April 15, 2024

Ned Heaton, 15 year old founder of The Turtle Tribe was this week crowned as Australia’s Teen Entrepreneur of the Year for his mission to save the oceans from plastic pollution.
Founding his business at the age of 11, Ned had grown up witnessing the problem of ocean plastics first hand during his annual family camping trips on Mulgumpin (Moreton Island), and decided to do something about it.
“I’m honoured to receive this award”, says Ned, “and hope it shines a light on the issue of ocean plastics, and the urgent need for us all to reduce our plastic waste.”
“Scientists predict that by 2050 there’ll be more plastic in the ocean than fish, and we can’t let that happen. We have to change. We have to use less plastic.”
“Plastic toothbrushes last for several hundred years in the marine environment, and every one you’ve ever used is still in the world somewhere. The crazy thing is, there’s no need to make them out of plastic. Bamboo toothbrushes work just the same but biodegrade when you’ve finished with them.”
Ned is so keen to disrupt the plastic toothbrush market he’s pledged to give away one million bamboo toothbrushes, and invites people to visit his site and give one a try. He’s also talking to supermarkets to stock his products, politicians to ban plastic toothbrushes, has written a children’s picture book to educate younger kids about the issue, and regularly speaks at events, schools, and in the media.
Ned credits his success to his many supporters, including Ocean Crusaders, Sea Shepherd, University of Queensland, Brisbane Sustainability Agency, Dolphin Research Australia, Regis Aged Care, Youth in Business and more.
Forging inter-generational partnerships with some of Australia’s largest aged care providers has seen The Turtle Tribe grow quickly into one of Australia’s largest suppliers of bamboo toothbrushes.
The Teens in Business Awards received hundreds of entries from around the country, and finalists were invited to pitch their business ideas in front of their peers and a panel of judges during the online event, as part of Spark Festival 2022.
The judges were blown away with the calibre of entries this year, and noted Ned’s “impressive business model, providing a tangible solution to a major world problem”, also recognising him with the Most Impactful Teen Business Award.
The Teens in Business Awards is a joint initiative between Young Change Agents and BOP Industries, the 2022 Teens in Business Awards celebrates and amplifies the creativity, passion, and interests of young people as they try to create positive change in their communities. The awards acknowledge young people and give them a platform to expand their impact.
Spark Festival is a not-for-profit, grassroots festival for start-ups and innovators looking to create a better future.
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The Turtle Tribe was founded in 2018 by 11 year old Ned Heaton, a kid on a mission to reduce ocean plastics, and in 4 years has become one of the largest bamboo toothbrush suppliers in Australia, partnering with dentists, resorts, wholesalers and national aged care providers. His latest project, the rhyming children’s book ’Say NO to Plastic!’, which he co-authored with his Dad Shane, is intended to educate and empower other young children to follow in his footsteps and use their voices to make a positive difference in the world. WINNER, Teen Entrepreneur of the Year, Teens in Business Awards Australia, 2022 WINNER, Most Impactful Teen Entrepreneur, Teens in Business Awards Australia, 2022 WINNER, 7News/UQ Young Achievers Awards (Queensland) – Create Change, 2022 WINNER, ‘Best Litter Prevention Program by an individual (5-17yrs)’, Brisbane City Council Cleaner Suburbs Awards, 2019 WINNER, ‘Entrepreneur of the Year’ in Youth in Business Program, 2019 WINNER, ‘Changemaker of the Year’ at the global ‘Be the Change’ awards, 2019 WINNER, Best Film & Best Ocean Theme U13, Cicada Film Festival, Brisbane, 2019 CO-AUTHOR, Say NO to Plastic!, a rhyming children’s picture book for prep-3, 2022 Guest Speaker, Dolphin Research Australia 10 Year Celebration, 2022Guest Exhibitor, ACCPA National aged care conference, 2022 Guest Speaker, UQ Marine Research Station alumni event, 2022 Guest Speaker, Brisbane City Council Green Heart Fair, 2022/2021 Guest Speaker, Sea Shepherd Shep-X event, Brisbane, 2020 Guest Speaker, Queensland Government/City Smart Climate Week Speakers Series, 2019 Guest Speaker, gala launch of The Moreton Bay Foundation, 2019 Guest Exhibitor, National Sustainability Conference, 2019
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