Daily habits - mouthing off

by Carolyn Chase
s "creatures of habit" we automatically become used to the ways we do things, and just keep doing them without thinking. Then, every so often, if we're lucky, something wakes us up to something new and worthwhile.
This happened to me a couple of weeks ago when Kari Gray at San Diego Earth Day started talking to me about a slightly touched and excited guy named Mark and his company, EcoDenT. A few days later, a box of samples showed up in the mail. The samples were of tooth powder and vegan dental floss in a cute little origami-like paper box.
My first reaction was ...vegan dental floss?
That's right, vegan, as in absolutely no animal products.
I didn't know dental floss wasn't vegan - not that I ever thought about it at all. Well my eco-lesson for the day was in discovering the little-known fact that most dental floss is coated with beeswax. Even the Earth Times' resident vegan eco-purist Bob Nanninga will use a bit of beeswax now and then.
But wait, there's more. "Gentle-Floss" is the only floss not being sold in a plastic container. Its paperboard container also holds 75 yards instead of the standard 50.

Take a powder

So, how about tooth powder vs. toothpaste? Evidently each year Americans throw away more than 400 million toothpaste tubes, squandering about 7.5 million pounds of plastic and aluminum packaging. The tube caps add another 1.25 million plastic bits. The plastic tooth powder dispensers, on the other hand, are refilled from a paperboard box, like a small milk carton, and hold up to 200 applications..
Tooth powder costs only 3 cents per brushing, compared with up to 15 cents per brushing with leading brands. One 3 oz. bottle of Eco-DenT can outlast 6 tubes of toothpaste and can be refilled.
Eco-DenT tooth powder is reported to be 2.14 times less abrasive than Colgate Toothpaste with MFP fluoride, while being more effective at hardening dental enamel - even though Eco-DenT is a non-fluoride product. Eco-DenT is also 2.3 times more effective at inhibiting the binding of new plaque than Tom's of Maine paste.
So, using tooth powder is less expensive (both environmentally and economically) and is better for your mouth, teeth and gums than your average toothpaste.
I'm trying this stuff out. So far, so good. Enlightenment like this can change action. It's been easy to change. When I shake the tooth powder on my brush, I realize how I had just been conditioned to a paste as the "natural" way. I feel much better accomplishing the same task using less stuff in the process and improving my mouth care at the same time.

Put your money where our mouth is

But back to why Kari brought it to me.... Mark was also interested in helping local Earth Day groups. For each household that redeems the coupon at below, San Diego Earth Day will receive 50¢, in addition to the 50¢ off the customer receives on the products. Eco-DenT is available at natural food stores and many grocery stores, and the coupon is good through May 31st.
So get out there and give it a try, and let us know what you think. For yourself, the environment and San Diego Earth Day, this is one habit change that is easy and makes sense and cents all around.
Carolyn Chase is Executive Director of San Diego Earth Day and The Earth Day Network and recipient of the mayor's 1994 Spirit of San Diego award.