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Is your toothpaste free of waste?

No-waste activists have begun the process of eliminating the use of plastic bags and single-use bottles within the recent years. Even countries such as India have installed laws to address the overpopulation of plastic in the world, but many people neglect to take a peek at the amount of plastic in their bathrooms. Shampoo, conditioner, deodorant, toothpaste and face wash all come in plastic bottles.

By stopping at your local Lush store, it can be easy to substitute shampoo, conditioner and face wash for low-waste alternatives, but finding substitutes for toothpaste and deodorant is near impossible.

However, switching to homemade toothpaste and deodorant offers a lot of benefits: it eliminates the use of plastic tubes and bottles, saves money, is better for your body and detoxes chemicals left from conventional deodorant.

Experts estimate 400 million toothpaste tubes are thrown away annually in the United States. That’s 1.5 billion globally. Because plastic does not decompose, billions of tubes are sitting in the landfills, not going anywhere.

When you use conventional deodorant, your skin is accustomed to relying on chemicals that block your pores, and once you begin using natural products, your body will detox the buildup and residue that’s under your skin. Many of the chemicals found in conventional deodorants have been linked to infertility, breast cancer and hormone disruption.

It’s suggested not to wear deodorant for a few weeks before switching to natural deodorant, allowing your body time to go through a detox period. While the weather is still cold, now is an ideal time.

If you decide to switch immediately, you may notice irritability and more sweating, so weaning yourself over could help with the change.

I began changing my bathroom products from plastic to low-waste, chemical free products last summer. I read about how the chemicals affect the body and was surprised that stores were legally allowed to sell products tied to cancer. I tried brands that sold chemical-free toothpaste and deodorant, but I wanted to go one step further and go waste free. The best way I could think of doing this was to make the products myself. Thus began a deep dive into Pinterest to find the perfect recipe, and after trying several, I came up with a recipe that worked the best for me.

Since I switched three weeks ago, I have noticed a lot of improvements, especially in my oral health. My teeth are whiter, and overall my mouth feels cleaner and stays fresh thoughout the day, unlike store-bought toothpaste. I even got my sister to switch, and she has expressed how much better her teeth have felt. Even though the taste isn’t wonderful (you can always add more essential oils), I don’t think I’ll switch back to store-bought products.

There are less than five ingredients used between the two hygiene items, making it cost effective, especially for college students. All of the ingredients are common household items, so the recipe could be thrown together during a home visit. The primary ingredient for the no-waste toothpaste is coconut oil, which is antibacterial, antimicrobial and antifungal.

Switching to no-waste toothpaste is not only better for the environment but also good for your health. | Photo by Nina Lange

Homemade Toothpaste Recipe

4 tablespoons coconut oil

1.5 tablespoons baking soda

20-40 drops of your preferred essential oil

Homemade Deodorant Recipe

¼ cup cornstarch

¼ cup baking soda

½ cup coconut oil

¼ teaspoon essential oil of your choice