The Floss You Can Toss

Photo: istockphoto.com/dashek
Don't try this with any dental floss!

When separating the garbage, what do you do with your dental floss? Is the drug-store kind biodegradable? Compostable?

Well, most dental floss is made from nylon or Teflon and the thread is coated with waxes to ease your path to healthy gums. This super-strong thread won't degrade so it shouldn't be flushed down your toilet. It can contribute to a blockage in the pipe between the sewer and your home.

In some Canadian municipalities, discarded floss is also jamming pumps at sewage-treatment facilities.

It also cannot be composted or recycled. So that leaves us with daily strips of wasted plastic!

Is there an alternative?

Native Americans used yucca-leaf fibres to make dental floss, but today, manufacturers such as Radius are making natural flosses from silk that will biodegrade in a landfill and perhaps even in the compost in your yard.

Radius is available at Whole Foods locations in Canada and at various health-food stores throughout North American. However, some environmentalists and animal-rights activists ask consumers not to buy flosses made from silk because silk production can have a negative effect on insects.


Another alternative is to use DenTek Natural Floss Picks, the first sustainable, 100% biodegradable/recyclable floss pick. Well, 100% is a tad misleading as the floss, which cannot be composted/recycled, makes up 0.3% of the total product weight. Quite insignificant. The handle is made of starches from sustainable American crops like tapioca, potatoes and wheat. It's just as durable as petroleum-based plastic, but decomposes in less than 180 days in commercial composting facilities.

Now there's no reason to choose your eco passion over a healthy smile!