Okay, so you're packed. You've made choices about your tent, your sleeping pad. Heck, you've even planned out your route and handed off the information to someone you care about.
Getting ready, I'm sure you've heard the expression:
"If you can pack it in, you can pack it out"
People love saying that sentence. Its catchy, and it makes so much sense. There is nothing worse than getting out to the wild and finding yourself surrounded by remnants of those who tread the path before you. There's just zero reason why any of us should need to leave an environmental footprint behind (unless of course, you're walking on soft earth...which in that case a footprint might be kind of difficult to avoid leaving behind you).
There are many articles out there that can help you come up with clever ways of ensuring you pack up all of your rubbish. There are plenty of tips and tricks about the kind of foods to pack, the materials needed for cleaning, etc. etc.
I want to talk about something else though.
Dental hygiene while backpacking.
Its funny, but I feel like a lot of people forget about how toothpaste can impact the wilderness.
Back when I used to tree plant throughout Northern British Columbia, we would set up things called "bush-camp". These locations saw anywhere from twenty to one hundred and twenty dirty, achy, humans all clumped together in an area to live amongst the trees.
A lot of people in the tree planting profession are considerate about the wild. For the most part, we were always great about litter hitting the trash. And even if there were those amongst us who would just drop their garbage on the ground, at the end of a contract when we were about to leave, we would do the most thorough sweep of the earth around us.
No piece of trash was too small to bend over and pick up. I remember cleaning up little bits of confetti glitter that had tipped out of a bag earlier in the month one time.
While doing these mega clean up's, what I found was that while a lot of people were mindful to ensure that they recycled properly, sorted food into compost and reduced their plastic use -- there was a lot of fluoride hitting the ecosystems around us without any thought to their impact.
Toothpaste is a little nasty-nast that lasts. You can always see when someone has been in a spot and spitting their toothpaste willy nilly around their site. Not only is this bad practice for bear safety, it is also just poor practice for general care of the wild scenery around you.
PRO-TIP: If you are going to spit around your own tent, wash it down and out and around. Pour some water on the spot you've spit and clean up after yourself, you animal!
There are environmental benefits to natural toothpaste -- like wilderness environment. But there are also benefits to your own personal natural environment. Some of those chemicals used, while very incredible for keeping a white shiny smile, actually aren't all that hot for your subtler system.
So anyway, after that little prelude -- I would like to welcome you to my quick list of:
Natural Toothpastes that Actually Aren't All that Gross!
Righto! So, here we go -- as the title implies, I am trying to recommend toothpastes that are a nice consistency, work well and will let you rest easy while you reflect on your environmental impact. As always, if you are prepping for your ASCEND backpacking tour or cabin retreat you can contact us with any questions or thoughts you have that come up through the packing and reading process. Follow the links or shop around at your local stores! Either way works, but do give some thought to it all!
No harsh abrasives. Free of aggressive chemicals that can blind your pituitary gland with a thin film. Good for the earth, good for you. I like this Himalaya Bontanique brand because it foams in a way that is usually forfeited when it comes to natural toothpastes.
The one thing I will say for this toothpaste is that it is definitely worth it to invest in a toothbrush that is not too soft. Why, you ask? Well, because when you switch to a gentle, natural toothpaste -- you loose a lot of the kick that exists in the aggressive cleaning chemicals.
Like I said above, if you're going to forego the harsh chemicals in your system and the natural environment around you -- you are going to want a quality toothbrush. I'm recommending purchasing a bamboo toothbrush for your backpacking and camping trips because I have both found toothbrushes that have been left behind, and also left a toothbrush behind myself.
Come to think of it -- the 6 pack isn't a bad idea either because you can pack a couple of them for each trip.
I like the concept of a toothbrush that breaks down and decomposes because in the event that one does get left behind, your blunder is guilt free.
If you don't go with the N-omboo brand in particular but you are feeling inspired to get yourself a bamboo brush, make sure that the bristles you buy are hard! The back of your teeth will love you for it!
I love this dental floss! Eco-friendly dental care has never looked so good though, right? The stainless steel container is reusable, so you just order a refill and you're good to go again. This is a nice alternative to the synthetic string in pharmacies because its good for the earth and it also doesn't compromise on quality of care. A lot of times when you use an eco-friendly dental floss the issue is that the string just busts apart as soon as you approach your tight teeth.
This silk floss is vegan friendly and the wax coating makes it a nice alternative. You'll find that its not the same as your usual dental floss, so don't expect that of it. Its a natural alternative and good natural alternative for going backpacking with!
Sometimes brand loyalty makes sense. I like PUTYSUUN because I know the product is going to last and also, they have a little drainage hole on their bamboo cases! Again, I recommend the bamboo because in the event that you leave behind your gear, you can rest assured that this little baby will break down after a few years of being exposed to the wild conditions.
This brand is a little more expensive, but I do feel like its worth it. So often we spend money on products that are neither ethically produced or environmentally sustainable. PUTYSUUN satisfies both of those needs and I'm down to support that kind of corporate vibe. Keep your toothbrush nice a clean, control what its touching and know that your product is good for you and the earth!
Shop around! Browse your options. These are some helpful hints to being an eco-friendly and sustainable backpacker or camper. You do not need to purchase these products exactly and I encourage you to shop around for what makes sense for you. I do recommend these products only because I know what I like!
Happy shopping and happy hiking!