Christopher Lochhead Follow Your Different™

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168 Tom Szaky - Garbage Innovation

June 22, 2018
Tom Szaky is the CEO and founder of TerraCycle, a company that makes consumer products from waste. They recycle everything from cigarette butts, toothbrushes to diapers. The beauty of it? It's all funded by producers! Listen in as Christopher and Tom talk trash about trash and how the economics of recycling benefits producers and consumers alike.

"Every 2-seconds, a garbage truckload of trash goes into the ocean." - Tom Szaky

'Diaper Demand' economics is real

Diapers make up 3% of our landfills. It's not just kids, 50% of men over 50 wear them.  Waste is something you pay to get rid of. There is a positive supply and massive quantities of it but a negative demand. While you won't buy a dirty diaper from me, you would probably buy it from me at a negative price. It's a huge fucking opportunity that not many see.

There's opportunity in trash

If you think about the super sexy industries, the ones everyone dreams about being there, they are crowded with amazing people. That makes it really hard to be unique and stand out. Everyone wants to be a rock and roll stars and there are so few spots. You don't get this in an industry that people are repulsed by. The waste industry is that kind of place. But those industries that are repulsing most are the ones to look out for. Waste is the law of death. Everything breaks. It's a predictable path. 

Disposability is an addiction

Floating in each ocean, and there are 5, are massive islands of floating trash, somewhere between 1-3 times the size of TX. BUT, that's only 5% of the waste! The other 95% sinks to the bottom.  Recycling is not the answer to garbage and to stop consuming is not the answer. The answer is to stop buying cheap disposable shit. Instead of buying stuff that lasts one use, we need to buy durable amazing stuff that lasts for a very long time. Think back to the durable products our grandparents, their parents and everyone before that used. Think of it in these terms, 99% of all products become garbage within one year. An average Western American woman buys 67 apparel items a year and uses them on average 5 times before throwing them out. Compare that to the 1920's when the same woman sewed her own clothes and probably had two outfits, total.