The Canadian dental association recommends that we floss once a day to avoid tartar build up.
"In 1994, Americans used more than 2.5 million miles of dental floss, the equivalent of circling the earth more than 100 times." (Made how)
The problem for us - and our plastic-free mission - is that dental floss contains nylon and in some cases Teflon. Nylon is petroleum based and we're not sure it ever decomposes because it's not found in nature and therefore microbes (those essential organisms that turn waste back into soil) do not 'eat it'. Teflon - once the belle of the cookware ball - has similar challenges and there are also some potential health concerns.
Lastly, dental floss is typically housed in a plastic dispenser - also petroleum based and non-biodegradable.
After battling with a few different options we landed on 30 metre spools of 100% mulberry peace silk, housed in a glass dispenser with a stainless steel lid and floss cutter. Sounds good right? Well, some folks love it, but others may challenge our use of silk, with valid concerns.
Well, in choosing our floss, we tested a number of options. The bamboo floss we researched isn't typically plastic-free. Bamboo on its own isn't strong enough, so it’s typically laced with polyester; a step up from ordinary nylon floss, but not ideal because polyester is petroleum based and it doesn't decompose.
Corn floss sounded interesting, but our resident flossing geeks (we're looking at you, Michelle) came back with a resounding no when it broke apart super easily (as corn might), but it was so thick that it irritated their gums. Game over? Hold up, partner.
Then we tried some Ahimsa Mulberry Silk Floss. Great strength, decent thickness and lovely taste.
We finished it off with a glass jar to complete this plastic-free floss alternative.
From a performance, biodegradability and style perspective it seems to have a hit the mark. Check out these comments:
"It's simple (refill packaging), elegant (the refillable container), sustainable, healthy, and makes a boring chore exciting!" (Elle M)
"It works really well. I’ve only used one type of synthetic floss that works better! I love this stuff." (Joseph C)"
"love it! It makes me enjoy flossing more. For me the best part is: it looks like a message in a glass bottle. So delicate!" (Rebecca Liu)
Silk's Dark Side
BUT, despite the good vibes, there is always a tradeoff to every decision a company makes - here's ours.
"How is replacing product with SILK and Beeswax more environmentally sound than plastic!!!
Aren't you supposed to be an ETHICAL COMPANY?
How is furthering the exploitation of animals better than plastic waste when there are options that are neither plastic nor barbaric?"
Silk comes from a worm and the production of the silk typically results in the death of the silk worm. It's a centuries old practice, but does that make it right? AND, is it maybe time to alter that practice?
We searched for an option that avoided this nasty fate.
We landed on what is known as Ahimsa silk, also known as peace silk, which avoids the boiling of the silk worms in their pods. Although this 'sounds good', our next QC measure is to get detailed documentation that is more specific as to our supplier's process so that we can share a step by step with all of you!
We think we made the best choice with the options we had available, but we're always looking to improve and find even better alternatives - hemp being one of the suggestions. What do you think? What would you do if you were us?
Curious as to what the fuss is all about? Check out our floss here.