Students are asking for used toothbrushes and votes in a nationwide competition set to divert hundreds of thousands of plastic products from landfill.
Accepted oral care waste includes: any brand of post-consumed toothpaste tubes and caps, non-electric toothbrushes and packaging, toothbrush and toothpaste tube outer packaging and floss containers.
New South Wales struggles to deal with growing mountains of waste, students at Armidale Secondary College are working hard to ensure all their oral care waste is diverted from landfill and recycled.
The school is working with TerraCycle in the Colgate Community Garden Challenge with hopes of winning a recycled community garden set. To help them win, they're asking their community to hand over their old toothbrushes, toothpaste tubes and floss containers and vote online for their school.
Run by Colgate, Chemist Warehouse and global recycling pioneers, TerraCycle, The Colgate Community Garden Challenge invites pre-schools, primary and secondary schools nationwide to collect all brands of oral care waste and send it to TerraCycle who will turn it into new products.
Running from February to September, the competition encourages schools to learn about sustainability by seeing how waste that would normally be sent to landfill, can be given a second life and made into a new product such as a garden bed.
Five recycled community garden sets will be awarded to five schools, with each set including: three garden beds, two custom-made benches, three customised garden plaques made from recycled oral care waste, plus a $500 gardening voucher to buy seeds and plants.
Besides showing how recycled materials can be used as a sustainable alternative to virgin plastic, Colgate, Chemist Warehouse and TerraCycle hope the sets will promote gardening and healthy eating among schools.
Bridget Labrosse, a Science and Agriculture teacher at Armidale Secondary College wants to raise awareness about recycling and help her students win the community garden set as an excellent learning tool.
"Recycling is a lifelong skill that is so important to be teaching the next generation," said Miss Labrosse. "The Colgate Community Garden Challenge gives our students the opportunity to recycle everyday objects such as empty toothpaste tubes and toothbrushes in order to win a prize that will teach students about ecosystems, plants and habitats. It's a fantastic programme!"
The Armidale community is encouraged to drop their used oral care products at Armidale Secondary School to be recycled, and vote for them every day online.
Colgate is thrilled to be giving kids the opportunity to win a recycled community garden set for the second time. Hearing about the extraordinary efforts of the kids to recycle all their oral care waste and promote sustainability in their communities is something we expect to see a lot more of this year," said Mrs Dillon.
Mr Tascone from Chemist Warehouse said, "This is open to all young Australian students, this exciting initiative helps to educate kids about the importance of recycling, up-cycling and keeping as much waste out of landfill as possible."
"At TerraCycle, we like to think of creative ways to solve the waste crisis," said Jean Bailliard, General Manager of TerraCycle Australia & New Zealand.
"By giving Australian kids the chance to take the lead on recycling on behalf of their school and community, we're getting them to think outside the box and, at the same time, encouraging sustainability for the future."
Additionally, in monthly prize draws, schools will have the chance to win a pack of 60 upcycled pencil cases made from recycled toothpaste tubes - another example of how oral care waste can become a valuable new product.
The Colgate Community Garden Challenge is part of the broader Oral Care Recycling Program sponsored by Colgate. Since its launch in 2014, the program has enabled Australians to divert over 700,000 pieces of oral care waste from landfill and raise over $12,000 for schools and charities.