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Customer calls out dental hygiene product over suspicious packaging detail: 'I'm thinking this is completely misleading'

"Is this a con?"

PP Greenwashing companies products are biodegradable

Photo Credit: iStock

An exasperated Reddit user on the r/ZeroWaste subreddit recently posted about a package of "plant-based" floss picks they bought — after the product's claims made them skeptical.

r/ZeroWaste is a community for sharing eco-friendly products and hacks so users can reduce their impact on the environment. A biodegradable flosser would be right up the subreddit's alley, as past posts have tackled hygiene products like razors, lotion, and shower gear.

However, that doesn't seem to be what this Redditor has found. Their post includes photos of a box of flossers from The Humble Co., with phrases on the package like "plant-based materials," "eco-friendly," "vegan," "loved by nature," "kind to our planet," and "100% recyclable." 

But closer inspection reveals that the flosser is partly made of polyethylene and "PP" — a term that confuses the original poster.

"Is this a con? Wtf is '30% PP?'" they ask. "I'm thinking that this is completely misleading and I won't be able to put it in the compost! The Humble Co. website lists the ingredients as 'cornstarch and PP mix' but conveniently doesn't explain what PP is."

One commenter chimes in with an unfortunate answer. "Polypropylene (PP) is one of the most commonly used thermoplastics in the world … Looks like that is not biodegradable."

A third user offers a detailed breakdown of why The Humble Co. is allowed to print such misleading packaging. 

"Plant-based =/= biodegradable," they point out. "Everything they say on the packaging is true. Starch is plant-based, possibly also the PP they use. But they never claimed to be biodegradable." 

The fine print also reveals that the "100% recyclable" claim only applies to the cardboard box the flossers come in. 

"It is greenwashing all the way down, but they didn't lie," the user writes.

Greenwashing — when companies try to appear eco-friendly as a marketing tactic, without actually making any significant changes — can be misleading to those trying to live a more environmentally friendly lifestyle. Thankfully, r/ZeroWaste has several flossing suggestions that really do help the environment.

"I buy these compostable picks from Free the Ocean!" says one commenter. 

"Get yourself a floss holder," another user suggests. "Yes, it's plastic, but it's one and done, and probably buy it for life."

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