Toothpaste: Is tubeless the answer?

Day 54 – While working my way through the bathroom and figuring out where we could eliminate plastic, I came upon the toothpaste tube or should I say toothpaste tubes. Easily, we could have about four different types of toothpaste in the bathroom draw. Regular, kid friendly, for sensitive teeth and extra whitening, we covered it all. All plastic and all non-recyclable, a double whammy!

In my search, I came across numerous alternatives to the plastic tube of toothpaste.

  1. All natural – I have read numerous zero waste posts that suggest using baking soda and water. While this can help whiten teeth and can eliminate plaque, the baking soda can be abrasive to the tooth enamel. I did not find this a good option for the family.
  2. Toothpaste tablets – I first saw these on Shark Tank. There are countless brands available. I was intrigued by this option, but for a family of 6 it would be rather costly and I wasn’t sure how the kids would do with chewing a tablet without swallowing most of it.
  3. Metal tube – There are numerous brands that offer toothpaste in aluminum tubes (David’s, Marvis). Aluminum is a recyclable material, so it makes for a good option. Once again, the cost became an issue. One 5oz tube could cost around $10.

Then I found Tom’s of Maine toothpaste. They were the first to create a fully recyclable plastic tube. So, once we completely empty the tube, we can put the cap on and place it in our plastics bin. Though, this is not completely ideal, it’s better than our previous tubes. And since we started sorting our recyclables and bringing them to the North Park Recycling Center, I do feel a bit better about recycling plastic. Eventually, I would love to get to a place where I am not putting any plastics in the recycle bin.

Other factors that turned me on to Toms’s were the following:

  1. They use natural ingredients in their products.
  2. They are a B-Corporation.
  3. They have partnered with TerraCycle to take back products to be recycled. I am currently on the waiting list for this program.
  4. They donate 10% of their profits to nonprofit organizations, like The Nature Conservancy and United Way.
  5. They encourage their employees to use 5% of their paid time to the organization of their choice (animal shelters and schools, repairing trails and removing invasive species, and coaching kids teams).

Tom’s of Maine has been around since 1970. In 2006 they became part of the Colgate-Palmolive company. Today you can find numerous Colgate brands that offer recyclable plastic tubes. TerraCycle also has a take back program with Colgate.

Procter and Gamble (makers Oral-B and Crest) introduced their first fully recyclable tube last month. They announced that all their toothpaste tubes should be recyclable by 2025.

So, if the tube is your preference, check the label and make sure that it’s recyclable. If your tube is not recyclable or you’re not pleased with your city’s recycling program, be sure to check out take back programs.

We’ll tackle the plastic toothbrush in a future post.

Tomorrow, safely storing your food.