THE trouble with alternatives is that they are often unpalatable. I mean, who in their right mind would choose processed cheese over the real thing, or Smash instead of real mashed potato, not to mention Pringles as a substitute for Kettle real potato chips.
But sometimes, albeit rarely, the alternative can be better than the original, as I discovered when I started making my own mouthwash and flushed Listerine out of my life.
Now, don’t ask me why I ever needed mouthwash in the first place. All I’m prepared to tell you is that my girlfriend at the time had a strong aversion to the smell of cigarette smoke.
But I continued to buy this wretched product even after I had stopped smoking (and been ditched by the girl!) Why?
I guess it was force of habit. But last year, when I had nothing better to read, I glanced at the back of the bottle and recoiled with horror.
I suddenly realized that, on a daily basis, I had been putting into my pretty little mouth stuff that nowadays I would wouldn’t even use to clean my toilet bowl.
If that wasn’t bad enough, it also crossed my mind that hauling bottles full of colored water half way across the country probably wasn’t doing my carbon footprint much good.
Do the math. Recommended dose 20ml twice daily for 20 years adds up to 292 liters. And for what!
So, if I have spat out my last ever mouthful of Listerine, what do I do now? The answer is sodium bicarbonate (baking soda), tap water, and peppermint oil. This is not my own special recipe; I got it from Frugally Sustainable (see sources below).
It takes about two minutes to make, lasts forever, and it tastes great. It really does. And although time constraints mean I haven’t yet done a comparative life cycle analysis, I just know that my home-made mouthwash is about 100 times less damaging to the environment than Listerine.
PS: If you want to know some of the gory details about Listerine (including the link with oral cancer ) there’s a well-researched entry in Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Listerine
The only glaring omission is the list of ingredients, tasty little items such as: propylene glycol (a neurotoxin commonly used in break fluid), poloxamer 407 (mostly used for cleaning contact lenses), sodium lauryl sulfate (an excellent engine degreaser), benzoic acid (often used in insect repellants), sodium benzoate (Parkinson’s, neuro-degenerative diseases, and premature aging have all been attributed to this infamous substance), methyl salicylate (a poison), sodium saccharin (possibly carcinogenic to humans), flavor (could be anything), and sucralose (reduces good gut bacteria).