Author: Andrew Gelfman

Trash To Treasure: This Company Takes Recycling To The Next Level

Consumers And Consumption

It?s lunchtime and you?ve almost finished your meal, but you?re sitting so far away from the only recycling bin in the room. ?The trash can is so much closer. It’s so easy to think ?What?s the harm? One paper plate won?t hurt anyone, right?? ?Although it may be convenient, the choice to opt for the landfill, when applied to the entire world, really does add up.? It’s death by a thousand paper cuts.

Ever since rampant consumption became the norm, products transitioned from natural resources like wood and metal to more easily mass-produced materials, such as plastics and foams. ?These artificial materials are disrupting our ecosystems. ?TerraCycle wants to fix that.

TerraCycle has one main goal: prevent waste from ending up in landfills, incinerators, or even our oceans. ?

To do this, the company constructs national programs where people can recycle all sorts of things that normally couldn?t be recycled. ?Everything from cigarette butts to latex gloves get collected and processed to keep them out of a trash can.

??The real exciting part about recycling,? says Tom Szaky, founder and CEO of TerraCycle, ?is that not only does it eliminate the need to landfill, incinerate, or throw as litter, but it eliminates the need for new materials to be extracted. ?Every single environmental issue…is linked to consumption and consumerism.?

Instead of Blame, Make Businesses Part Of The Solution

TerraCycle is currently just shy of $20 million in sales, with consistent and significant increases to that number every year. ?Rather than blaming corporations for being a part of the problem, TerraCycle decides to work with them and help them reduce their waste. ??The real answer to cigarettes…is that people shouldn?t smoke. ?There won?t be cigarette butts on the ground. ?There won?t be all the negative health effects. ?Still today, one in five people smoke,? says Tom.

?My goal, instead of commenting on whether cigarettes or any other product is good or bad, is to say let?s convince these organizations or retailers or factories to invest their money not in necessarily marketing and TV commercials, but in creating robust recycling solutions for those things that couldn?t be recycled before.?

TerraCycle created their cigarette recycling program four years ago, but they already have it implemented in 11 countries around the world, and more on the way. ?Success like that can only be done by partnering with the world?s biggest companies. ?TerraCycle has a wide variety of partners; not only the ones you would expect, such as Whole Foods or Clif Bar, but also large international corporations such as Nestle, Kraft, Phillip Morris, and many others. ?

At the end of the day, it?s not the companies that make the most difference. ?

?The most powerful voice in this entire equation,? explains Tom, ?is the consumer…We vote with actual hard money multiple times a day for what type of world we want to live in. ?Whatever we choose [to buy], we are voting with money that that is more of what we want, and we want less of the other things…If consumers want a better world, they have to buy their way into it by picking the right products that perhaps are recyclable or holistic or are spreading those things we want more of and not buying the things we don?t want more of.?

The Power Of Upcycling

There are five things you can do with waste today, according to Tom. ?The worst is obviously putting it in a landfill. ?The next best would be gaining the item?s ?caloric value?, which is popular in places like Germany and Japan. ?It means burning the item and gaining it?s potential energy. ?It?s better than landfilling, but you?re still only getting that energy once. ?On the opposite end of the scale is reusing and upcycling. ?Reusing is anything from hand-me-downs to refurbished electronics. ?

Upcycling is very interesting in that it reuses the material for a function that is different from it?s original purpose. ?One such example of upcycling would be a table that is made from an old door, or taking apart a pen and using the plastic for a credit card and the metal for a trash can. ?If the object can?t be upcycled, recycling is the next best option.

This is where TerraCycle comes into the picture. ?By coming to companies that normally couldn?t care less and providing them with programs that not only help the environment, but also give a campaign to customers and stakeholders, everybody wins.

It all comes down to what we as a society decide is recyclable. ?For example, look around your room. ?Literally everything in your room will one day become waste, including your room itself. ?TerraCycle focuses on changing that notion, and bringing another life into those materials.

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

The 3 Keys to Success – According to the Founder of The Container Store

They sell plastic.? Yet they are one of the most beloved companies in America. ?The Container Store started out as a single store in Dallas with only $35,000 in capital. Kip Tindell worked tirelessly to build his investment into the big name retail chain it is today. Fast forward to 2017. Today, The Container Store brings in $795 million in revenue, spent 18 years on the Fortune 100 Best Companies list, and offers fantastic wages for staff that feel “valued and respected”. It is safe to say that he has succeeded.

But how was all of this possible? To find out, we spoke to Kip Tindell himself.

Kip is a believer in?“1 Equals 3”, or more specifically, one great person is equivalent to three good people.

By creating an environment where employees are well-trained and treated as humans rather than assets, productivity and profits soar. It all starts with the training. While the average retailer provides 8 hours of employee training, The Container Store provides 273 formal training hours.

He goes on to explain, “I’m not an advocate of paying mediocre people well. I’m a big advocate of paying great people well, and if you pay somebody who’s getting three times the productivity twice as much, everybody wins.”

Employers win because they pay two salaries for the work of three people. Employees win by getting much higher pay than the industry average. Consumers win because they are being helped by capable, motivated and well-trained staff. The Container Store recognizes the benefits of investing in their people and offering incentives in the right places.

In fact, a well-trained staff forms the basis for Kip?s next key to success: ?Man in the desert?. ?Imagine you are stranded in a desert, about to collapse from heat exhaustion. ?Suddenly, you see a man in an oasis. ?What should this man offer you in your time of need? ?This question can be directly linked to how retail staff can make or break a business. ?Many people would be content with water and shade. ?But businesses cannot thrive with customers who are merely ?content?. ?Instead, the man could offer you a sports drink to help replenish electrolytes, or a satellite phone to tell your loved ones that you are alive. ?It is when a salesperson exceeds expectations that people become lifelong customers.

Kip knows that if someone comes in with a poorly organized closet and walks out with a few shelves, chances are the closet will still be poorly organized. ?On the other hand, if the salesperson takes the time to truly understand and solve the problem, the customer will feel proud of their purchase and will share their experience with others. In other words, every happy customer is working for you as free advertisement. ?In fact, it is better than an ad because people trust their friends and family a lot more than a stranger on tv, the web, or a billboard.

Kip?s third and final key to success: ?Communication is Leadership?. ?Kip believes that everything can be solved with proper communication, so he communicates everything to almost all of his employees at all times. ?It seems obvious, but it is very easy to overlook how often you are keeping someone informed. ?The amount of information necessary and relevant also has to be balanced, so that the person isn?t overwhelmed with things irrelevant to their jobs.

In his words,

?Nothing makes you feel more part of something than when you know everything?s communicated to you. If everything?s not communicated to you, you feel excluded. ?You don?t really feel a part of it.? ?

Lack of communication can be easily misinterpreted as a lack of compassion. ?When managing teams of people, it is essential to keep everyone feeling appreciated since this is when we do our best work. People don?t mind putting in extra effort when they feel successful and part of a larger purpose.

The three keys to success all share a common theme: treat everyone as you would treat yourself. ?

There is a reason that ?the golden rule? is repeated over and over to every kindergardener, and it?s not because Charlie won?t share the Legos. ?It?s because humans are instinctively social creatures. ?There are benefits to treating your employees as people and going the extra mile for your customers. Kip Tindell has figured this out and made these conscious business concepts essential ingredients of The Container Store culture and brand.


Check out more great interviews and videos from leaders in conscious capitalism, in the new feature film?Prosperity

Tags: , , , , , , ,