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Recycling project to benefit dental program mission

Heather Adkins (left) and Rebecca Caceres with recycling box.

Heather Adkins (left) and Rebecca Caceres with recycling box.

Normally, you wouldn’t give your toothbrush to someone once you’re done with it, but now you can, and for a good cause.

The OTC dental programs are collecting and recycling used dental products, such as toothbrushes and empty toothpaste tubes. The programs will receive money for the items and those funds will go to Project HOPE, which buys supplies for the dental students to take on the annual mission trip to Nicaragua.

Rebecca Caceres, the dental hygiene program director, said collection boxes have been placed around the Springfield campus and will be out during the fall picnic in September. The public can also contribute to the project by bringing materials to Lincoln Hall, Room 215.

Caceres said the project is sponsored by Colgate-Palmolive Co., which is contributing funds to the project as well.

“Our Colgate representative is a friend of mine and she contacted me about the project and said she thought it would be something I’d be interested in,” she said.

Don’t worry, no one has to use a recycled toothbrush to brush their teeth. The recycled products will be sent to and recycled by TerraCycle, a private U.S. small business headquartered in Trenton, N.J. The company makes products from the waste materials, including handbags, flowerpots and fencing.

“This is an effort to recycle oral care product waste, such as empty toothpaste tubes, floss containers, manual toothbrushes, and dental product containers,” Caceres said.

In addition to being active in local and state dental missions, OTC dental students go to a small Nicaraguan village each year.

There, students and support staff treat hundreds of residents who live in a rural area of the country and who either don’t have access to dental treatment or can’t afford it. The residents are not charged for the services. All of the supplies are donated or will be purchased with money raised through the recycling campaign.

Heather Adkins, a second-year dental hygiene student from Kickapoo High School, is the student leader of the project.

“They were asking for a volunteer to oversee the project and since I already recycle at home, I decided to do it,” Heather said. “I’m already passionate about it. Seeing things made from the recycled material is the coolest part of recycling.”

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