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  • Writer's pictureEllen Worrell

#Write52 week 28: All (good) progress comes in threes?

I've got three things to share with you this week, all progress (of sorts)!

1. Personal progress

A very clever and eco-conscious Father Christmas left three excellent gifts for me to find in my stocking: a shaving bar, a shampoo bar and a soap dish/carrier. The shaving bar smells divine and lathers up beautifully; it's simply a joy to use. As you'll know from week 16 of the #Write52 challenge, I've not yet converted to shampoo bars but as soon as my current bottle runs out, I'll be sure to give this one a go and report back. And while the soap dish looks like it's made of plastic, it is in fact a clever hybrid plastic timber that can go in the compost bin once it reaches the end of its useful life. It looks and feels just like plastic, so I find it hard to believe it isn't *just* plastic, but it's most certainly progress. Thanks Father Christmas!

2. Large-scale progress

I've had two bits of post drop through my letterbox this week that have made me grin like a Cheshire cat: my 5th QTR magazine from England Netball and the latest Discover the World brochure. And I'm not grinning simply because I'm mad-keen on netball and love travelling. In fact, both of these magazines have come packaged in a plastic-free wrapper made from 100% biodegradable potato starch. These wrappers feel less crinkly than the usual plastic wrappers and don't spring back immediately after scrunching them up. What's more, you can use them to line your food waste caddy, add them to your compost heap or even put them in your garden waste bin. Here's hoping more and more companies start using this packaging as a more environmentally friendly solution, but for now, it's the kind of progress I welcome with open arms.

3. Potential progress?

Now, I'm always a little sceptical when global giants announce new "revolutionary" technology and I often wonder what's in it for them. I'll admit the same thought crossed my mind when I read that Colgate-Palmolive has launched recyclable toothpaste tubes and plans to share its tube technology with competitors (see this great eNViro30 piece, and while you're there, feel free to sign up to their weekly newsletter). I'm certainly not against any progress being made in this area - especially given that an estimated 20 billion tubes of toothpaste are used and discarded every year. (Yep, you read that right: 20 billion. 20,000,000,000. Every year.)

However, I do have an issue with the recommended retail price of this new Smile for Good toothpaste being set at £4.99 a tube! While I accept we've gotten used to a small tube of Colgate costing around 90p in most supermarkets, and this price-point is unsustainable if we want sustainable packaging, I cannot accept a 500% price increase. It's simply not affordable for the masses, but that's precisely what we need. I fear that, in say 6 months time, Colgate will pull the product from the shelves due to lack of sales and we'll be back to lobbing 20 billion tubes away every year.

Would it not be better to use refillable glass jars instead that can be used over and over again - for the same toothpastey purpose? Surely Colgate-Palmolive would be better off ploughing money into setting up toothpaste refill stations rather than researching a very specific kind of plastic that is a) recyclable but b) still squeezy. Is the world really yearning for squeezy tubes of toothpaste?!

I'll leave it up to you to decide if this one really counts as progress...

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