Some of you might have read my blog post with A Nun’s Life about making my own clothes in an effort to be more ecologically responsible. As I’m living out my Franciscan calling with the Sisters of St. Francis, Clinton, Iowa, I’ve been drawn to simplify and find small ways that eventually add up to a more sustainable lifestyle. One of the things I’ve noticed, as well as pretty much everyone, is that there’s plastic in everything in our everyday lives. It’s in our clothes, it’s in our food storage (from cling wrap to storage containers), it’s in everything including our toothbrushes. They’re also made from that hard plastic that just doesn’t break down and gets sent to landfills.
As I began to contemplate this, I felt called to look at different options. I began to try to find more sustainable (yet still cost efficient!) toothpaste and other toiletries. Yet, even the Tom’s toothpaste tubes aren’t recyclable. Sure, they’re made from recycled materials, but it still goes into the landfill and takes who knows how long to break down. This has led me to try to find more zero waste options.
Here’s what I found:
Toothbrushes! Here’s the option I’ve found and absolutely love using. One of the most positive things about this product is the price point… 4 for $7.99. This is roughly the same cost as the plastic options. And, it’s the number that will cover you for the year! I’m not being paid to endorse this product, but I want to share all of the benefits. The packaging is made from recycled materials and is 100% recyclable. I feel much better about my oral hygiene, especially in light of all of the plastic toothbrushes I’ve used in the past 30+ years. They’re biodegradable, but it doesn’t appear that they’re compostable.
A+ on price, A- on the attempted zero waste.
Up next- toothpaste!
After searching for a more sustainable and hopefully zero waste option, I found Bite.
The pluses are pretty plentiful. They pride themselves on being zero waste. All of their packaging is 100% recyclable, including what it is sent in. The “bits” are pressed solid tooth”paste” made from earth friendly ingredients without any “extras” that can seep into our daily lives through everything from shampoo/conditioner (think sulfates) to beverages (artificial flavoring, sweeteners, etc.). They come in a glass bottle and glass is infinitely recyclable. Remember that milk used to come in glass containers that you have a deposit on and turn in when you purchase more? Refills for the bits are in recycled and recyclable packaging and get put in that awesome glass jar. Now here’s the downside… It’s $30 for 4 months! That is WAYYYYYYYY more than I would ever spend on toothpaste. Despite this hefty tag, I am willing to pay more. It’s not available in stores (hopefully that’s a YET). As it gains popularity, my hope is the price drops and the availability increases. It seems to be a boutique market right now out of Los Angeles.
I’m still finishing up my trusty tube of Tom’s and will continue to use it as I travel (don’t want to waste it!). This morning, I tried it. Disclaimer- this is the FIRST time I tried the bits and I hope my future experiences are better.
I did as instructed. I bit down on the bit and brushed with my new bamboo toothbrush. Here’s where it goes downhill. I was gagging and struggling the whole time. It wasn’t the taste, it was just the smaller bits from chomping down on the bit. Overall the clean was awesome. I didn’t think tooth”paste” would need instructions, or practice, but here we are. My hope is that it works and I can add this to zero waste, zero plastic habits.
F on price, A+ on the attempted zero waste, and a personal F on attempted use.
Next up will be Dr. Bronner’s shampoo/body wash. When I finish my current bottles of shampoo, conditioner, and body wash, I hope to transition to this. It’s organic, fair-trade, all the good things! One of the downsides is it comes in a plastic bottle. However, it is refillable and recyclable. I’d like to use less plastic with the shampoo/toiletry arena, but this does come close. It’s expensive, but it is concentrated, so maybe it’ll only be slightly more expensive than the cheap stuff. Another plus, it’s available at Target and other retailers.
It’s a journey trying to eliminate plastics, but I hope to to keep taking small steps.
I know we all care about creation. I don’t think there’s anyone that’s like “let’s ruin the environment” (at least intentionally). So I’d like to hear about what you’re doing. What ideas might you have for me? What’s the next step (after Dr. Bronner’s) that I should take? Anyone else taking steps to work towards lessening waste or zero waste?