Why I Make My Own Toothpaste



I haven’t purchased toothpaste in years, and y​es –  I brush my teeth!​ How is this possible? I make it myself.

When I transitioned to a Zero Waste lifestyle over four years ago, toothpaste was the first product I stopped buying and started making. The ingredients are simple and easy to find at almost any store: baking soda, organic coconut oil, and organic essential oils. It takes no more than 2 minutes to combine these three ingredients, and the toothpaste leaves my mouth feeling so incredibly fresh— way fresher than store­bought toothpaste.

But let’s take a step back… why did I make the switch from “conventional” packaged toothpaste to one that I make myself?

The Packaging:

For starters, I live a Zero Waste lifestyle and toothpaste tubes are totally wasteful. They are typically sold with not just the tube, but a box as well. While the box is recyclable, the tube is very difficult or impossible to recycle and will most likely end up in a landfill. The benefit of making my own toothpaste is that I can put it in a glass jar or stainless steel container that I can wash and reuse infinitely. No plastic tubes, no trash, no landfill.

The Ingredients:

I like to have control of what I am putting on and in my body. There has been a lot of controversy around the ingredients that are in conventional toothpaste. Two that I will focus on are triclosan and sodium lauryl sulfate, but conventional toothpaste also contains fluoride, propylene glycol, and sodium hydroxide, all of which are controversial because they are linked to cancer and a long list of other ailments.

Triclosan:​ A chemical added to many products to reduce bacterial contamination which is also used in toothpaste to prevent gingivitis,​according to the FDA and toothpaste manufacturers.​In addition, it has been said to be potentially carcinogenic and have negative effects on the endocrine system in animals. It is banned in certain applications in Europe and in 2011, some of Colgate’s soap products were reformulated without the chemical, but not their toothpaste. The ecotoxicology of the ingredient is still under heavy scrutiny and EWG rates it to have a moderate/high health hazard. That’s all I needed to hear to make the decision to stay clear of it for good.

Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS): ​Is a surfactant (a foaming agent that lowers the tension between two liquids or a liquid and a solid) used in toothpaste to evenly disperse the ingredients and help with effective rinsing and removal of mouth debris. It also promotes foaming. Many studies on SLS show that it is contaminated with 1,4 dioxane, a byproduct of the manufacturing process, which is also a possible carcinogen. SLS is also said to aggravate gums. No, thank you.

If something has a supposed risk, I will avoid it until I have concrete evidence that it is safe. This is why I choose to make my own toothpaste with just three ingredients that I trust and buy package­free: baking soda, organic coconut oil, and organic essential oils.

The Savings:

Toothpaste can cost anywhere between $1­-$8 for a 6oz tube depending on the brand you are buying and where you are purchasing it from. In my experience (purchasing ingredients in NYC), I have spent at most $.60 for 6oz of toothpaste. All aside, the cost savings alone are worth it.

With so much to gain and not much to lose, making your own toothpaste makes sense! It’s cheaper to make, tastes better, feels better in your mouth, and is better for you. See for yourself, to learn how to make my zero waste toothpaste by checking out this video. 

Find some more of my favorite zero waste dental hygiene products below:

Repurposed from this post on EcoWatch.com

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A Zero Waste Alternative To Dry Cleaning

Dry cleaning. Let’s talk about it. First of all, I stopped going to the dry cleaner years ago. Not for environmental reasons, but because they are SO expensive. Paying $8 in NYC to have a shirt cleaned? No.

Besides the cost of getting my clothes “professionally cleaned”, I began to learn about what they were actually being cleaned with. The truth is that the chemicals used by most dry cleaners can cause harm to air quality and to you.

When I started making my own laundry detergent, I tested it out on my delicates and to my complete surprise, it totally worked. I now wash wool, cashmere, soft cotton, silk, linen and other delicates by hand in my sink using my laundry detergent from The Simply Co.

Many dry cleaners use perchloroethylene aka perc. Perc is a volatile organic compound aka VOC. When you get a dry-cleaning bag, most likely when you open it up it will smell a bit sweet. That is perc. The gasses from perc can cause irritation of the eyes, nose, and throat and gasses have been said to exacerbate asthma.

My advice… stay away from the dry cleaners except for professional repairs, steams, and pressing (if they are all chemical free) and wash your own clothing by hand. For me I hand wash and let the item dry flat on a towel and then iron or steam as necessary.

See below to buy the Simply Co. detergent, and one of our tote bags:

 

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Zero Waste Deodorant

This post has been a very long time coming.

Why? Because of all of the questions I have been asked “how do I make my own deodorant” is by far the most prevalent.

The reason that I waited so long to post this recipe is because we are all different.

If you go into any pharmacy, there are dozens of different types of deodorants. Ones that smell like ocean breeze, or vanilla bean, or man. Ones that make you smell less bad, ones that reduce sweating, ones that eliminate sweating, ones that make your armpits lighter, or softer… the list goes on and on. The point is that there are so many choices because everyone’s body is different which means that different types of deodorant work better or worse for different people.

When I was using conventional (aka store bought chemically deodorant) I was always switching brands. It seemed like after a while one would just stop working, like my body changed, and I had to find something new. I would try brands that worked well for my friends, but they didn’t work for me, and vice-versa.

When I transitioned to a plastic free and zero waste lifestyle I stopped using store bought deodorant. This was for many reasons but the main reasons were the packing, the ingredients, and the fact that the natural version was less expensive and worked really well.

The Packaging: 
Conventional deodorant comes packaged in a plastic container with a plastic or foil (probably lined with plastic) protective thingie, and a plastic lid. Making your own deodorant you can prevent all of that waste from being created because you can buy your ingredients package free and keep reusing the same container over and over. I love to put my deodorant in a small mason jar. I also make a pocket sized version by re-using a glass ounce sized makeup container. It is perfect for when I’m on the go.

The Ingredients: 
The deodorant I make is different from conventional/store bought deodorant because it is free of chemical elements like aluminum which have been linked to cancer and Alzheimer’s, propylene glycol which can damage the central nervous system, and parabens which are carcinogenic and environmentally disruptive. All in all, no fun.

I have played with sooooo many recipes. Ones that were runny, ones that were firm, ones that smelled like lavender… I realized that the best way to make the perfect deodorant was to listen to my body. That means making adjustments here and there, but overall the recipe in this video is the one that has kept my armpits happy over the past few years.

BUT OHMAGOSH IF THIS DEODORANT DOES NOT WORK FOR YOU PUH-LEAZE DO NOT GIVE UP ON NATURAL DEODORANT! TRY AGAIN!

I can not emphasize this enough. There are so many toxins in conventional deodorant and, again, everyone’s body is different. So if this recipe does not work for you, try another recipe. Play with the amount of each ingredient, leave ingredients out, change the essential oil, and most importantly, give your body time to adjust.

I recommend testing each ingredient on your wrist to ensure there are no allergic reactions (for instance, some people do not react well to baking soda). If that is the case, leave it out. Also, if you shave your underarms, like with any deodorant, I’d wait a few minutes before applying.

Switching to natural deodorant has been amazing for so many reasons: I save money, I do not use any single use packaging, I can adjust the scent and ingredients to make it perfect for my body, and I am not exposing myself to any toxic chemicals. Try it out, share your experiences, and post any recipes in the comment section that work well for you. We can all learn from each other!

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Cleaning the Toilet Without Waste


Cleaning the toilet is definitely not the most glamorous thing in the world, but at least it isn’t hard. Some people use bleach and other nasty chemicals to get their bathroom clean, not me! My method is completely non-toxic!

I use four things to clean my toilet:
1) Organic liquid castile soap
2) Distilled white vinegar
3) Washcloth
4) Plastic free toilet brush


Here’s how I do it.

Step 1: Spray the entire toilet with white vinegar. This includes the top, cover, seat, under the seat, and around the base. Let sit.


Step 2: Put liquid castile soap in bowl and brush clean with toilet brush, let sit.
Step 3: I use one washcloth to clean the entire toilet. To I do this I first fold the towel in half and wipe the top and the seat clean. Then I fold that in half again to do the seat and then under the seat. I then repeat the process to clean the rim and the base of the toilet. That way I use a clean section for each part of the process and only dirty one towel. I then just throw that in the laundry. Easy!


Step 3: Flush toilet, close lid. Easy pee-z. Ha.

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Zero Waste Toilet Brush

…a toilet brush?

Sometimes i’m not sure how I have friends.

But anyway, this is not just ANY toilet brush. It is special. I ordered this gorgeous thing from my favorite online shop, Life Without Plastic. It is made of sustainably harvested, untreated beechwood with soft pig bristles. It also has an edge cleaner so I can get up under the rim. You can order the brush alone, but I ordered mine with the beechwood stand and terra cotta ceramic dish. Plus, the brush and stand are 100% compostable and the dish can be reused for a planter, or for your next brush. It’s as sexy as a toilet brush can be, and I love it.

As always, the packaging for my toilet brush was 100% plastic free and recyclable. They used paper tape to seal the box and on the inside, the unpackaged brush, stand, and bowl were protected by kraft paper which I keep to reuse.

How do I clean my toilet, naturally?

I just put some castile soap in the toilet and a little bit of white vinegar, scrub, let it sit for a second, and flush. Voila!

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Zero Waste Toothpaste


I once told my boyfriend that I would never brush my teeth with baking soda like he did, and went so far as to scoff at his “unhygienic” ways. I guess the alien idea of being clean without using a packaged product with miscellaneous ingredients was too farfetched and implausable for me at the time.

But here I am. Less than two years later, making my own toothpaste out of baking soda and writing about how much I love it.

My teeth have never felt so clean.

Sure, you have to get over the saltiness of the baking soda, get into using a spoon instead of a tube, and you might miss the frothing and bubbling of commercial toothpaste, but I think of it this way: There was a time when we were trained to tolerate the stinging minty paste that we all grew up with, the one that burned because it was “working.” That burning became normal – I was taught to believe that it was what clean felt like. Not because it was super clean, but because that is what my family and my authority figures said. I later realized that my aversion to brushing with baking soda wasn’t because it doesn’t work, it was because it didn’t align with how I was raised to view cleanliness.

Transitioning to a Zero Waste lifestyle has really been as simple as understanding why I believe the things I do and retraining myself to form new habits and make simple changes to my daily ritual. It has not added hardship or strife or inconvenience at all. It’s just different. Different has been great. By challenging my preconceptions about what clean means, how I should clean, and what I need to achieve “cleanliness”, I feel more immaculate than I ever did before.


Zero Waste Toothpaste Recipe:
3 tablespoons coconut oil
1 1/2 tablespoons baking soda
25-30 drops Organic food grade peppermint essential oil

Mix all three ingredients in a glass dish (I use a mason jar).

To use, scoop out a little bit with a spoon and put it onto your toothbrush. Add more or less peppermint or coconut oil depending on your textural preference.

I suggest using it for a few days. Give yourself some time to adjust, I had to. It’s pretty different, but that’s OK.

Here is a great resource on why baking soda is awesome. It addressees effectiveness pertaining to using baking soda as a toothpaste.

Also, if you would like to watch me make Zero Waste toothpaste, check out this video!

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Zero Waste Cleaning


Sure, different cleaning products do different things, but I use distilled white vinegar as my all purpose go-to cleaner.

In the past I used bleach, windex, scrubbing bubbles and all of the toxic, horrible, products that I believed I actually needed to clean my home. I know better now. Those cleaning products are really bad for you and the environment and can lead to respiratory problems, skin irritation, reproductive toxicity, nervous system damage, and organ toxicity amongst others.

As surprising as this might sound, I prefer not to poison my body in order to keep my home clean. This is why I don’t want to use any products on my body or in my home that I wouldn’t be comfortable eating. This is exactly why I love distilled white vinegar for cleaning. It is derived from fruit, vegetables, and grains and is safe for eating. MOSTLY.

Apparently, some white vinegar that is not distilled or that does not clearly state “made from grain” is rumored to be made from petroleum, or at least made using a petroleum starter. A quote from the FDA’s website shows:

“Questions have been raised as to whether we can or should continue to consider synthetic alcohol unsuitable for food use. In order to secure more information, we wrote to the Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms Division, Internal Revenue Service. Their reply included the following paragraphs:
‘Presently, we authorize the manufacture of vinegar from ethyl alcohol synthesized from natural gas or petroleum derivatives. It is our opinion that most of the distilled spirits used in the production of vinegar are derived from natural gas and petroleum…’

When alcohol is used in the production of beverage products, our regulations require that the source of the alcohol be shown on the label except for cordials and liqueurs. Incidentally, I might add that most of the alcohol used in the production of medicinal preparations and flavors is synthetic.”

Looking into this further, it appears that it is not required for manufacturers to label whether or not their vinegar is derived from petroleum, so it is not really easy to recognize. However, the cited FDA page states that if a distilled white vinegar is labeled as “made from grains” but contains synthetic alcohol, it is considered false and misleading which could be a good indication that the product you are purchasing is pure.

When researching Heinz Vinegar, they used to write that their vinegar was “all natural, never from petroleum”, but I can no longer locate that on their page.

The best advice that I could offer is to look for distilled white vinegar that states on the bottle that it is “made from grains.” Another option? Buy Organic. A 32 oz bottle of organic distilled white vinegar runs around $6.00 and will last you a pretty long time. That is cheaper than buying a natural brand name all purpose cleaner from the store, especially if you dilute it with a little bit of water in your spray bottle. So my suggestion would be to go for the Organic if you are worried about the potential risk of using a petroleum based product, if that doesn’t bother you, buy ones that are clearly labeled “made from grains.”

Why I will continue using it: distilled white vinegar kicks bacteria’s butt and works perfectly to keeps countertops, mirrors, bathroom, tile, etc. sparkling! I use it as a stain remover, mildew eliminator, fabric softener, room deodorizer, to unclog drains, and in the rinse cycle to remove soap from clothes! Be careful using it on marble and granite because it etches, meaning the acidy of the vinegar eats away at the surface of it. Storage and usage could not be easier, I upcycled this soy sauce bottle by filling it with white vinegar and putting an old spray top on it. It works perfectly!

Blogs cited in this post: Tiny Choices and Happy Mothering

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