Discover Harmful Microplastics in Toothpaste and How to Avoid Them
By Rachel Francesca Limonciello
Safety. It’s something we all yearn for.
Security systems for our home, safe vehicles to drive, face masks to protect us from germs… the list goes on. Safety is always on our minds. Especially when the safety of our family is at risk.
- Is this product safe for my family?
- Is this product healthy and good for the world?
- Will this product cause harm to my children or future generations?
What about safety when it comes to the environment or personal care products? It may be surprising but, there are many ingredients in the products we use. These ingredients are harmful to ourselves and the environment.
What we will discuss in this article is one ingredient that has snuck into your favorite toothpaste… you guessed it, plastic!
Microplastics Are Added to Your Toothpaste
Yes, you read that last sentence right, there are still traces of plastic in many toothpaste products as you read this article today.
So what’s so bad about plastic being in our toothpaste?
Is it really that big of a deal?
The answer is yes, it’s a big deal. Microplastics in toothpaste are dangerous for the environment and our health. Some toxins in plastics are linked to cancers, birth defects, immune system problems, and childhood developmental issues.
The impact on oceans is severe. The massive plastic build-up causes severe disruption to the natural flow of the ecosystem in the ocean.
You may be thinking, “It’s 2021, how is there still plastic in our toothpaste!? Something we use every day, on average twice a day!” We agree.
We cannot control what manufacturers add to their ingredient list. But, we can encourage our readers to do their part by consciously choosing plastic-free toothpaste brands.
The world we live in isn’t 100% plastic-free. Organizations such as ours work tirelessly at educating people on the bad effects plastic has on our ecosystems and beautiful oceans. We believe we’re a little closer each and every day to a plastic-free world.
So let’s get down to the nitty-gritty. Inquiring minds ask – and we answer – what are microplastics? Why are microplastics added to toothpaste? What is the difference between microbeads and microplastics? Keep reading to find the answers to these questions and more.
What Are Microplastics and Microbeads?
When thinking about plastic polluting the oceans, you think of plastic containers like water bottles or cleaning product containers. These forms of plastic should be avoided by using the alternatives discussed in this article.
What most people don’t know, is that microplastics exist in tiny forms within items we use daily – such as our toothpaste. It’s important to educate ourselves on how microplastics harm our environment and our health.
Microbeads and Microplastics
Both microbeads and microplastics are compounds of plastic. Microplastic refers to all types of tiny plastic particles smaller than 5mm. Microbeads are a type of microplastic whose main function is to scrub or exfoliate.
Both Microbeads and microplastics are commonly found in cosmetics and personal care products. Microbeads are especially convenient for manufacturers to use as exfoliators because of their grain-like consistency.
So why are microplastics added to toothpaste? Simple, because it’s a cheap ingredient filler.
Having microplastics in products like toothpaste is a problem because they flow straight from the bathroom drain into the sewer systems. Wastewater treatment plants don’t filter them out AND these plastics don’t biodegrade – which is why microplastics are filling up our oceans.
What’s worse is sea animals will either absorb or eat the microplastics.
The ecosystem is a cause-and-effect system. Studies show that humans, at the top of the food chain, eat microplastics while consuming seafood like salmon or cod. Yuck!
What’s even worse is microplastics are not biodegradable. Once they enter the ocean, they take much effort and resources to remove. Ocean Blue Project goes to great lengths to remove these microplastics from the ocean. Stopping the problem from the root by reducing the amount of plastic going into the oceans is our goal.
Using toothpaste that contains microplastics puts the ocean, ourselves, and our children at grave risk!
Where Can I Find Plastic-Free Toothpaste?
You may be wondering where you can buy plastic-free toothpaste. The good news is, there are several environmentally friendly brands manufacturing microplastic-free toothpaste.
Plastic-Free Toothpaste Retailers
Here are a few truly plastic-free brands:
- Bite Toothpaste
- Unpaste Tooth Tabs
- Toothpaste by Humankind
- Hello Toothpaste
- Georganics Toothpaste Tablets
- The Dirt Tooth Powder
For even more plastic-free toothpaste brands check out this database. They update the site every day with new brands so check back often.
Read the Ingredients
The only way to be sure your toothpaste is microplastic-free is by reading the ingredient list. Some brands claim to be plastic-free but parts of the packaging such as the cap may be made of polypropylene fibers – which are in fact plastic. Sneaky, right?
Pro tip – if a product label includes the ingredients polypropylene or polyethylene on its label there are plastic microbeads contained in the product.
Many brands use buzz words such as “natural” or “organic.” These are greenwashing techniques. It’s important to read ingredients to be sure harmful ingredients, such as microplastics, are not used in your toothpaste. And look out for other personal care products such as shower gels, face scrubs, and exfoliating body scrubs as these usually contain microbeads.
Small changes certainly add up. Over 8 million tons of plastic flow into our oceans each year. That’s an overwhelming amount of plastic. The changes you make each day contribute to less environmental damage. It may not seem like much to you, but every little bit is one step closer to a sustainable ecosystem.
How You Can Help Reduce Plastic Waste
Remaining safe in the world we live in is not easy. It takes research to ensure you’re doing all you can to help yourself and your family remain safe. Although it requires some effort, the benefits certainly outweigh the work.
It’s smart to read about the next car you will buy to make sure your family is safe while on the road. So too, learning about topics like microplastics in toothpaste being harmful to you and the environment requires action.
At Ocean Blue Project, we are committed to removing 1 million tons of plastic and debris from the ocean by 2025. How do we get there? With your help.
A fun and easy way to help is to organize a beach clean-up near you. If you don’t live near a beach, no problem! Put together a clean-up for your local river or lake. Any body of water you help clean has a huge impact.
Second, switch to plastic-free toothpaste – and any other body care product you want. Our stunning oceans deserve to function in the way they were designed to — without the poison of plastic. Our bodies will also thank us for avoiding diseases caused by microplastic build-up.
Once you know about microplastics in toothpaste, it’s hard not to share with others. Let your friends and family know about our mission at Ocean Blue Project by sharing this blog with them. And stay up to date by signing up for our newsletter and reading our blog.
Author Bio: Rachel is a freelance copywriter located in the Chicago suburbs. She enjoys writing on subjects that educate people such as environmental issues, overall wellness, and clean beauty.