Maurice’s Review: I know just how Cheryl feels. I never eat the last cookie in a box, even when another package of cookies is waiting. My wife won’t eat the last cookie either, so the lone survivor sits there until it is eligible for social security (in cookie years), by which time it has devolved into something that looks like toothpaste.
I am in a silent battle with my husband over who can squeeze the final drop out of the toothpaste tube. Every time I go to brush, I see that rolled-up, twisted container of paste and believe it is a thrown gauntlet, a challenger silently slapping me in the face with a glove. Who will give in, toss the damn thing in the trash and open the new one? For of course, there is a new one. Someone (me) noticed the old was nearing the end of its serviceable life. “Toothpaste” was added to the list for my husband to pick up on his next run to the grocery store. It now sits in waiting. Daring. Quietly seducing. Who will give in?
This morning, and every morning this week, I valiantly crushed, twisted and bent the toothpaste tube thinking nothing further could be wrested from this wreckage. Some paste popped out after my determined efforts. Now, nothing further was extractable. I put the tube back in its place, confident I had just brushed with the last possible gobbet of white goop. I would later learn of my ignorance when I once again discovered the tube, taunting me like a school yard bully.
There are many tactics for extracting toothpaste from the tube. I tried the bending-it-over-a-rock method. My husband is a geologist, so we have many rocks handy in our house. I discovered a smooth rock from the coast of Maine sitting in a convenient location. Since we have no bathroom counter top, I set the rock on top of the narrow glass shelf above the sink and eased the pliable plastic tube over the rock and out came a plop. Ha! Nothing left after this! I set the tube back into the cupboard. Victorious.
On my next brushing expedition, I was shocked to find the tube still in the cupboard. Sputtering with determination, I next attacked it with picture-hanging wire, but that was too cumbersome, so I abandoned that procedure and applied long strokes along the length of the tube until a smidgen appeared at the top. Yay. It wasn’t as satisfying as it sounds.
The next morning, I stared uncomprehendingly at the tube, still in there. I checked the box of new toothpaste to make sure my man wasn’t cheating by using it and leaving the old tube in the cupboard just to drive me bonkers. No such luck. I would have thrown this old tube away four brushes ago, but now I was getting into the concept of waste not, want not. Zero waste it wasn’t, but absolutely getting the last drop out was definitely less waste and if I was not the one to chuck it into the garbage, then I would be less guilty of choking the landfills, etc.
I applied the strangulation method. If you don’t know it, then you are not as crazy as we are. If there is any speck of paste left, it can be removed by sharply bending the tube just below the exit hole. This is definitely a two-handed procedure which requires a vigorous thumb dexterity accompanied by a delicate balancing just above the brush so as not to tip the thing over causing spillage, wastage and lots of swearing for having to clean it up and start over. This particular morning, I met with a pleasing success. Smugly, I placed the tube back into the cupboard.
That evening the tube was still there. How? Surely, I had eliminated every last possible dribble of frosty white stuff from it. But there it was like a dental hygiene prosecutor, ready to bring me to trial. Rolling seemed like the next strategy to try. As I struggled with this procedure, I recalled that there are special little metal clips made for just this kind of action on a tube. How I wished I had one. I was sure its application would have been more efficient than my clumsy attempt. I got a drop. Just enough to qualify as sufficient for cleaning my teeth. Now… now there could not possibly be any more left to excavate.
The concept of zero waste has long captured my imagination. Each time I toss a toothpaste tube into my stylish, wicker bathroom trash basket, I think about how many of those things get tossed into landfill areas every day. During the “war of the last drop,” I decided to go online to find homemade toothpaste recipes. I watched several You Tube videos when I should have been working on getting the next blog story together. Time wasting ranks right down there with regular wasting.
None of the people making toothpaste on You Tube mentioned spitting the stuff into your sink and down the drain to the water supply. Apparently, there are lots of nasty chemicals in commercial toothpaste, but not one of them will clog the p-trap in your bathroom plumbing. Almost all the toothpaste recipes contained coconut oil and other flavored essential oils. There were many comments under these videos about sludging up the pipes. There is the case that your toothbrush is left greasy as well. And your mouth. There would be a lot of swishing afterwards. I am not spitting that into my stylish, wicker bathroom trash basket.
Also baking soda. Viewers were concerned whether the use of baking soda was advisable for the long term. One recipe used some kind of powdered clay. I ruled that one out right away. Shopping for clay that I would be willing to put in my mouth seemed like a daunting task, not to mention that I don’t want to put clay in my mouth, powdered or otherwise. On the other hand, it was flavored with cacao, which is essentially chocolate. What an incentive for brushing! It made the toothpaste a dark brown, which was so unappealing a sight that I vehemently shouted out “NO.” I declared white and minty as the only acceptable color and taste for my daily dental ablutions.
At my next encounter with the toothpaste tube, I found it unrolled and completely smoothed out. I could see the actual inside of the tube instead of any stubbornly clinging paste. My husband had used the very last drop, but did not throw the tube away. He actually left it there for me to find. I smoothed, squeezed, rolled and swore over that damn tube, then placed it back into the cupboard for him to find. I reviewed my options.
I could skip brushing my teeth. I could run into the kitchen to whip up a batch of homemade toothpaste but then he would know something was up and start a litany of law-enforcement- worthy questioning. I decided to use the technique I had earlier suspected him of employing. I carefully opened the new box of toothpaste, unscrewed the tube lid and squeezed out some delightful blue gel onto my toothbrush. I felt somewhat reverent toward this virgin tube I had violated. Protecting both its reputation and mine, I carefully placed the lid back on, slid the tube into the box and painstakingly replaced the box on the shelf so that the open end was against the side of the cabinet. It quietly sat there looking unmolested.
Am I proud of this trick? Yes. When I next entered the bathroom, the old tube was nestled comfortably in my stylish, wicker bathroom trash basket. The new tube was in the cupboard, sitting in the place of honor reserved for usable tubes of toothpaste. It will be weeks before a battle looms over its contents. I will be prepared with a mason jar of a greasy, gritty, peppermint flavored homemade concoction sure to end the contest. Now, where to hide it.
My husband was never aware of this battle,
Guest Editor Maurice, Ethel’s very first editor, is also an avid reader. Perhaps we could have a contest! He always brushes his teeth after eating cookies.