Ever since we went zero waste, we have learned to make pretty much all of our own cleaning and body care products while keeping everything as simple and time-efficient as possible. Heck, I even wash my hair with white rye flour! However, if we had to pick our favorite recipe, we would probably go with this deodorant recipe! Yes, even though I am one of these lucky people with odorless sweat. I know, it’s so not fair. Blame my mom for it.
Hanno, however, isn’t as lucky. He always says, and I quote: “This is the best deodorant I have ever used!” And I can attest to that!
When it comes to homemade products, I usually have to explain that, yes, oftentimes they are less effective. Our DIY dish soap doesn’t cut grease as well as its aggressive cousin. BUT the over-the-top effectiveness comes at a price. These products are usually chemical cocktails with many harmful substances. They are overachievers on steroids. And these steroids are neither good for our health nor the environment. And I rather use a less effective dish soap than use the doped one that will cause my sensitive to break out again.
This deodorant, however, will blow your store-bought selection out of the water!
It is better in every aspect! Making it is easier and quicker than going to the store. This deodorant is also ridiculously wallet-friendly. It is neither harmful to you nor the environment. Best of all, it is super dooper uber mega effective!
So how does this work?
Baking soda is known to neutralize odors. It changes the PH value on your skin, making it more uninhabitable for the bacteria that are to blame for the pungent smell. The tea tree oil in this deodorant has a similar effect. It is antibacterial. So instead of just covering up the bad smell with some fragrance, this deodorant actually nips the cause in the bud. Furthermore, the lime oil helps to prevent these unsightly white sweat marks, which is quite the bonus in my humble opinion. Read More
Boy, it has been ages since I last wrote about sustainable toothbrushes. My dear Instagram followers know that I went really far down the rabbit hole on my quest to find the most sustainable toothbrush ever since. I thought all I had to do was to read the product information and compare the different bamboo toothbrushes on the market, but oh, was I wrong…
The Truth about “100% compostable” or “100% plastic-free” Toothbrushes
Well, just like many people’s Facebook relationship status, it is complicated. There is no perfect toothbrush, but some choices are better than others. Do not get me wrong, most manufacturers I know of do strive to make their toothbrush as sustainable as possible. They are a passionate bunch, trying to make this world a better place. But it just isn’t an easy task they took on.
Most of these toothbrushes have a bamboo handle. This makes a lot of sense, because bamboo is antibacterial by nature and a ridiculously fast growing plant. Some, but very few, stick to local wood. Both are great options. However, this is the easy part.
What’s tricky is the material of the bristles. There is always the traditional option of using pig hair. Yes, 100% natural and compostable, but not quite cruelty-free. What’s more, pig hair is hollow inside, making it the perfect breeding ground for bacteria. You can still find wooden toothbrushes with pig hair if you want to, especially in Germany and Austria, where the traditional craft of making brushes from natural materials is still very much alive. If you do want to go for this option, I would recommend you to sterilize your toothbrush with boiling water every couple of days.
A while back, nylon-4 was all the rage. Nylon-4 is a petroleum (= fossil fuel) based plastic that is said to biodegrade within months. Long story short: Nylon-4 seems to be biodegradable (≠ compostable), as studies like this one suggest. Sadly, in reality, all is not gold that glitters. True nylon-4 is hard to come by due to a lack of manufacturers, and many suppliers sell fake nylon-4. So many sustainable toothbrush companies thought they were making truly 100% bidegradable toothbrushes, followed by a rude awakening.
100% Bamboo Viscose
Recently, I have seen several new toothbrushes popping up, claiming to have completely plastic-free bristles made from 100% bamboo viscose. These toothbrushes are said to be 100% biodegradable. This is weird, because as of now, there was no way to produce bristles out of bamboo viscose without adding plastic. The material would break while being formed into bristles. Bristles made from 100% bamboo viscose would be a huge break through—and yet there is no patent and no news surrounding this groundbreaking innovation.
Well, a simple way to check is by burning it. Synthetic materials like plastic will smell really bad, the smoke will be black and the material will melt as opposed to burning clean. (Detailed table here) So far I haven’t seen or heard of any of these bristles burn clean like 100% “natural” material would. I believe it is the same issue as with the nylon-4 suppliers, and it seems like many toothbrush brands were not aware of it when I told them about it.
In the end, it is always up to each and everyone of us to decide. Pig hair is definitely not something I would personally want to brush my teeth with. So for me, Brush with Bamboo is the best option, because they have managed to minimize the amount of plastic in the bristles to 38%. The other 62% are Castor Bean Oil. The plastic is regular plastic derived from petroleum.
This new bristle that we are now using is the best available option. It’s not perfect, but it’s a step in the right direction. (Brush with Bamboo)
The entire toothbrush is chemical-free and BPA-free.
Brush with bamboo is eager to try to find solutions to ultimately make the toothbrush completely plastic-free and compostable, while keeping it vegan. Right now, they are testing different bioplastics in their machines and are also searching for all-natural materials. Really, you just have to admire this kind of dedication!
The handle is organic and from wild grown bamboo. It is not a bamboo species that pandas eat. What I really admire is the fact that they have a full-time American-managed team on the ground in China ensuring worker safety, cleanliness, and good working conditions.
The packaging is fully compostable. The outer box is made from recycled paper–no glue or tape–and can be put into the paper recycling or be composted. The wrapper is derived from corn starch and compostable in commercial/city composters within 30 days. It would probably decompose in a backyard composter or a worm bin as well, but would take considerably longer because of the lack of heat (at least 130ºF/55ºC).
Corn production is controversial, so I asked Ro from Brush with Bamboo if a paper sleeve would be an option. The German toothbrush hydrophil uses a pretty low tech paper sleeve. Unfortunately, in the US, the wrapper needs to be sealed, or they might get sued. However, they are very aware of the problems with corn production and do not support the practice. This is the reason why they are working on a new cellulose wrapper made from FSC certified wood cellulose. It is still in the testing phase, so fingers crossed!
I had had my eyes on their toothbrushes for a while now to be honest! But until recently I was living in Germany and so I stuck to my bamboo toothbrush with BPA-free nylon (= plastic) bristles that I could buy in the vegan health food store just a ten minute walk from my home. When my husband and I relocated to Vancouver, Canada two months ago, I knew this was the toothbrush we would have to get our hands on!
However, if you are not set on having a toothbrush and open to exploring other options, you could consider miswak or neem chewing sticks as 100% natural options! I have tried miswak, but have yet to try neem sticks. Both miswak and neem are used very similarly. If you live in the US, lucky you! Brush with Bamboo sells neem sticks from a farm in Florida in a paper-only packaging! Unfortunately, they cannot ship neem sticks to Canada due to some stupid regulations for agricultural products. It is quite difficult to get both miswak or neem sticks without plastic packaging. Trust me, I have tried. If you do, however, these are the most natural and eco-friendly options! They do take some getting used to and of course practice. I myself have not mastered the technique yet, but even with my poor fine motor skills my teeth felt very clean afterwards.
To enter, all you have to do is leave a comment on either this blog article or on my Instagram post. What toothbrush do you currently use? Have you ever used a bamboo toothbrush? Are there stores that sell bamboo toothbrushes where you live or do you have to order them online?
The giveaway is open to blog readers and instagrammers from the US, Canada, Europe, and Australia. Please keep in mind that all orders are shipped from the Los Angeles office in Diamond Bar, California.
This giveaway ends on Sunday, May 7 at 11:59pm PST. The six winners will be chosen by random and announced on Monday, May 8. Please make sure you leave your email address when you comment on the blog post. Only I can see your email address, and I will only forward it to Brush with Bamboo if you win.
*This giveaway is sponsored by Brush with Bamboo, which means they pay me for running this giveaway. Brush with Bamboo also sent me some of their toothbrushes to use and to take pictures of, as well as their bamboo straws (which are very cool by the way) and a travel case. However, they did not tell me what to say or choose the topic of this article. I did send them the article before publishing it to receive their feedback and to make sure my facts were correct.
This recipe is ridiculously easy, and yet super effective! One of my Instagram followers once told me punks in the 80ies used this homemade hairspray to style their mohawks! And judging by how hubby’s hair doesn’t move even a bit in the stormiest weather I have no doubts punks used to love this simple fix.
But fear not – you don’t HAVE to make your hairspray THAT over the top effective. That’s the beauty of making your own products. You can customize them to fit your very individual needs. Read More
It’s summer time! Well, we live in Germany, and summers here last about a week. Today I left the house without a jacket, and boy, did I regret it… It is still my favorite season of the year because a) I don’t have hay fever in summer, so I don’t have to worry about dying in an asthma attack, which is a definite plus, b) I don’t have to sleep with long sleeves, one electric blanket plus four additional blankets weighing down on me, and c) it rains less it rains more in the summer, but at least there are fewer rainy days.
I even got to wear my flip flops three times this year, which beats last year’s summer, whoo! Best week of the year!
So when people ask me about zero waste sun protection I’m always like: “Oh, you going on vacation somewhere warm?”
Is there a complete zero waste or at least plastic-free option for sun protection?
I used to clean my ears with Q-tips each time after I showered. I thought I was so so badass eco-friendly because I went all out for the “plastic-free” ones with organic cotton. As always, plastic-free only meant the product, not the packaging…
I didn’t waste a thought on how incredibly stupid it was to waste organic cotton on something that will be tossed after only one single use! Did you know that 1 kilogram (2.2 lbs) of cotton has a water footprint of 21,000 liters (= 5.500 gallons) of water?
Okay, so we waste all these resources, but at least at the end of the day, we have clean ears, right? Nope. Wroooong!! Read More
One of the questions I get asked most when it comes to dental hygiene is about the floss I use and what I can recommend. Pretty much everybody who is interested in Zero Waste knows about bamboo toothbrushes, tooth powder and homemade toothpaste. However, when it comes to dental floss most of us are at a loss.
Regular dental floss is just waxed nylon, rolled up in a small plastic box. Just like plastic, nylon is derived from crude oil. Unlike plastic, it does not take 500 to thousands of years to decompose, but “only” 50 – 80 years. #notimpressed Read More
I am a bit paranoid when it comes to oral hygiene! I have had gum problems for years and suffered through two painful treatments that is usually reserved for persons over 40. Just so you know: I got my first periodontitis treatment when I was 21 and my second one just last year at the age of 31. Outch!
As my dentist keep telling me: Using a mouthwash is essential when you have gum problems, since it reaches areas between your teeth and your gum that you cannot reach using a toothbrush and toothpaste.
However, I have always found store-bought mouthwash quite harsh. Years later, when playing around with an app that tells you if a product contains potentially harmful substances, I was shocked to find out that it was almost impossible to find a mouth wash (or makeup) that didn’t contain any alarming ingredients!
Today I really don’t know why I still continued using store-bought mouthwash, despite knowing that! Now that we strive to live zero waste, I have found a safe mouthwash that works for me. And did I mention it is also a LOT cheaper than its store-bought counterparts? Read More
Our homes and stores are not the only places where you can find those very common plastic toothbrushes. In fact, they are piling up – on the landfills. Over 4.7 billion (!) plastic toothbrushes are produced worldwide every year. Plastic takes hundreds of years to decompose, and before it does, it leaks BPA and phthalates into our food. Our skin can even absorb those chemicals just by touching plastic. Using plastic for disposable goods and packaging for things we eat has been a crazy idea to begin with.
However, with just a #SimpleSwap you can reduce the environmental impact and at the same time reduce the risks that come with being exposed to harmful substances.
Compostable Bamboo Toothbrushes
I have switched from using an electric toothbrush to a bamboo toothbrush a couple of weeks ago. It was a bit weird at first, since I had been using electric toothbrushes for the past eight years. Turned out they do make you kind of lazy and your fine-motor skills will degrade XD.
If you are using a regular plastic toothbrush, switching to a bamboo toothbrush will be a breeze.
Other Sustainable/ Compostable “Toothbrushes”
If you are the more adventurous type, you might evenconsider trying something entirely different :)!
Compostable toothbrushes and their packaging. From left to right: Bamboo toothbrush, miswak stick, Swak toothbrush and replacement brush heads
Miswak is a traditional tooth cleaning twig with many medical properties and benefits including antibacterial activity. It also contains flouride like most toothpaste and it even whitens your teeth! It is still used in mostly Muslim-inhabited areas.
To use it you have to chew the bark off one end. Continue chewing until the twig forms bristles. Brush your teeth with those bristles without any water or toothpaste. After a while you can just cut off the end with the bristles and continue using the stick until it is too short to hold it properly :D.
Brushing your teeth with miswak is said to be very effective and hygienic, which is why I bought a stick (but I still haven’t gotten around to using it…).
Unfotunately, miswak sticks are usually sold in plastic, so even though the stick itself is very eco-friendly, the packaging is not.
The SWAK Toothbrush is a cross between a miswak stick and a regular toothbrush. Quite the breed, huh ;)? It has a handle just like a regular toothbrush and uses a small miswak stick where you’d expect the regular bristles to be. The handle is made from corn-based plastics, so yes, the entire toothbrush is biodegradable :).
Using it can be a bit tricky though. It takes a lot of practice – and patience I just do not seem to have.
If you want to rush across your teeth at break-neck speed you better stick with the plastic scrubbers. Once you’ve learned the technique though, the SWAK is more thorough and leaves a better mouth-feel than any other method. – Swak website
Just like a miswak stick it does not require any water or toothpaste. You scrub each tooth individually by turning the handle (left-right-left-right) in your hand, ignoring the chewing surfaces. Then you leave your SWAK out to air-dry.
Trust me, this procedure is not as easy as it sounds!! I will give it another shot though ;).
So far it is only sold in Germany, Austria and Switzerland.
Where To Buy Compostable Bamboo Toothbrushes
If you live in North America, you can purchase a Brush with Bamboo toothbrush (a 4-pack for $20). Brush with Bamboo uses BPA-free Soft Nylon bristles that are recyclable, but not compostable.
If you live in the U.K., you can head over to Save Some Green to buy a 3-pack for £ 8.50. You can choose regular bristles or ones made from bamboo fibres! How awesome is that?
In Australia (and New Zealand), there is The Evironmental Toothbrush, where you get a pack of 12 for only $36 (Australian Dollars). This bamboo toothbrush is vegan friendly and fair traded. It seems like the bristles are also made of bamboo fibres :).
Well, we live in Europe. More specifically in Germany. The brand we are using is hydrophil (3,90€/ toothbrush). Their toothbrushes are vegan-friendly and they donate to Viva con agua to support the access to clean drinking water worldwide. The bristles are made of biodegradable Nylon4 fibres that are supposed to decompose within 18 months. They do ship to other European countries (8,90€) and to Switzerland (15,90€).
Ecobamboo is another European manufacturer from Poland. They offer their toothbrushes for 3,50€ and throw in cheap shipping for other European countries. They, too, use biodegradable Nylon4 fibres.
Shampoos, like a lot of hair products, often contain silicones. Silicones only make your hair appear healthier – when in fact they are suffocating your hair by coating your hair. However, even silicone-free shampoos do contain a cocktail of additives, and no-one actually knows what impact mixing all those chemicals together actually has! We seem obsessed with our hair. There are shampoos out there to make blond hair blonder, black hair pitch-black, to make curly hair curlier, to make our hair so shiny it will probably start to glow in the dark very soon. It seems like we have long forgotten that the main function of shampoo is to simply rid our hair from dirt and excess oils produced by the scalp.
I quit shampoo seven months ago. I was hesitant at first (I, too, was willing to do a LOT to avoid a bad hair day), but I hated those plastic bottles we buy shampoo in even more. Read More