Dental floss. For honestly years, I only thought about dental floss when I went to the dentist and then only for a few cringe worthy moments of guilt. Do you floss?
The question always delivered with at least a smattering of accusation from a dental hygienist - a person who chose to scrape gunk from teeth for a living and was therefore basically a guilt machine in the flesh. Then one day I realized that I was an adult and should floss for pity sake (now I'm lying, one day I ate some just regular food and it got stuck between my teeth because now I have gaps where there used to be gums and I'm old.) So flossing became a thing not relegated to corn on the cob and ribs. Flossing became a daily and with it came another adult type decision. What kind? Waxed or unwaxed? Tape or “super?” Flavored? This is hard.
To add insult to injury, my daughter, is a rabid antiplaxer. That is a made up term for a human who avoids plastic – ALL plastic – as the plague upon this planet that it is. Also another guilt machine in the flesh.
So what is commercial dental floss made of you ask? Why nylon, a plastic commonly used in the manufacturing of consumer goods. Nylon is a low-friction plastic, making it perfect for stuff like dental floss, and it is also exceedingly strong so it can take plenty of strain and wear without breaking or fraying. Of course, it's not a plastic that can be recycled.
Teflon is another common material used to make dental floss, because of that slippery, non-sticky quality and again tensile strength. But Teflon contains PFAs, a hormone disruptor, that has been linked to a number of health issues and risks including: low birth weight, neurotoxicity, Alzheimer's disease, compromised immune health, certain cancers, and thyroid hormone disruption. A new report from the non-profits Silent Spring Institute and Public Health Institute is the first to link PFAs to flossing. The study’s authors say that their findings, published in the Journal of Exposure Science & Environmental Epidemiology, shed new light on how these chemicals end up in our bodies, and how we can limit our exposure by modifying our behavior and making smarter choices when we shop. Ugh.
Then it is probably packaged in hard single use plastic. Because of course it is. Some states and cities might accept dental floss packaging for recycling but the majority won't, and those hard plastic boxes will end up spending potentially hundreds of years in the landfill. Next to the yucky, used nylon floss that will take decades. Double ugh.
Now let's talk about those coatings. Petroleum is the most common synthetic wax coating used for dental floss, and just about everything else you may buy at the store. Even though petroleum is considered a carcinogen and an endocrine disruptor, and can cause serious health problems in individuals with prolonged exposure. And if that wax isn't petroleum based, it's probably beeswax and
a problem for vegans.
So now I go guilt free and use Bamboo Charcoal Dental Floss from ME Mother Earth. Made from 100% biodegradable bamboo charcoal. Packed in a refillable glass container with zero plastic packaging. The black floss makes it easy to see what's getting out of there, it's plenty strong and coated in VEGAN candelilla wax and peppermint essential oil. I love the stuff as much as it is possible to love dental floss. That's saying a lot. The antiplaxer is satisfied. Chaos is averted. It may not be world peace or a solution to plastic pollution, but it's a step in the right direction and a little less guilt in this world is a win.
Article written by contributor: Patricia Rodriguez
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Me.Mother Earth was created by Amanda Runkle and Alberto Gomes who aren’t experts, just two Mother Earth loving humans who share their plastic-free tips and advice with the help of contributor writers. The various DIY & zero waste methods, suggestions, and tutorials on Me.Mother Earth are not error proof, they’re merely what worked for Amanda and Alberto along the way. Extra precautions and additional research are always advised and Me.Mother Earth cannot be held responsible for your personal health or the outcomes from any of the articles shared on our Blog.