Is Your Toothpaste Making Your Sushi Poisonous?


Recently, Plastic Diet, (a youth-led organisation dedicated to reducing single-use plastic waste and consumption) held a plastic-free July challenge, and as a blogger I was keen to be involved. Because things got pretty hectic for me there for a while I didn’t make it in time for July (sorry Plastic Diet!) but I did manage to do do a bit of a plastic-free August.

The focus of this challenge was more specifically part of their wider Beauty and the Bead campaign to introduce a legislative ban on microbeads in beauty and personal care products. I’ve already been on the lookout for microbeads in my skincare and beauty products (facial scrubs especially!) after reading Lena’s post about them a while ago, but hadn’t thought about toothpaste at all!

Microbeads are teey-tiny but are still too small to be filtered out by our water treatment systems – so they end up back in the ocean where sea creatures ingest them.¬†Microbeads don’t biodegrade either – so there’s just billions of tiny plastic beads accumulating in the ocean and going through sea creatures’ digestive systems.


Now this is the key part: microbeads absorb POPs (persistent organic pollutants) which are the kinds of chemicals you keep under the kitchen sink and in the garden shed. When fish and other creatures eat these things, the toxins are absorbed into their bodies, and so when we sit down to a seafood buffet we may be unwittingly consuming a bunch of motor oil and pesticides and other chemicals.

So really, even if you hate seafood, surely you don’t want to be putting that crap into our oceans. Importantly, you don’t want that crap in your body either – and microbeads hidden in toothpastes can get stuck deep in your gums, collecting bacteria and creating trouble for your teeth. If you’ve ever seen those little coloured speckles in your toothpaste, it’s pretty likely that those are microbeads.

So: read the packaging! Look out for polypropylene, nylon, polyethylene, polyethylene terephthalate, or polymethlyl methacrylate. Choose toothpastes and other products that don’t have ocean-polluting, teeth-harming, toxic-chemical-absorbing crap in them. Luckily for us, the choice is made pretty simple with these Lush Toothy Tabs which Plastic Diet have so kindly sent me to try out.


These tiny little green discs are pretty fun to use – you just kind of nibble one and crush it up a bit with your teeth, wet your toothbrush and away you go! I liked this lemon and lime flavour (but it could do with a little more zing!) and while I was worried it was going to be baking-soda-y and wouldn’t foam, it was definitely very foamy and left a pleasant sherbert-y flavour.

This would be a fun thing to try out with kids too because it’s a novel and eco-friendly way to brush your teeth. I was also really into the different types of Toothy Tabs Lush have on offer! They also have a rose, passionfruit and vanilla flavour (OMG) and classic spearmint flavour among other delcious-sounding things.

So, dear reader – did you know that there could be microbeads in your toothpaste? Will you try out Toothy Tabs? Let me know in the comments!

Hi! I'm Elese, a blogger/philosopher/dubious advice-giver/PhD student/MUA/designer lady based in Brisbane, Australia.
  • Yay for spreading the anti-microbead word! That flavour sounds nice, and so does the rose one.

    • yeah i really want to try the rose one! This one was like those little sherbert fizz lollies you get at the supermarket but slighlty more baking soda-y x

  • ok I had never heard of toothy tabs but I feel like i would definitely accidentally swallow them?

    • haha nah mate you just gotta very deliberately chomp down on them first between your front teeth then they start dissolving/foaming like a bath bomb pretty much x

  • Amy

    Urgh, I hate microbeads with a passion. I’ve yet to try the tabs but I want to, I remember when I was a kid my parents had this powder toothpaste which I imagine would feel similar and it left your mouth feeling so clean. | Amy x

    • Sameee! Yeah, I was impressed with how clean my mouth felt! I wonder if you could make your own powder-based toothpaste? I’m gonna google haha xx