Floss is a dentist's best friend and your sure way to make your teeth happy. What tiny, innocuous product is more important to our health than a little strip of dental floss—perhaps only 12 inches long? Further, we can directly connect dental hygiene to our cardiovascular, digestive, and overall well-being. Read on as we make a case for zero waste floss and list 10 of the best.
Alongside a clean between the gaps, that inexpensive, cinnamon or mint-flavored unbreakable thread creates several health and environmental hazards. The good news is that we have alternative types of floss that don't carry the same risks and eco-burdens as traditional plastic-based flosses.
We'll come back to a discussion of the downsides of traditional floss. First, however, let's look at ten of the best alternative brands for zero-waste floss options.
Related: To complete your zero-waste dental hygiene routine, you can also pick up your choices from our lists of the best:
Click to Jump to the Best Zero Waste Dental Floss Brands:
GOGRS is a natural silk dental floss sold in three packs that total 99 yards. Packed in a refillable glass container, the filament is 100% biodegradable. Even the box, made of Kraft paper, and inner wrapping, made of corn starch, are naturally biodegradable and recyclable. GOGRS floss has a light, drug-free peppermint flavoring.
Because cruelty-free silk is not synthetic, it is subject to breaking. This is particularly true if you use it between exceptionally tight spaces between teeth. So, there is a little learning curve.
It is waxed with candelilla wax to make it glide between the teeth, and because it's all-natural, it's also suitable for sensitive gums and looking after the oral health of all the family.
Bootrybe makes this unique eco-friendly floss product from bamboo. It's organic and vegan. The product is infused with activated charcoal, waxed with Candelilla Wax, and flavored with peppermint. All with the potential to transform your dental care routine.
Bamboo is an organic dental lace fiber, though it is stronger than other natural fibers. It comes in a recyclable cardboard box and wax pouch. Once you purchase the Bootrybe glass bottle, complete with a floss cutter, you'll never have to replace it.
Me Mother Earth makes this eco-compostable floss made from bamboo charcoal fiber, vegan candelilla wax, and peppermint essential oil. It comes in a reusable glass container with a compostable paper box, complete with one free refill. And we loved the minty flavor.
It is cruelty-free, unlike some other silk thread flosses. Once discarded, it breaks down in 60-90 days. The product ships free from Las Vegas, Nevada.
Me Mother Earth has several other eco-friendly products. In its commitment to safeguarding the environment, the company donates 10% of its profits to oceanic and environmental conservation.
Other brands don't always make silk ethically. FLON, however, uses Ahimsa silk, made from vacated cocoons, for its spools. Despite the added wait time for peace silk production, FLON eco-friendly dental floss is still remarkably affordable.
The package includes 30 meters of natural silk floss, a glass tube dispenser with a stainless steel top with a cutting tip, peppermint flavoring, vegan-friendly candelilla wax, and zero-waste packaging.
Separate refill purchases are also available so that you can save and reuse the glass bottle. The minty threads ship from the United Kingdom and arrive two to three weeks after being ordered. Shipping to the US is free with a minimum $35 order. You can top up your purchase with a range of eco-friendly goods in their stores, from reusable water bottles to eco-friendly hair ties.
Another highly rated natural fiber floss is TreeBird Biodegradable Dental Floss. This filament is waxed with candelilla wax and is 100% compostable.
They manufacture this floss to slide easily between the teeth, providing a robust and pliable filament for cleaning. The floss, and available refills, are made of natural silk and activated charcoal. It comes in a refillable glass container and has a natural mint flavor with no artificial colors or fragrances.
They make the packaging itself using a compostable Kraft paper box printed with soybean ink. Stickers on the package are also plant-based and compostable.
Doctors floss is thicker than traditional options, and some users reported a learning curve in understanding how to use it between closely wedged teeth.
Isshah offers a different sort of eco-friendly dental product: the dental floss pick. Picks are real culprits in the eco-friendly world because they are single-use plastics. These Isshah picks, however, are made from cornstarch, making them an excellent plastic-free option. They are also BPA-free, vegan, and in every respect, sustainable.
They package these picks in compostable kraft paper packaging. The filament used in the pick is nylon, so better that it can't claim to be 100% plastic-free.
All the same, the filament is thick, strong, and will not shred, unlike traditional dental floss. Designed to glide effortlessly between teeth, your mouth will taste fresh due to the cool mint flavor.
Next up, check out activated charcoal Knotty Pick with a plastic-free cornstarch pick. Made with a black filament, these picks do a super job of producing visible results. They coat them with grapeseed extract, which has bacteria-fighting properties used against tooth plaque. Activated charcoal is highly effective in cleaning your teeth as part of your oral care routine.
The reusable pick and filament are 100% plastic-free and registered vegan by the Vegan Society. The picks come with 30 per pack, with three packs included with each order. The packages themselves are free from plastic and made of compostable paper.
Rather than cellophane, you'll find a window in the box made of Reverte, polyester made of vegetables that will naturally biodegrade. This vegan floss product ships free in the US from Newberry Park, California.
Simple tastes and effective uses are the epitomai of RDHopes reusable glass bottle floss holder with an aluminum top filled with bamboo charcoal floss.
The floss is covered in candelilla wax and made of bamboo fibers activated with charcoal for outstanding efficacy at cleaning debris from teeth and gums and removing stains from teeth.
Activated charcoal is porous and absorbs several different contaminants, and has a greater surface area, allowing better removal of food debris. Candelilla wax is a plant-derived vegetable wax and is often used in vegan-friendly cosmetic skin products.
RDHopes' kit comes with zero plastic content. Britany, the merchant, and owner of RDHopes work in the dental industry. She creates and presents this product as a way of protecting the environment, saying,
“Working in the dental field and seeing the amount of waste from just one office is astounding. My goal is to shift dental products in the direction of reuse. If you can reuse this jar for the whole year, that’s an estimated 12 floss containers you save from being thrown out!”
Another unique, sustainable, natural floss comes from Earth Era. Made of silk, Earth Era packages its floss in bamboo containers. It is 100% plastic-free.
The merchant has chosen silk filament, believing it's superior to cornstarch or bamboo charcoal. Earth Era manufactures their floss to slide easily between the teeth and flavors each pack with mint.
Earth Era has created this product as a form of merchandising and as an environmental statement. They write
“Our goal is to bring awareness and encourage a transition to a more eco-friendly and sustainable lifestyle. . . . With your purchase, you are helping to grow our clean environment movement which will allow us to bring more eco-friendly products and help more people transition to a plastic-free lifestyle.”
They ship in biodegradable non-plastic packaging from Ontario, Canada, with variable shipping options once an order is in the shopping cart.
Our final selection is a vegan, eco-friendly dental floss flavored with mint and ginger. Free of plastic, the filament does not use silk and, as such, is 100% vegan and cruelty-free. The twine is a natural cornstarch product designed to clean teeth without making gums bleed for improved oral hygiene.
The product is gluten-free and coated with natural candelilla wax. It comes in 30-meter lengths placed in a refillable, recyclable zero-waste glass container with a stainless steel lid. Complete with a built-in floss cutter, the glass jar comes packaged in a recyclable paper box.
Research from the American Dental Association highlights the importance of flossing to remove foot and plaque that toothbrushes fail to reach. Flossing every day is their recommendation to maintain your oral hygiene.
It may be easy for us to become somewhat jaded about the ecological dangers of dental floss when we stop thinking of the Texas-size island of waste plastic floating unassailably in the Pacific Ocean.
It's equally understandable to think that you are just one person and, in the face of the plastic-flossing habits of nearly eight billion people, what difference does it make if I use regular dental floss?
It makes a difference, first of all, because you are not alone. For each of us who adopts sustainable living, it's that much less plastic to pollute our planet. One first, small step in living a zero-waste life is in forsaking plastic-based floss.
Traditionally they make traditional dental floss of nylon which does not biodegrade. To be precise, it's estimated that nylon filaments will remain intact without breaking down for 500 years. It is also not recyclable.
We may find ourselves tempted to believe that floss, doled out and tossed in the trashcan or, often, into the toilet, isn't going to cause that much harm even if it isn't biodegradable.
Unfortunately, that is not the case. Americans use about 3 million miles worth of floss a year to get to those hard-to-reach areas between their teeth. When used floss gets flushed, it is small enough to escape many capture points in the water reclamation grid and, thus, it frequently ends up on fresh and oceanic waterways.
Aquatic wildlife frequently ingests these pieces of plastic. Because it does not break down in any creature's digestive tract, it inhibits and can kill animals who consume it.
What about that minty flavor that comes with most types of standard floss? That is actually fused to the filament with plastics, often through perfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). Science has linked these chemicals to numerous health issues, including certain cancers, elevated cholesterol, colitis, weight gain, and infertility.
On the other hand, you'll find the best zero-waste floss choices flavored naturally with peppermint oil or organic tea tree oil, which possesses antibacterial qualities perfect for dental health.
So, plastic floss is a synthetic material coated with suspect chemical compounds. Of course, they have to package it in something. Typically it comes in a plastic container. Yes, it's recyclable.
However, studies have shown that between 8-9% of plastics get recycled. That means 91 or 92% of those little plastic containers don't make it to recycling.
Ultimately, they aren't as pernicious as other plastic problems. Still, for perspective, it's worth noting that in an average year, the number of plastic floss containers in the US that don't make it to recycling would fill a football field to a height of six stories. Oh yes, that little plastic container—doesn't it come wrapped in a plastic blister pack?
By moving to a sustainable, zero-waste lifestyle when we choose eco-friendly dental floss, we each take one step toward saving our environment and ourselves.
Jen’s a passionate environmentalist and sustainability expert. With a science degree from Babcock University Jen loves applying her research skills to craft editorial that connects with our global changemaker and readership audiences centered around topics including zero waste, sustainability, climate change, and biodiversity.
Elsewhere Jen’s interests include the role that future technology and data have in helping us solve some of the planet’s biggest challenges.