Recycling Old Toothbrushes - a challenge


Who would have thought we could recycle something like an old toothbrush? And who would have thought they would be such a waste problem - found in the ocean and washed up on beaches worldwide? It's crazy that things like this can end up in the sea and on tropical beaches!

Toothbrushes may be a tiny part of the waste problem facing the world - but every small step helps and this is one step our younger daughter has decided to take through her school.

Recycling the Unrecyclable

A couple of years ago I found a company called Terracycle that recycles things that are normally considered 'unrecyclable' - They started out in the US, but are now also in many other countries worldwide, including Australia.

One of the recycling programmes they have is for recycling used oral care products - such as old toothbrushes and toothpaste tubes.  You can sign up to collect, and they provide free shipping for you to send them the waste for which you are then rewarded with points and ultimately money and prizes for schools and charities.

2016 Oral Care Recycling Challenge

So this year, our younger daughter has set up a challenge at her school to try and collect as much oral care product waste as possible - keep it out of landfill and send it to Terracycle to be recycled into something useful.
To encourage her fellow students to collect this waste and bring it to school she set up a competition between the school 'houses' to see who could collect the most.

She took 4 large cardboard boxes, 
and painted and transformed them into 4 boxes representing large coloured toothpaste tubes - one for each house, with a clear window at the front so you can see the collection progress.

These boxes have now been sitting in the school office for one school term. She has promoted this competition in assembly, to both students and parents, has created a poster and taken the request up to the high school to ask them to collect too, and also sent a collection box to her school's second campus so they can also start collecting.

Today I went in with my daughter to help her weigh each house's collection and prepare the first shipment to be sent to Terracycle.

Overall the total collection was almost 2.5 kg which is pretty good I think, That's 2.5 kg of oral care waste kept out of landfill and that will now be recycled to create something new and useful.

The results have been posted above the boxes and will hopefully spur everyone on to collect more over the holidays and next term to bring their house tally up!

So here's the first shipment all packaged up and ready to send off.

Oh No!

It was frustrating to see that even in a small collection like this -  with clear posters and instructions about what was being recycled, that all of this non-oral care product waste was also placed into the boxes.

But I guess the whole point is education so this is just another step in my daughter's challenge to encourage more recycling at her school.  She now has to work on making people more aware and clearer about what this particular recycling programme involves and can accept.

A Great Learning Experience

I'm very proud of our daughter for taking on this project and doing her part to make a difference. She's not just learning about environmental issues, problems and possible solutions, but she's also learning about managing a large project - dealing with various people, advertising, promotion and ongoing project management. Such a great learning opportunity and experience.

She is learning that you can have a great idea but to put that idea into practice takes a lot of hard work, persistence, and constant learning. She is also learning how a large project needs help from other people - you can't do everything yourself.

It will be interesting to watch the progress and development of this challenge throughout the year.

How about you? 

Have your kids ever taken on a large project like this either at school or somewhere else?  Do you have any experiences or advice to share?

Please leave a comment below - or on our Facebook page

And do keep coming back for more updates on this recycling challenge - and plenty of other things we're doing to try and 
Be Our Best!

Try Something New 2016 - Week 12

This past week the girls' grandparents arrived from the UK for a visit. They come out most years and stay for a few weeks, which is always a fun time.

Whenever they are here, Euan and I take the opportunity to head out for dinner and some time without the kids leaving the girls and grandparents to enjoy each other's company.

Usually when we go out, my parents cook dinner for the girls and they play games.  This time, as the girls are a bit older, they cooked dinner for Granny and Granddad!

They just did a simple meal with chicken vegetables and a jar of simmer sauce, all on rice.

The girls have cooked this or other meals for Euan and I before, but this was the first time they had cooked a meal for someone else.

All went smoothly and a wonderful evening was had by all.

What new thing did you or your kids try this week?

Try something new 2016 - Week 11

This week when we had our weekly trip to the markets for fruit and vegetables, our younger daughter spotted some pink guavas and asked if we could get some to try as she hadn't seen them before. 
So we did - and they were very tasty.

Have you ever tried Pink Guava?  

What new thing did you try this week?

Try something new 2016 - week 10

This week our new thing to try was something very simple - making our own pancakes.

Growing up I remember we had pancakes every year for dessert on Pancake Tuesday. My mum would mix up the batter and we'd spend a lovely family evening cooking, tossing and eating pancakes covered either with golden syrup or sugar and lemon.

It's always something I've meant to do with our girls but haven't yet got around to it.

Last Friday our youngest asked if we had any pancake mix, as she'd had that at a friend's house a couple of weeks ago for breakfast and wondered if we could have that too.
No pancake mix but yes we did have flour, egg and milk, so I made up a quick batch of batter and pancakes for breakfast it was!

The girls were impressed when they saw me tossing the pancakes just like they'd seen on TV!

The left over pancakes were rolled and packed in lunchboxes!

Next time the girls are going to try making the pancakes themselves - and tossing them too!

What new thing did you try this week?

Try something new 2016 - week 9

This week, we had a new place to visit together as a family here in Cairns.
Crystal Cascades.
Euan and I had been there just once 12 years ago when our eldest was just a baby, but haven't taken both girls there or visited ourselves since. It's a very popular freshwater swimming place with lots of rocks, pools and small waterfalls and slides. Great fun and a lovely cool place to be in summer.

What new thing or place did you try or visit this week?

That Sugar Film review

Yesterday I watched this movie and just loved it! I've been wanting to see it for a while and just discovered it was on Beamafilm - an Australian independent movie streaming site for documentaries and real story movies. It has some great films to watch and best of all, we get free access with our library membership!

I've watched a couple of other sugar documentaries before, and this one has basically the same message and information as those, but I felt this one was told in a fun and interesting manner - capturing attention with some great effects, cameo appearances by famous actors and a personal story.

Damon, the star of the film, cut sugar from his diet several years ago, but embarks on a journey to see the effects on his body of eating 40 teaspoons of sugar (160 g) of sugar daily for 60 days.  160 g sounds like a lot - but he ate this daily without having cakes, biscuits, chocolates or fizzy drinks. This was just from added sugars in cereals, bars, yoghurts and basically processed foods!

160 g may sound like a lot in a day, but it really isn't.  After the first sugar documentary I watched, I kept a record for just one day for our family to see how much sugar we ate. We each had an average of about 75 g per day, and I think we eat pretty healthily - although we do have cakes and biscuits every day! Just being aware of how much sugar was in our diet has made us think more about the choices we are making when it comes to what to eat!

But back to the film. Over the space of 60 days, Damon did not really change the amount of calories he ate compared to his normal diet, but he put on several kilos in weight, simply by changing the source of a lot of those calories to sugar.  But the sugar didn't just have an affect on his weight, it also affected his health; both physical and mental.

It was shocking to see him demonstrate the amount of sugar in some things, by representing it with plain teaspoons of sugar. For example he compared a bowl of packaged cereal to a bowl of a couple of Vita Brits (which have no added sugar) with the equivalent amount of sugar on top - a seemingly huge amount when represented in this way.

Seeing the story of an 18 year old American guy who was about to have all his teeth removed because they were so decayed and dentures put in after years of fizzy drinks, was shocking. Particularly since he said he will continue to drink fizzy drinks!

I believe the movie managed to convey a strong message about the damage that sugar is doing to not just our bodies, but our minds too and our society. 
It also touched on the fact that the sugar industry is encouraging the consumerism and instant gratification mindset that society has developed over the past few decades which is potentially damaging financially, socially and in terms of health.

I personally really enjoy chocolate, cakes and sweet treats but try to eat them in moderation.  Watching these sugar documentaries has made me want to try going sugar free, even just for a short time - perhaps a month.  I'm not yet convinced to go sugar free completely, but you never know how I might feel after a short term trial!

Do you eat much sugar?  Do your kids?

I would definitely recommend this movie to watch, and I will watch it again with our girls. It is so important to understand what we're eating and putting into our bodies, so we can make our own informed choices for a healthy diet.

Try Something New 2016 - week 8

Last week when I was writing our weekly grocery shopping list I asked everyone, as I always do, if there was anything special they would like me to buy.  This time our youngest daughter asked for some goat's cheese!  She'd heard about it and wanted to try it!
So I got some for her..

She had it on crackers for her lunch at the weekend and loved it!

Another new thing to try - again for our youngest this week was making electrical circuits.  She's made a start on these at school, so understood the basic idea. We used a book I had used as a kid too, which is has some neat projects to make in it.

She learned how to strip a wire and connect the ends to a battery pack and bulb. She also then made a switch to add to the circuit using a paper clip and 2 split pins.

One final kind of new thing we did this week was an adventure obstacle course trail run. We'd done it last year and I'd run the 30 minute course with our girls. This year they ran it by themselves, and I moved up to the 60 minute course.
They had great fun getting wet and muddy - we'll be going back again next year for sure!

What new things did you and your family try this week?  Any new foods eaten or places visited?
We'd love to hear your experiences.
Leave us a comment and tell us all about it!

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