While we all know that flossing is essential for healthy gums and teeth, traditional flosses pose a growing threat to the wellbeing of our earth’s reserves. That thin strip of plastic we toss out each day may seem like nothing, but it contributes to the MILLIONS of MILES of discarded floss in our oceans and landfills each year.
To help you get a better understanding of the environmental impact of traditional plastic flosses, we reached out to Casper Ohm, marine biologist and editor-in-chief at Water-Pollution.org.uk to shed some light on the topic. Check out what he had to say about the dirty truth about floss:
How are traditional plastic flosses harmful to the earth?
The first and perhaps biggest issue with dental floss is that it’s cased in plastic film, which isn’t recyclable and will last several hundreds of years on our planet. As for the dental floss itself, it’s typically made out of non-biodegradable materials. The best-case scenario for the floss you just tossed out is that it will end up in a landfill. More likely though, it will end up in our water supplies and ultimately the ocean, where it will then threaten precious marine life.
How do traditional flosses impact our oceans?
Since the materials used to make traditional flosses are strong and resistant to breaking, it makes matters worse as far as marine ecosystems are concerned. Although a tiny bit of dental floss in the water may appear harmless, it tends to add on to other waste that has already been dumped in the water. This kind of accumulation creates plastic “mutations” that have no place in our oceans.
Even the small bits can be swallowed by marine animals, which will then reside inside their stomachs for years to come. Many will die from the internal organ damage associated with consuming such microplastics. Accumulated dental floss can also get tangled up in corals and float around causing irreversible damage to marine ecosystems.
What about the wax coating on floss?
The wax coatings on traditional flosses, that come in a wide range of flavors, are typically derived from perfluorinated chemicals, or PFCs. Although there is not much research to prove how much damage these actually cause to the environment, they certainly don’t help.
Are floss picks a better choice?
Floss picks might seem like a good way to reduce the amount of dental floss you use (assuming you wash and re-use the same bit of floss several times before changing it), but at the end of the day, they are also disposable and made of plastic.
Most people aren’t very frugal about using floss picks, and the net effect of dumping a few floss picks per month into the ocean is much worse than just flossing, in my opinion. Unless they are sustainably made (out of bamboo or some other environmentally friendly material), floss picks should be avoided completely.
To summarize, traditional flosses are made of, coated with, and stored in materials that jeopardize the health and well being of our earth. Fortunately, you don’t have to give up your oral hygiene routine in the name of the environment. TreeBird’s eco-friendly flosses are made from biodegradable materials and stored in pretty reusable glass containers that can be saved for future refills. For a guilt free alternative to traditional floss, TreeBird’s 100% compostable Pure Silk Eco Floss is formulated with a plant-based wax coating and all natural essential mint oil for freshness that lasts. Choose a floss that’s just as good for the earth as it is for your teeth!