8/15/2016

zero waste: dental floss

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Hello, foes of the trash,
a highly discussed topic in the zero waste- community is flossing. While everyone agrees on bamboo toothbrushes and self- made toothpaste, avoiding waste in dental floss is much more difficult.

Why is flossing bad for the enviromentt?
I started flossing when I was rather young with flossing tips. They are plastic sticks with one string of floss attached, so that children can easily grab and use it. Mine were animal- shaped and colorful.
Good for the children, but not so for the waste.
One flossing tip is 1 gram of plastic. Since I used the same flossing tip for 2-3 days, I created about 120 grams of plastic a year plus the plastic packaging of the tips.
The floss is not made out of plastic but either of nylon, teflon or synthetic wax, all ingredients that are definitely no natural part of our nutrition (the body absorbs stuff we put into our mouth through the oral mucosa) and take a long time to decompose as well.

How about dental floss rolls?
After I had used up my flossing tips, I switched to flossing rolls, where there is just one plsatic box with a roll of floss insde. My "flossing box" weights 12 grams and the roll of floss (50 metre) in it 6 grams. Going from my average floss use of 10 centimetres a day, this would last for 1 1/2 years, what would be 12 grams of floss waste a year. Compared to the 120 grams that are produce while using flossing tips, this is a significant decrease.
But still, it is waste that goes into the oceans, poisons the earth and kills flora and fauna.

So, is there a environmentally friendly alternative?
There is so- called Eco- Dent floss; floss that is packaged in a paper packaging. This is easier to recycle, but after all, it is still waste and the floss itself produces trash as well. Other common alternatives are Natural Silk Floss and DenTek Natural Floss Picks.
Researching this topic, I silently came to the conclusion that a little waste might be unavoidable for dental floss.

Isn't there something waste- free?
Then, I came to a page recommending a very different alternative. Instead of using a thread- like tool, the blogger recommends using an electronic water flosser. This is a gadget that looks like an electronic toothbrush connected to a small water tank. While "flossing", the water is pumped into the stick with a lot of press so that this water jet is able to clean the areas between your teeth.
Since we happen to have such a gadget (my father bought one for the whole family that he is now using alone) I will try out this alternative and give you an update about my experience in a few month.
While this gadget may create no trash (apart from the packaging in the shop, of course), I am very sceptical about the water use of this tool. I will let you know about my experience as well as the ecological assessment in my update post.

~inspiration & information: 1, 2, 3

I hope, you enjoyed this blog post, happy flossing and see you soon,

Hopey


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