How to Recycle with TerraCycle and Tom's of Maine

By Mali Anderson in Thinking Sustainably

When you participate in the Tom's of Maine Natural Care Recycling Program, you are taking a healthy step toward sustainable living. The program is in partnership with TerraCycle, an organization that creates recycling and upcycling solutions. Their goal is to make zero waste an attainable possibility.

Even if you participate in your local curbside recycling program, items may not end up where you intended. With so many strict recycling rules that vary from region to region, it's not always clear if personal care product packaging is being recycled correctly. What's recyclable in one town can easily end up in the landfill of another. Luckily, Tom's of Maine has made it easier for their customers to be sure their products are recycled.

The Terra-Tom's Team-Up

TerraCycle is the global leader in recycling products made of hard-to-recycle materials, including toothbrushes, toothpaste tubes, cigarette butts, dirty diapers, chewing gum, snack wrappers, and many others. They offer several different free recycling programs for various materials, and through these programs, almost every type of waste can be kept out of landfills and put to use.

"Our founder began the work when he was a student at Princeton," shares Derek Noah, TerraCycle Account Manager. "[The company] first started with looking at how to solve food waste within the school cafeteria and launched as a worm composting company. From there, we've evolved into recycling and focus on all the things that cannot be recycled curbside, traditionally non-recyclable items."

The partnership with Tom's of Maine began in 2012. It was a natural pairing, with both organizations having core values anchored in sustainability. Since then, over a million post-consumer items have been collected through their natural care product recycling program.

Recycle and waste bins at campground.

Why Not Simply Use Recycle Bins?

Not all regions across the country accept all materials through curbside programs, meaning items that might be used in an alternative way could end up in a landfill.

"Recycling on your own is great, and it should be the ideal scenario, but some products are curbside recyclable and some are not," says Noah. "If an item is placed in a recycling bin and cannot be recycled in that area, it goes to a landfill, which is something we don't want to happen. Together, we are providing a solution for all natural oral care products to be responsibly recycled in a sustainable way."

When you send your natural care packaging to TerraCycle to be recycled, you prevent it from winding up in an incineration facility or a landfill. The company's goal is to steer "waste" away from being burned or buried. As a result of the partnership, the outcome is much more positive—new materials and products will be created from your donation. This means fewer new materials need to be extracted and refined from the raw materials of our planet, too. So, you'll be part of a better solution while causing less environmental harm.

Through the Tom's of Maine Natural Care Recycling Program, you can build community ties and enable a whole group of people to recycle responsibly by placing a bin at a local school or community center and sending the collected items on their way with the program-provided shipping label. You can even see if local businesses and organizations would be willing to help promote awareness or sponsor an event to increase collection efforts.

For example, Tom's of Maine sponsored a community contest with a supermarket chain to motivate several local schools to ramp up their recycling efforts. At the end of the contest, the school with the largest collection of these recyclable materials won raised garden beds and a picnic table made from the recycled plastic.

Getting Started and Collecting Points for Charity

To get started, visit the Tom's of Maine Natural Care Recycling Program website and set up your account. Participation is limited. Once you have signed up, you can request a free shipping label. From there, you can begin collecting items wherever you'd like: at home, at school, or through a local organization.

Here are some of the items accepted through the program, which extends beyond just Tom's of Maine products:

  • Mouthwash bottles and caps
  • Deodorant containers and caps
  • Toothpaste tubes and caps
  • Soap packaging
  • Floss containers
  • Toothbrushes

For each shipment you send to TerraCycle, you have the opportunity to earn points. These points can be converted into cash for your favorite charity, or you can choose one of TerraCycle's non-profit organization partners, which range in focus from protecting parklands to free music classes for children.

Not only has the Terra-Tom's team-up resulted in less impact on our environment, it has also led to almost $30,000 in donations to charity! Being a part of the solution allows you to earn money for charity and build community partnerships, all while taking a step to make the planet healthier and cleaner.

Marine debris team members removed toothbrushes from shorelines.

Have you participated in the Tom's of Maine Natural Care Recycling Program? Tell us on Twitter!

Image Sources: Pexels | Pixabay | Wikimedia Commons

The views and opinions expressed in any guest post featured on our site are those of the guest author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions and views of Tom's of Maine.

Why It's Good

The Tom's of Maine Natural Care Recycling Program is a free, simple way to promote more sustainable living. Participation is limited.  You can earn money for charity and build community partnerships, all while helping to make the planet healthier and cleaner.