What is Eco-Friendly Dentistry?
Eco dental practices are taking the oral care world by storm. From the office practices and equipment used in eco-friendly dentistry to the environmentally-friendly products you use daily, our clean mouths are getting a little greener. Read on to discover what you can do to ensure all your trips are green—both those to the dentist and vacation destinations.
Finding a dentist can be difficult—and finding one that practices sustainable dentistry can be even harder. Fortunately, the Eco-Dentistry Association (EDA) is helping us out with their Green-Certified Dental Practices.
For a dentist to be deemed “green” by the EDA, it has to meet eight specific qualifications:
- A sustainable location
- Waste reduction practices
- Pollution prevention
- Energy conservation
- Water conservation
- Abide by certain patient care and workplace policies
A Trip to the Eco-Friendly Dentist
In practice, this may look like a dentist using 100% paperless communication or avoiding the use of metals like gold, which is often associated with dangerous social and environmental effects. Other sustainable dentistry offices may trade polluting X-rays for digital dental radiographs, which are associated with 70-90% less radiation.
You may also be familiar with the significant environmental impact of mercury used in dental products, including dental amalgam fillings. Known as a pervasive bioaccumulation pollutant, it will be toxic in the environment for decades—and the dental industry is one of the most significant sources of mercury pollution.
As it’s been estimated that the dental industry is responsible for around 100 tons of mercury waste every year, sustainable dentists are turning to alternatives. These may include porcelain, glass ionomer, and composite resin.
For a white smile and green future, consider making all of your trips green. In addition to turning to holistic dentists for your check-ups and procedures, you can also stock your travel bag with eco-friendly toiletries.
Take a Trip with 10 Eco-Friendly Toiletries
A trip to the dentist may not be met with much excitement, but one to the beach or cabin in the woods is! If you’re going green with your biannual dental appointments, you should also consider adding eco-friendly toiletries to your suitcase.
Why? Well, not to be the delayed flight in your busy vacation vacation itinerary, but conventional toiletries can use an eco-conscious overhaul.
Why Safe and Sustainable Toiletries?
First off, what is travel size for toiletries? According to the TSA, passengers can have travel-size toiletries that are 3.4 ounces, or 100 milliliters. They must be placed inside a clear quart-size bag and only three of these bottles or containers are permitted in carry-on baggage. Anything larger should be inside of checked baggage.
Why do they do this? Well, a certain amount of liquids are needed to be problematic. The separate 3.4-ounce containers simply aren’t enough to cause an effective explosion. While this rule—also referred to as the 3-1-1 liquids rule—was developed for use in US airlines, it’s likely the same for international carriers, too.
These tiny bottles and boxes may be safer and look adorable—but they’re anything but cute for our planet.
Travel-Ready (to Waste)
Think about it: all those teeny-tiny toiletries may be perfect for your weekend getaway, but that’s it! Quite often, they’re barely more than single-use, meaning plastic packaging that ends up in landfills after you check out of the hotel.
The machinery at recycling facilities can’t handle the small pieces of plastic, so in the best cases, they go straight to landfill where they’ll take hundreds—if not thousands—of years to degrade. Worse, they may be small enough to get caught in recycling equipment, posing a risk to the people working in recycling centers.
But, you think, surely we can’t be using too many of these miniatures? Au contraire, dear reader. US statistics are hard to come by, but in the UK alone, more than 100 million travel-size products are purchased annually. This contributes to about 980 tons of plastic waste. As the UK’s population is much smaller, we could assume that American numbers would be three to four times as much!
Not to worry, you don’t need to go without washing your hair or brushing your teeth on your next trip overseas. Eco-friendly companies have made it easier than ever before for us to pack some eco-friendly toiletries.
10 Eco-Friendly Toiletries for Your Next Vacay
In addition to some reusable, leakproof travel bottles that can be filled with some of your favorite products from home, consider tossing the following into your luggage before your trip:
1. A Bamboo Toothbrush
Why are bamboo toothbrushes better? They still ensure a clean mouth and happy smile but have a handle that isn’t made out of fossil fuels! Since it’s not plastic-based, the bristles can be removed after use and the brush can be composted. Did we mention that bamboo grows faster than any plant on Earth?
2. Plastic-Free Mouthwash
Leave the harsh chemicals behind and opt for a natural, eco-friendly mouthwash. A glass bottle is greener than plastic. While it’ll have to be stowed in your checked baggage, you can recycle the bottle when you get home—or reuse it!
3. Eco-Friendly Dental Floss
Why is dental floss bad for the environment? Well, to start, it’s made from petroleum-based plastic that may be coated in toxic perfluorinated chemicals (PFCs). Not only does nylon dental floss take hundreds—if not thousands—of years to decompose in a landfill, but it often doesn’t even make it there! Because of how small and lightweight it is, floss often ends up in oceans and waterways where it harms marine animals.
Opt for a natural, biodegradable floss instead. Even better if it comes in recyclable cardboard packaging.
4. Toothpaste Tablets
Those pesky tubes of toothpaste aren’t good for our planet—especially when they’re travel-size. They’re often made with materials that don’t make them recyclable, meaning they take a long time to degrade in landfills instead.
TSA-approved toothpaste tablets to the rescue! Contained in a recyclable/reusable glass jar or recyclable sachet, these oral care essentials get the job done—all without the unnecessary packaging.
5. A Safety Razor
Move over, disposable razors. There’s a far better alternative for smooth, hairless skin. Safety razors are a knick- and irritation-free way to get rid of stubble. Mostly made of stainless steel, they can be reused for a lifetime, cutting down on the significant waste associated with plastic-based razors.
6. Shampoo & Conditioner Bars
If you haven’t made the switch to bar varieties of shampoo and conditioner, kick off your vacation by doing so! Because you add your own water in the shower, these products don’t have a need for it—meaning they don’t require plastic bottles, either! These zero waste alternatives still ensure luscious locks, but don’t get our planet in a tangled mess.
7. Eco-Friendly Body Wash
Similarly, go back to basics and take a bar of soap with you on your trip. Most come in recyclable or compostable cardboard boxes, making them totally zero waste. To help the soap last longer, consider using a bamboo soap dish.
8. Natural Loofah
Most loofahs are made from plastic, but did you know that loofah is actually a plant?! The real thing works far better than fossil fuel-based scrubbers. And they can be composted!
9. Reusable Makeup & Face Wipes
Avoid the temptation to purchase mini makeup products for your trip and instead just bring what you use at home. To cut down on waste even more, toss some reusable face wipes to your beauty bag.
10. Menstrual Cup or Organic Tampons
For menstruators, there’s nothing worse than forgetting period products on a trip! Be sure to pack them—and consider going the greener route by opting for a menstrual cup or organic, plastic-free tampons.
Eco-Friendly Dentist Trips, Holiday Trips & More
Whether you’re heading to Cabo for the weekend or your regular DDS for a Tuesday morning appointment, try to make it as eco-friendly as possible. Every small step toward living a more sustainable lifestyle helps the world. And it’s probably easier than you think to make small changes in your everyday life!
In addition to making sustainable swaps so that your oral care routine is filled with eco-friendly dental products, consider starting a compost bin and opting for second-hand clothes and household goods. Terra & Co. is here to support you on your eco-friendly journey. Together, we can make a difference.