From the start of my family’s journey to reduce single-use plastic, toothpaste tubes were firmly in our sights. We were reminded of them twice a day, every time we loaded up our toothbrushes. We were already doing well having switched to glass milk bottles, we were buying bread rolls straight into our cloth bag, all our fruit came plastic-free from a local farm shop, we had found a butcher who was happy to fill up our reusable tubs, and we were using shampoo bars. Encouraged by these successes we set about ‘taking out’toothpaste tubes.
Without any hesitation I started looking into making my own toothpaste. How hard could it be after all!! After some online studying, I found a plastic-free recipe made with bi-carbonate of soda, coconut oil and peppermint essential oils. The bi-carb acts as a gentle abrasive to remove food particles from your teeth and its alkalinity combats harmful acid that attacks the enamel on teeth – Eureka! It took about an hour to make; melt the coconut oil, mix the bicarb and essential oils, and stir until the coconut oil solidified. Then, it was time to test the product on the family – I was confident this would be a winner and I had slayed the plastic toothpaste tube!!!
However, when it came to the family taste test it really didn’t go as expected!!! On first sampling I was met with comments like ‘where are the stripes, Dad?’, ‘why is it so gritty?’ and ‘it leaves a gross taste inmy mouth?’ I had to admit they were right, this needed some work.
I tried several different combinations of ingredients but to no avail. It wasn’t going to happen – homemade toothpaste was rejected.
I retreated, licked my wounds, but decided to try a different tact. Dent tab toothpaste tablets had been recommended to me by Pete from the PFD committee, so we decided to give them a try. He was clear that they were an acquired taste and to bear with it. He wasn’t wrong - from the start I wasn’t convinced that I was going to manage chewing chalk nuggets before bed every night. I persisted for a few months, but yearned for a minty hit, and so we have returned to the Colgate!!!
It was frustrating that we had been unable find a plastic-free toothpaste alternative that worked for us. However, when we reflected on our journey as a whole this was really a bump in the road – we hadhad many successes already. Did we have to reach plastic-free living perfection or was plastic-free progress good enough? The plastic-free road is a bumpy and windy one, with potholes and speed cameras – the important thing is to get on it!!