Something’s bugging me: the ubiquitous tube.

Not talking about TV.

So, one night recently while brushing my teeth, I did a quick equation in my head: let’s say the two of us use one tube of toothpaste per month. Or let’s be conservative and say we use one tube every 6 weeks. And let’s say everyone in our neighborhood is on the approximate same plan–which they’re most definitely not, since most homes house more than two people. But just for the sake of argument…

And let’s say we have approximately 30 houses on our little dead-end street. I believe that works out like this (check my math, cuz I’m lousy at it): 8.6 tubes per year per household equals 258 squeezed out tubs of toothpaste into the local landfill.

Our little street alone = 258 non-recyclable plastic tubes per year.

Now let’s just say you thought it would be worse. That my little hood’s contribution doesn’t seem like that much. But it’s toothpaste and it’s plastic tubes and it’s estimated that the country as a whole is putting well over one billion of these non-biodegradable pieces of junk into a landfill near you. Now. And every year. Over one billion.

Well, that created some dissonance for me. Here we are re-using plastic bags of every sort, composting our table scraps, avoiding using the car, eating organically, recycling like our lives depended on it…and all the while, upstairs in the bathroom is the one thing we use again and again that has virtually no chance of being recycled–it’s a straight shot into the landfill.

Needless to say, we have now in our enlightened state found ourselves in the kind of quandry that results in used up toothpaste tubes simply piling up in the medicine cabinet. Too conscious to throw it out, not having a reasonable alternative. Gonna have to figure out something soon.

Turns out there’s really only one reason to brush your teeth: microbial film. That’s right. Described as the “little coats on my teeth,” or the grody grunge feeling, that’s microbial film on your teeth and it requires an anti-bacterial party-busting agent to get rid of it. Fortunately, that party-busting agent is pretty easy to create yourself, is super cheap, and can even be made to taste pretty good. So if you, like me, are interested in figuring this conundrum out, here are some recipes I dug up on those interwebs, all of them a variation on baking soda and sea salt with flavoring and gelling agents and what not. Last night I made my first foray into the world of soda-and-salt and yowza, my mouth felt chastised…in a good way. I’m encouraged. We still have one tube left so I’ll be experimenting over the course of the coming weeks.

And soon, with any luck, I will have rid us of at least one tube habit.

Recipes for you, if you’re interested:

Homemade Mint Tooth Paste

6 teaspoons baking soda
1/3 teaspoon salt
4 teaspoons glycerin
15 drops peppermint
Mix thoroughly. Should be a tooth paste consistency. For flavor you can add a few drops of peppermint or wintergreen. Store in a container. You’ll be surprised with how fresh your mouth feels.

Super Cleanser

Hydrogen peroxide (a few drops)
Baking soda
Make a paste by combining the two ingredients. Use this paste on your teeth and also gently rub along your gums two times a week.

Toothpaste Recipe

1/4 tsp peppermint oil
1/4 tsp spearmint
1/4 cup arrowroot
1/4 cup powdered orrisroot
1/4 cup water
1 tsp ground sage
Mix all dry ingredients in a bowl. Add water until paste is desired thickness / consistency. Store at room temperature in a tightly covered jar.
Substitute 1/2 tsp each of oil of cinnamon and oil of cloves for peppermint/spearmint if desired.

Old Fashioned Tooth Powder

2 Tbsp dried lemon or orange rind
1/4 cup baking soda
2 Tsp salt
Place rinds in food processor, grind until peel becomes a fine powder. Add baking soda and salt then process a few seconds more until you have a fine powder. Store in an airtight tin or jar. Dip moistened toothbrush into mixture, brush as usual.

Loretta’s Toothpaste

1 Tsp baking soda,
1/4 Tsp hydrogen peroxide
1 drop oil of peppermint
Mix to make a paste, dip toothbrush into mixture, brush as usual.

Basic Toothpaste

1 Tsp of the Old Fashioned Tooth Powder
1/4 Tsp Hydrogen peroxide
Mix into a paste and brush as usual.

Strawberry Tooth Cleanser

1 Tsp of the above Old Fashioned Tooth Powder
1 Tbsp crushed ripe strawberries
Mix strawberries and powder into a paste and brush as usual.

Vanilla & Rose Geranium Toothpaste

1/2 ounce powdered chalk
3 ounces powdered orris root
4 teaspoons of tincture of vanilla
15 drops oil of rose geranium
Honey, enough to make a paste
Combine all ingredients and mix until you have a paste the consistency you like. Store in an airtight container. Use a clean stick (popsicle) to scoop paste onto brush. Store the stick in same container.

Ben Franklin’s Toothpaste

Ground charcoal
Mix into a paste and rub on teeth for whiteness.

Lemon Clove Tooth Cleanser

Small amount of finely powdered sage
1 ounce of finely powdered myrrh
1 pound powdered arrow root
3 ounces powdered orris root
20 drops oil of lemon
10 drops oil of cloves
12 drops oil of bergamot
Rub oils into the powdered ingredients until thoroughly mixed

Simple toothpaste mixture

Bicarbonate of soda
Peppermint oil
Mix 3 parts bicarbonate of soda with one part salt. Add 3 tsp of glycerine for every 1/4 cup of this mixture, then add enough water to make a thick paste. Add a few drops of peppermint oil for better taste

3 responses to “Something’s bugging me: the ubiquitous tube.

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