Dumpster Diving

Illustration by Genna DeGroot, Creative Director at PLAN: Post-Landfill Action Network

I went on my first dumpster dive the other day. Now that I’ve done it, I think everyone should experience it. Nothing compares to being inside a dumpster and seeing first hand what people throw out. To learn more read my blog post over on The Sound.




We’ve all heard about the problem of plastics in the oceans but this video really shows the scale of the problem. It’s hard to watch. As an individual, the problem feels overwhelming. How could I do anything to help?

I am as guilty as anyone for using plastics on a daily basis. I try to do my part to limit my use. I started to notice how often I was throwing away dental floss containers. I thought — this could be a plastic habit I could break! I could just buy bulk dental floss. I did some research online but didn’t find much. I did find a bulk dental floss supplier out of Canada called Oralgem. It’s great that Oralgem offers this product but as you can see from the image below it is geared towards businesses and dental professionals. I want a solution I can use in my home.

ifloss-dispenser1While I was thinking about bulk dental floss dispensers, I was noticing the trend of using mason jars for just about everything. I already owned a couple of Cuppow lids. I thought — Why not combine the two? — Make a dental floss dispenser using a mason jar! All that is needed is a lid with one hole to allow the floss to come out and that little curved lip on which to cut the floss.

I reached out to both Cuppow and Oralgem. They were hugely supportive of the idea. Each of them even gave me free stuff to play with to see if I could engineer something myself.

UPDATE – My son sliced into a mason jar lid and then I slid the dispenser piece from store bought floss packaging into it. Voila! I’ve been using it like this for months. It works great! Totally doable by anyone with a little hacksaw.


That roll of floss is designed to last a family of four a full year. If you are a single person then it should last you four years. Think of all the plastic you won’t be tossing.

UPDATE – Oralgem graciously shared this post to get the word out. Also, they let me know they do offer a smaller home dispenser called Pearl. You can learn more about it here.

UPDATE #2 ( October 2017) — my dental hygienist just told me about Dental Lace. The company is located just up the road from me in Cape Elizabeth, Maine. The floss is 100% silk floss. It’s packaged in a refillable glass container with a metal top, and the packaging is recyclable. I hate to sound ridiculously salesy — but it is just what I was looking for.

dental lace

Below is a short video about Dental Lace starring zero waste advocate Lauren Singer.

And here is a super short video about the details of the product:

Your welcome.