Revolution in a Bottle: How TerraCycle Redefines Green Business

TerraCycle Tom-Blog
My book, Revolution in a Bottle, hit the streets this week. It follows the story of TerraCycle from our beginnings in my dorm room, shoveling maggot filled organic waste, to creating products we sold to Wal-Mart and other major big box retailers, getting sued by Scotts and creating “sponsored waste” programs to upcycle branded waste. It also offers insights on how we approach media and pursue new opportunities. Read on to catch an excerpt from the book. In many ways, what follows are lessons I learned on the job as an untrained and highly instinctual entrepreneur. TerraCycle taught me extreme forms of bootstrapping, and many of the innovations for which we are known were responses to failures of initial attempts in packaging, marketing, product development and even investor pitches. For me, the key to our success was having one big idea—making the greenest, most affordable and effective products from waste—and holding firmly to it. As you will see, there were numerous times when, for example, to attract investment, we might have compromised our environmental commitments, but if we did, TerraCycle would have ended up like one of many companies, rather than in a league of its own. We let the idea of our company—producing a range of green products made from and packaged in waste without charging a premium for them—live and grow within us. Not only did that commitment distinguish us with our immediate customers (large retail companies), and with end consumers, local and national press and with our sponsored waste brand partners, it also gave us cost advantages over other co