By Lisa Pellegrino – Strategic Partnerships Manager at TerraCycle
As we rack our brains thinking of the perfect gifts for our loved ones, there are certain categories of gifts that carry a timeless, waste-free characteristic to them such as art, experiences, and food. Some brands work with us on national recycling solutions to keep their packaging out of landfills and provide opportunities to raise funds for charity, so our brand partners are a great place to start for your holiday shopping list for gifts and gatherings.
Here at TerraCycle®, we have a mission of Eliminating the Idea of Waste®. This mission actually falls in the category of more of a vision statement, a “BHAG” if you will; a Big Hairy Audacious Goal.
There are countless ways to advance and support this notion of there being no such thing as trash, just misplaced resources. One is to vote for a future where garbage is obsolete by investing in a Zero Waste Box™ for yourself, and as a gift for others!
The Zero Waste Box system is the comprehensive, simplified recycling solution for nearly all materials that are considered “hard-to-recycle” in the public system (which is almost everything, nowadays). It’s a convenient and easy way to ensure that the products and packaging you use in your day-to-day life have an alternative destination than the landfill or incinerator.
One of the most common materials that are littered, landfilled, and blowing around city streets every day are flexible plastics, which can include a number of common things, such as food or snack wrappers, plastic shopping bags…the list goes on.
Our Plastic Packaging – Zero Waste Box™ (or “ZWB” as we like to call them) is a kind of life preserver in the abyss of these unavoidable, persistent stretchy plastics. It’s an all-star in a lineup of next-level recycling 2.0. You can select from 3 different size ZWBs so that you can right-fit the collection bin to the space that you’re looking to place it in.
By investing in a circular solution for products and packaging at the end of their use, you are voting for a future where the linear model of take, make, waste has been shed, and the supply chains for the goods we produce and consume are circular, closed loops.
Virtuous cycles: take, make, regenerate
In addition to taking responsibility for our impacts by recycling, it’s critical we tell the companies we choose and support that we want alternatives to non-recyclability. Start a conversation with the businesses producing typically non-recyclable products or packaging, forcing you to send materials to the landfill.
As a customer (individually, and at the business or institutional level), you have amazing leverage to give feedback on the ways that you’d like to see brands innovate to match your values. Whether that’s through setting up a free National Recycling Program with us, or by changing their packaging altogether (check out our latest initiative, Loop, for more on how that can be done), businesses can do much better for their customers, and in a number of ways.
From the end-user, consumer perspective, so many aspects of an eco-friendly life can seem out of our control. From where the energy to run our technology, transportation, and appliances comes from, all the way to the source and treatment of life-supporting water, these complex systems seem to extend far outside of our ability to influence, affect, or impact.
However, the items we own, buy, and eventually discard are literally in our hands. We have the unique ability to choose and decide to produce less in the first place, and responsibly purchase, discard, and inject the rest into a virtuous system, rather than a vicious cycle of buying things only to have them eventually be thrown away.
Yet make no mistake—no one has it all figured out. The world of sustainability can be confusing, let alone knowing how to be recycling perfectly. The accepted items in municipal programs keep changing and vary location by location, making recycling correctly a moving target.
I often like to say that we’re all bozos on the bus when it comes to sustainability in a modern context. If some “expert” had it all figured out, then we would’ve climbed “Mount Sustainability” already. Though we’ve got a long way to go, we can at least try and start taking steps forward.
We can all be striving to do better, working towards continuous improvement. As we gather together during this holiday season, may we all hold a place for gratitude over taking things for granted, presence over stuff, and the beauty in the interplay between giving and receiving.
“Remember – the happiest people are not those getting more, but those giving more.” – H. Jackson Brown Jr.