Arron Wood

Sustainable Business and Education Leader

CAN TOOTHPASTE TUBES BE RECYCLED?

I’m still here!

As some of you may have noticed, I haven’t posted a blog for a while. For those of you who have missed my green musings, I’m sorry for my absence, but I’m thrilled to tell you that I’m back!

I’m looking forward to regularly keeping you up to date with environmental news, tidbits and fun facts throughout the year, especially since now that I’m Deputy Lord Mayor I have stepped down from my role as Chair of the Environment Portfolio. Over the past four years I have thoroughly enjoyed working with Council to implement strategies and policies that effectively reduce carbon emissions, increase canopy cover and improve resilience for generations into the future.

And because I've been working in the environmental sector for 17 years I can't completely let go, despite the new role at City of Melbourne. 

It’s been a bit busier than usual since being elected as Deputy Lord Mayor. While an exciting learning curve - including the occasional stints as Acting Lord Mayor (really should have taken improv classes in a former life) – this has been an unexpected start to the year. The Bourke Street Mall tragedy is one of the worst things I have ever witnessed and it will not be forgotten for a long time. However, the way we came together as a city to support and help each other has also been overwhelming. The emotional Thank You video published from Ambulance Victoria is an important reminder that more often than not, we are united for the better.

On an unrelated note, let’s talk about toothpaste. Everybody’s morning ritual is different but there is one unavoidable fact: our non-biodegradable toothpaste tubes. The average person is expected to use 389 tubes of toothpaste in their lifetime. And each of these tubes is going to sit in landfill without ever breaking down. With a population of 22 million and growing, let’s just take a moment to think about what that looks like for Australia alone. In short, imagine that your lifetime supply of toothpaste is the whole aisle at the local supermarket, and it’s sitting in landfill. To add to that, imagine the millions of people before you who have already made their lifetime contribution of toothpaste tubes and they’re all sitting in landfill, waiting to be discovered by an archaeologist in the future.

It’s a scary thought, isn’t it? I’m not going to lie; stopping and thinking about just how much non-biodegradable rubbish there is in landfill is daunting. It is a worry to consider just what kind of world we are leaving behind.

Now, some people are going to tell you to ditch your toothpaste and start making your own. That’s not everyone’s cup of tea, and to be honest it’s not mine either. Life is busy enough without adding this to your list of things to do.

Luckily, this is not a head in the sand situation. Instead, you can start recycling those toothpaste tubes and breathe a sigh of relief that it’s at least 300 less toothpaste tubes in landfill.

Terracycle is a recycling company that recycles our waste that we normally think can’t be recycled. This includes all those binders in your office that you got rid of after you went paperless, those pesky coffee pods you have a love/hate relationship with, and or course, toothpaste tubes. They even take your old dental floss boxes and toothbrushes. It is all a bit too convenient, isn’t it?

If you can believe it, Terracycle gets even better because they also offer schools and not-for-profits an opportunity to get cash payments for every contribution made. Talk about a total win-win: you can feel good diverting a whole school’s worth of toothpaste tubes from landfill while also earning points for money!

There was a time when it was difficult to pick up my toothpaste without feeling a little twinge of guilt. It is a huge challenge to lead an entirely waste-free life, but we can all start somewhere. If we all pitch in we can make a big difference cutting down on rubbish, one item at a time.

For more details about Terracycle, and how to recycle your toothpaste tubes check out their website here: http://www.terracycle.com.au/en-AU

 *This is not an advertorial. I was not approached by Terracycle to write this, nor do I have any affiliation with their company. But I do use toothpaste and I do want to make sure it doesn’t all end up in landfill.