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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.


Author Petra Kuenkel: The Art of Leading Collectively

More than ever before, there is a focus on new, collective forms of leadership—and an urgency to get collective change processes underway, all over the world. What’s behind the recent push to move collective leadership to the fore? Whether we find ourselves in societal or organizational change, it requires collective energy and drive to bring […] Read More

Author David Stroh: First Steps to Becoming a Systems Thinker

Systems thinking is often seen as something relegated to scientific and business analysis – economics, resource depletion, and climate. However, Systems Thinking for Social Change focuses on how to use systems thinking to make breakthrough progress on intransigent social problems. We asked author David Stroh how this approach can make an impact, and how readers […] Read More

Use Systems Thinking to Make Lasting Social Change

What can be done when our best intentions create unintended problems—such as temporary shelters increasing homelessness or food aid accelerating starvation?After decades of helping change-makers in the nonprofit, public, and private sectors address tough social problems, systems-thinking expert David Stroh shares the pioneering framework that both demystifies systems thinking and shows how it can lead […] Read More

Recipe: How to Make the Perfect Pancake

When most people think pancakes, they think breakfast. But for Amy Halloran, breakfast is only the start.Halloran, author of The New Bread Basket, is a self-described pancake connoisseur. From a young age, she was entranced by the magic of bubbly batter rising to fluffy cakes on the griddle. Over time, her love of pancakes developed […] Read More

Inside the Rise of the Local Grains Movement

Our daily bread. Breaking bread together. Bread and butter. These are all common phrases that reflect bread’s foundational role in our diet and in the building of our civilization. The stored energy of grain first allowed our ancestors to shift from nomadic hunting and gathering to building settled communities—even great cities. So why in an […] Read More
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