The Complete Eco Friendly Floss Guide (2021)
Eco Friendly Floss guide
If you’re here you’re exploring sustainable alternatives to plastic polluting items and that’s great! But which single-use plastic items should you be prioritising to swap?
One such plastic pollutant that’s deserved of a negative reputation is floss, but why is plastic floss so bad and what eco friendly floss alternatives are out there.
Well, in this blogpost we’re going to cover:
- What floss is made from
- Is dental floss vegan?
- Is dental floss biodegradable?
- The problem with dental floss
- Natural floss alternatives
So you can go forth as an eco hero and rid plastic from your dental routine once and for all!
Let’s get stuck into the post..
What floss is made from
Dental floss is made out of one of two common plastics, either Nylon or teflon. These are often coated with wax and a variety of other ingredients depending on the manufacturer.
Some of these synthetic ingredients such as PFAs (which are used to help make substances water/grease proof) have been found in higher concentrations in the blood of synthetic floss users and are associated with kidney conditions, high cholesterol and ulcerative colitis.
Is dental floss vegan?
Most synthetic flosses are vegan, which is great right? Wrong.
Where some non-vegan waxes are coated with beeswax most plastic dental flosses are coated with synthetic petroleum based waxes which I'm sure you don’t want in your body!
Other eco-friendly alternatives are made with silk which is not vegan-friendly unless its ahimsa silk (more on that later).
Is dental floss biodegradable?
In short, no. Synthetic floss is made with nylon or teflon neither of which are biodegradable. This means that floss you used and disposed of 5 or 10 years ago is still in landfill and will continue to persist there for 100s of years.
Or worse still, floss can end up polluting the environment where it can be hazardous to wildlife.
The problem with dental floss
So, most dental floss isn’t biodegradable, can be toxic and also not vegan-friendly. But just how big of a problem is plastic floss?
If every person in the US flossed (as recommended) that would result in 2.5 billion floss dispensers being disposed of every year.
This may pale in comparison to the number of straws estimated to be tossed every year but when you realise the sheer amount of plastic contained in each floss dispenser (30+ meters) you realise that floss is responsible for a huge amount of plastic waste!
Much like other forms of domestic plastic waste about a 3rd of all floss waste will end up in the oceans.
This is where it can be particularly hazardous, not only has floss been shown to entangle, strangle and choke animals but it also finds it way into our food chain and drinking water.
Floss can also pose a hazard to us, as mentioned regular floss users have been shown to have higher levels of toxic PFAs in their bloodstream that have themselves been linked to a multitude of health problems.
So what are the alternatives…
Natural floss alternatives
Luckily there are plenty of natural floss alternatives available with a variety of materials, let’s take a look at some of them.
PLA floss or (Poly lactic acid) is a form of semi-synthetic floss that is derived from vegetable material such as corn. Often referred to as corn floss this floss is great as it is very similar to plastic floss in it’s cleaning properties.
One draw back is the highly debatable compostability of PLA, whilst it is compostable in industrial composters it has been shown to be difficult to get the same composting results at home.
“Bamboo” floss is slightly misleading in that the material you’re flossing with isn’t raw bamboo, and you wouldn’t want it to be either - splinters!
It is infact bamboo derived rayon - a material similar to cotton that is made from bamboo fibres through treatment with harsh chemicals, which isn’t really all that sustainable.
The outcome is a material that’s often used to make socks and tshirts but doesn’t make great floss. As a result “bamboo” floss is often mixed with polyester to give it better flossing properties but as a result making it non-biodegradable.
Silk floss is fully biodegradable and makes a great choice of material for floss. Although not vegan-friendly as it is an animal product (from silk worms), ahimsa silk is made without killing any worms.
Ahimsa silk was our choice of material for our natural floss as it gives a good balance of sustainability and usability and unlike other natural flosses actually biodegrades!
You can check our eco friendly floss here!
Floss can be a sustainability nightmare, the high plastic content and shape of floss makes it a hazard to nature and potentially too us.
Luckily there are a variety of natural flosses available (some better than others) but all better than synthetic flosses available. Whats your favourite floss type? Let us know in the comments below.
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