Evidence of the waste crisis is all around us. From cigarette butts on street corners to takeout containers along highways to towering landfills—trash is everywhere. It’s in the deepest trenches in the ocean and on the tallest mountains on the planet.
Waste, as we know it today, is a relatively new concept. While animals have always created waste (like poop or carbon dioxide), those outputs are useful to nature. That was even true of human waste, like a wooden chair or cotton shirt, until about 75 years ago. That’s when the world was seduced by cheap, disposable plastic products. They quickly made their way into our homes and businesses, but nature had no use for this type of waste. It took about 20 years to realize that trash was piling up.
The 1970s birthed the modern environmental movement, which brought us litter laws and modern recycling. While this was a step in the right direction, progress in solving the waste crisis hasn’t been fast enough to keep up with our rates of consumption. The average American consumes at least twice as much as they did 50 years ago.*
The waste crisis is the reason TerraCycle exists. From our humble years of turning worm poop into plant food packaged in used beverage bottles to offering free recycling programs sponsored by your favorite brands to unveiling our reuse platform Loop, we’re always working to achieve our mission: Eliminating the Idea of Waste®.
But to truly fight the global waste crisis, we need swift and significant action by everyone: governments, corporations, and us—the consumers.
Our free recycling programs are sponsored by brands and retailers around the world, so you can recycle the unrecyclable (items that aren’t typically recyclable curbside) for free. It’s a way for stakeholders to take voluntary responsibility for this important externality. Where corporations don’t voluntarily act to be more sustainable, they should be held accountable by law. It’s our responsibility as consumers to advocate for more legislation that reduces waste. We can also vote with our dollar for the businesses that operate with the planet in mind and not give our money to those responsible for major amounts of disposable packaging.
We are all a part of the solution. Join TerraCycle’s mission by signing up for one of our free recycling programs or finding a Zero Waste Box™ that suits your recycling needs. And while we should seek to recycle whatever we can, the ultimate solution to the waste crisis is buying less.
* “Why Consumption Matters” by Betsy Taylor and Dave Tilford. (2000).