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Upcycling Your Trash: The Terracycle Interview

Terracycle is one of the “green” businesses profiled in Richard Seireeni‘s Gort Cloud: The Invisible Force Powering Today’s Most Visible Green Brands. In this interview with Ode, TerraCycle co-founder and CEO Tom Szaky proves his company is not just talking the green talk, but also walking the green walk.

TerraCycle co-founder and CEO Tom Szaky doesn’t believe in a conflict between environmental values and the bottom line. He built a profitable business based on new uses for garbage. TerraCycle collected more than 100 million packaging items last year—potato chip bags, juice pouches, yogurt cups—and recycled them into tote bags, school supplies and other products.

Your goal is to eliminate the idea of waste. Is that really possible?

“In nature, garbage doesn’t exist. Humans create garbage by choosing to put items in trash cans. If you start to see all these items we choose to throw out as valuable, then you don’t have garbage at all. Nature has all these different solutions for by-products of its systems. What we’re doing [at TerraCycle] is going waste stream by waste stream and creating specialized solutions.”

What is “upcycling”?

“With upcycling, you value all aspects of the item and don’t treat any aspect of it as waste. So, for example, we have yogurt cups we’re making into gardening pots. We say, Let’s not melt it down, but find a new use.

Read the whole interview here.


A Dictionary to Survive the Future

When British economist David Fleming died unexpectedly in 2010, he left behind his great unpublished work, a masterpiece more than thirty years in the making—an intellectually evocative and inspiring dictionary, Lean Logic: A Dictionary for the Future and How to Survive It. In it, Fleming examined the consequences of an economy that destroys the very foundations—ecological, […] Read More

Overshoot, Collapse, and Creating a Better Future

In 2016, Earth Overshoot Day happened on August 8—the day when we’ve exhausted the planet’s resources for the year, and are essentially borrowing from future years to maintain our existence today.Perhaps you celebrated this day with a counter-solution: a vegetarian meal, telecommuted, or turned off the air conditioning. There’s a lot more you could be […] Read More

The Future Is Hopeless, So Give it Your All

The never-ending national election in the United States, the “surprise” pro-Brexit vote in the United Kingdom, climate change … the list goes on and on about how easy it can be to lose hope in the future.Like many of life’s frustrations, or overwhelmingly large topics, most people in our society find themselves somewhere on the […] Read More

Climate Change & the End of Stationarity

Just as predicting the rise of Donald Trump as a leading presidential candidate stumped even the best of political analysts (looking at you Nate “FiveThirtyEight” Silver), the advent of the Sixth Great Extinction due to climate change and an increasingly potent mix of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has completely upended how we predict the […] Read More

Use Simple Games to Better Understand Climate Change

How is it that emissions keep growing despite rising concern about the climate change they cause? It is possible to identify several reasons for the paradox, most of which lie outside the scope of The Climate Change Playbook. But one important reason is relevant here: people do not understand the behaviors of the climate system.And […] Read More
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