Does not irritate gums
Personally, I’ve been using alternative toothpaste for years. I’ve had some good and some not-so-good experiences…
What ingredients should not be in toothpaste?
According to the EWG, most conventional toothpastes are not that bad for you. For example, most Colgate toothpastes rate between 2-3. On a scale of 1-10, that’s pretty good!
Their only concerns are the flavor, as that can include a variety of chemicals and ingredients.
Many people who try to live a non-toxic life also try to avoid sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) in their toothpaste, as it can be irritating when used internally. As I discussed in my Sal Suds review, SLS is a safe ingredient but is known for being drying when used on the body, which is why we only use it for cleaning.
Some dentists recommend avoiding SLS especially if you notice canker sores, dry mouth, bad breath, or tissue sloughing. This is when the skin of your cheeks or lips start to peel.
You may also want to watch for methol and other essential oils, like mint, that can be irritating. (I know, right? Mint is irritating? Yep!)
How to find zero waste toothpaste for sensitive teeth
Many people in the holistic, non-toxic world do not use fluoride. I won’t get into that here, but you can learn more about the problems with fluoride in this post.
But if I don’t use fluoride, how do I keep my teeth strong?
My mother blessed me with her weak, sensitive enamel, so it’s a must for me to use something remineralizing. This is where nano-hydroxyapatite (nHAp) comes in.
In a nutshell, hydroxapatite naturally occurs in teeth and bones. Your saliva uses hydroxyapatite to strengthen your teeth. In fact, 97% of your teeth is hydroxyapatite!
Nano-hydroxyapatite (nHAp) is a synthetic version of hydroxyapatite developed by NASA in the 70s to help astronauts combat tooth decay when they return to earth.
For years, it has been the gold standard in Japanese dentistry as it remineralizes and helps stimulate new growth. It’s a key ingredient in the best fluoride-free remineralizing toothpastes!
Read a review of the scientific literature about nHAp here.
Why I stopped using Boka toothpaste…
For years, I used a brand called Boka. It was the first nHAp toothpaste I found on the market and I was desperate to find something to help remineralize my sensitive teeth.
Boka helped my sensitivity significantly. I only noticed problems when I ate a lot of acidic foods, like tomatoes or strawberries, all at once.
But, Boka, like most other toothpastes, is packaged in non-recyclable plastic.
Although that’s still a good rating, I felt like there had to be an EWG Verified product out there that would meet my exact specifics. (Hint…there is!)
Find your new favorite zero waste toothpaste
Plastic-free Toothpaste in a recyclable metal tube
Back in your great-grandparents’ day, lotions and creams often came in a metal tube. Companies like Davids Natural Toothpaste are bringing this technology back!
Basically, you use this toothpaste just like regular toothpaste in a plastic tube. However, instead of squishing the bottle flat, you roll it with a stainless steel key to get out every single drop. The tube comes packaged in compostable packaging and it’s a great option for people new to natural personal care products.
Where to buy Davids Toothpaste
Is Davids toothpaste plastic free?
The tube is closed with a plastic lid, which is a negative. However, Davids states that it is made with “virgin-grade high density polyethylene (HDPE), Symbol#2.”
Plastic type 1 and type 2 are the most easily recycled and because the plastic is virgin-grade, it should have a lot of life in it before it is no longer recyclable.
To recycle the container, you do need to cut open the tube and wash it out. The tube may be sharp so be careful!
Davids vs Boka Toothpaste
Personally, I find that Davids is the closest alternative to Boka out there. The tube allows you to brush without changing your routine at all, which is great. They sell a variety of natural toothpastes, but only one flavor with nanohydroxyapatite.
It tastes great (a little saltier than Boka’s light sweetness) and it is EWG verified for being safe for our bodies and waterways!
Other zero waste toothpastes in recyclable metal tubes
Davids isn’t the only show in town, just my favorite. Here are some other options for you to consider.
- Dr. Sheffield’s natural toothpaste – Shop here
- Hey Humans fluoride and fluoride-free toothpaste – Shop here
Many natural toothpastes contain xylitol, a natural sugar alcohol. Although this product is safe for humans, it is highly toxic to dogs even in small doses. Please store products with xylitol securely out of their reach and never use xylitol on dogs.
Eco friendly toothpaste in a glass jar
There are several zero waste toothpaste options that use a glass jar instead of a plastic tube! The lids may still be plastic, so these are not always 100% plastic-free. These can be a nice low waste toothpaste option though, especially for people switching directly from conventional toothpaste products.
Uncle Harry’s Natural Toothpaste
Harry’s sells one of the best natural toothpastes we’ve tried! We love that this toothpaste is remineralizing to help fight decay and cavities. We were able to find the full suite of Harry’s products at a store near us, including a remineralizing powder, mouthwash, and more!
Sustainable toothpaste tablets
These eco-friendly toothpaste tablets contain dry, compressed ingredients. Zero waste toothpaste tablets are usually stored in a glass jar. Most toothpaste tablet companies will send refills in compostable paper packages to minimize plastic packaging.
You use it by biting down on the tablet with your molars to break it apart. Then, brush it into your teeth like normal.
Are toothpaste tablets gentle enough for sensitive teeth?
I almost ordered a toothpaste tablet with nHAp once, but I read some reviews that the biting could bother sensitive teeth. Plus, if you didn’t break down the tablet all the way, rubbing any grit against your gums could be uncomfortable.
Because of that sort of feedback and my history of dental issues, I have not tried any toothpaste tablets.
Bite Toothpaste Tablets
Bite is an extremely popular brand in the zero waste community, especially because their formula includes nano-hydroxyapatite to aid in remineralization, but they also offer toothpaste bits with fluoride! For your first order, you’ll receive a reusable glass jar and refills will come in compostable pouches. Bite also sells mouthwash, whitening paste, floss, deodorant, and body balm to help you set up a plastic-free lifestyle!
Weldental Chewtab Whitening Tablets
If I was going to use toothpaste tablets, these are the ones I would buy. They include a variety of beneficial ingredients to support oral health, like xylitol, erythritol, and nano-hydroxyapatite to remineralize while maintaining a healthy balance of bacteria. They come in a recyclable glass jar and refills come in recyclable packaging. Learn more here.
Unpaste Zero Waste Toothpaste Tablets
This brand of toothpaste tabs is very popular in the zero waste world because they ship their tablets in compostable paper pouches. Simply store the tablets in your favorite air-tight jar and compost the bag! Plus, they offer fluoride-free options and toothpaste tablets with fluoride.
Eco Friendly Tooth Powders
Tooth powder is a totally dry blend of ingredients like bentonite clay, activated charcoal, baking soda, and essential oils typically stored in a small jar or bottle.
However, there are 2 reasons I hesitate to recommend tooth powders.
1) Tooth powder is the least like conventional toothpaste. To use, dip your brush into the powder and scrub. They are typically salty and will not foam up like a conventional toothpaste, so they aren’t always an easy swap for beginners.
2) Tooth powders are hard to find with nHAp. Many incorporate other remineralizing agents like bentonite clay, but I would only purchase one that had nano-hydroxyapatite. Below, you’ll see the only tooth powder I found with nHAp! Other options incorporate calcium carbonate and clay for remineralization.
Shine Remineralizing Tooth Powder
This is the *only* tooth powder I found with hydroxyapatite and I love that it’s from Orawellness! This product is not plastic-free, but they do offer refills that will refill your jar 3 times before they head to the trash can!
Uncle Harry’s Tooth Powder
I used Uncle Harry’s tooth powder that I found at a local co-op near me and it was a good toothpaste alternative. It is highly rated for helping people with sensitive teeth and the 8 oz container lasts a long time! Unfortunately, it is packaged in plastic.
Georganics Tooth Powder
This charcoal toothpaste is recommended for whitening and removing stains as it contains magnesium and sodium bicarbonate (baking soda). Simply dip your damp brush into the powder and brush!
Herbal Zero Waste Toothpaste Alternative
There is a growing trend in herbal toothpaste oils that combine a variety of beneficial essential oils in a carrier oil. These are not always entirely plasitc-free as they do require a plastic lid.
However, these are eco friendly toothpaste options that reduce your plastic waste overall. You either add the oils directly to your toothbrush or dilute them in water as a mouth wash!
My favorite brand, Orawellness, claims that it can resolve a variety of dental problems, including tooth aches, periodontal disease, halitosis and more. I’ve used Orawellness on and off again for years. Typically, I use it regularly when I notice a cavity, which heals up, and then I forget to use it for a while!
It is packaged in a glass bottle the size of a regular essential oil bottle and it has a plastic lid. Orawellness mails the bottles it in a small paper tube in shipping and one bottle lasts quite a while!
Orawellness Healthy Mouth Blend
This is the original Healthy mouth blend. It has a spicy flavor from cinnamon oil, clove oil, peppermint oil, and other oils. It can be used several ways: as toothpaste, diluted as mouthwash, placed directly on your floss, or massaged onto a problem area. They also offer a nut-free option as the original formula uses almond oil as the carrier.
Orawellness sell bamboo toothbrushes and they included one for free with my last order! It was a surprisingly easy switch to use bamboo toothbrushes over plastic and even after a couple of months, my brush looks great!
Zero Waste Toothpaste Recipes
I remember as a kid that my dad told me I could dilute baking soda with water for a simple, homemade toothpaste.
This is true, but there are way more creative recipes out there than that!
In this zero waste toothpaste recipe from Wellness Mama, you combine a mix of calcium carbonate, diotomaceous earth, xylitol, baking soda, and coconut oil you can store in your favorite jar.
Mommypotamous has a simple waste free tooth powder recipe that relies on bentonite clay, a wonderful multi-purpose ingredient in your DIY cabinet.
What is the best zero waste toothpaste?
For me, Davids wins hands down. Their product is so effective and easy to use. It tastes great, is well-priced, and is EWG verified! It was a great switch from Boka and is my new go-to.
To me, Davids is the very best eco-friendly toothpaste out there, especially for people with problem teeth.
Is Davids the best plastic-free toothpaste? Technically, it does contain a small piece of plastic. Since it is high-quality plastic, it should be easy to recycle and is a minimal amount of waste.
As someone with poor dental health, I know that this tiny amount of plastic waste now should help me avoid greater waste in the future from dental surgeries and work.
If you need a product totally plastic-free, look for toothpaste in a glass jar (minus a plastic lid), toothpaste tablets, tooth powders in a glass jar, or try a DIY toothpaste recipe!
Don’t forget your zero waste toothbrush & plastic-free dental floss!
Remember that 91% of all plastic is never recycled. I switched from an electric toothbrush to a toothbrush with a bamboo handle.
Choose biodegradable dental floss, like this silk-based floss, to make sure your floss isn’t contributing to plastic pollution.
Are there ADA approved zero waste toothpastes?
The American Dentistry Association requires a toothpaste to contain fluoride. Since I use nanohydroxyapatite instead of fluoride, I never use ADA-approved toothpaste.
Although I linked to a few options with fluoride above (Hey Humans, Bite, Unpaste), know that toothpaste tablets have not been studied by the ADA and are therefore not ADA approved. Many zero waste toothpaste brands are newer and may not have gone through ADA certification yet.
Burt’s Bees toothpaste is now packaged in recyclable plastic tubes, so this could be a lower waste option for affordable fluoride toothpaste. They are also ADA accepted.
What is the most eco-friendly toothpaste?
An eco-friendly toothpaste must be safe on every level: ingredient sourcing, consumer safety, environmental safety, and waste.
Consumer safety: I always recommend checking your brands on the EWG’s Skin Deep Tool. Keep in mind that small or new companies will likely not be on there yet!
Ingredient sourcing: Look for products with fewer ingredients that require less manufacturing.
Product packing: The most eco-friendly toothpastes are simple pastes packaged in glass jars, powders, or toothpaste tablets.
Tooth powders and toothpaste tablets are lighter to ship due to the lack of water, nudging them above the heavier pastes.
Honestly, the most eco-friendly toothpaste is simply baking soda as it has the least amount of ingredients and can be purchased without waste. Just because something is eco-friendly doesn’t mean it’s the right option for you!
The options in this post are all shared to help you find the right eco-friendly toothpaste product for your health, brushing preferences, and budget. There is no one size fits all for everyone!
How do I balance health concerns with being ecofriendly?
Personally, I think of toothpaste kind of like how I think about shoes: buy the best quality you afford. This is a place where your health may need to nudge above your environmental concerns just a bit.
For example, I know I need a toothpaste that will remineralize and help with sensitivity. That has to be my foremost concern over my desire to remove plastics, which is why I don’t mind getting a small piece of plastic with my Davids tube.
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You can also read my posts:
The Beginner’s Guide to Starting a Real Food Zero Waste Kitchen
31 Practical & Affordable Ways to Set Up a Zero Waste Bathroom
12 Simple & Effective Zero Waste Cleaning Swaps
Zero Waste Toilet Cleaning 101