When the stars align… III.
Meet-up #3 with Tom Szaky, the founder of TerraCycle
This meet-up was organized by the U.S. Embassy for its Alumni and for some reason I managed to make it this time. There are always a lot of interesting people there and since everyone is rowing in the same boat having returned from the States after working or studying there it is nice to see them from time to time. Just like the previous night’s protagonist, little did I know about the guy. I knew he was Hungarian, he was young and a CEO. I thought he must know something and therefore the meeting was promisingly interesting. I googled again. I wanted to know who he was and what his business was and how did he become so important to have a meeting organized for him.
Well, he is all over Google! He is 29, blogs for New York Times and he runs a company now present in 18 countries, he makes money out of trash and he is kind of good-looking. And a genius! Of course I was late from the meeting – as usual (I should stop being late!). I got lucky and they only started after I got there.
Tom founded TerraCycle as a freshman in uni where he made fertilizer out of wormpoop…and wrapped it in used sodabottles…and sold 100,000 of it to Wal-Mart. He realized trash was not entirely waste and it can be reused, recycled or upcycled meaning that with different technology new products can be made out of it so the level of the ever-growing trash can be reduced or even eliminated. His business is about collecting big corporates’ trash (for which he gets paid by the corporate) and then resells it to another company as raw material for which TerraCycle also gets paid. Smart! They collect pens, candy wrappers, juice pouches, bottles and – here comes the mind blower – used chewing gum and used diapers.
He says he started this because he saw a large gap in the market and now he is so successful cause he doesn’t have an adequate competitor. He thinks it is because people don’t find trash “sexy”. I think environmental consciousness IS sexy! He also adds that mostly women and children are open to such ideas, men only buy hybrid cars because of the cool factor. Is it true?
I was curious if he was collecting waste selectively at home as well but he said the company is not yet set up for private trash. Would be nice though! Tom said that TerraCycle’s mission is to eliminate trash for once and for all. Daring goal and a very respectable one. On the other hand I have one concern because in some respect I feel like that this activity legitimates the current production of stuff and wrappers instead of eliminating them. I still appreciate what TerraCycle is doing and at least they are doing something, looking for solutions is far more than most other companies are doing and I dig that.
I also dig what this guy was saying about achieving whatever we want to achieve, we just have to want it badly and do it confidently. If we set goals we can reach our dreams. We have to believe in ourselves and never let it go. We have to believe in something than ourselves, because it is something that others can believe in too and it can give them the inspiration and motivation to join us fullheartedly. Then only the sky is the limit…
This last meeting had little or I should say none relevance to pastry (maybe household composting could make a slight connection – by the way I would love one of these indoor composting bins for home) I still felt like getting a message for myself. There is a reason why I had to go there and listen to him…my grandparents’ first question after telling them about my evening was whether he was single…
These three separate events together make one big ball of inspiration which I have to learn to play…and I am up for the challenge.