Objective: Zero Waste


Producing less waste: a lifestyle that can be learned This, at least, is the theory behind Make Garbage Great: The TerraCycle Family Guide to a Zero-Waste Lifestyle, published in July, which provides advice and tips on reducing the garbage we throw out every day.


I buy my cereal in bulk. I never drink with a straw, I don’t use plastic bags at the supermarket, and I don’t take grocery receipts. I compost my vegetable peelings, I say no to paper towels and yes to dishcloths, and I recycle all my scraps of paper. In broader terms, I consume less and better, and I recycle and reuse my consumer goods (as much as I can)! In short, I’ve adopted a “zero-waste lifestyle.” This strict philosophy – which entails reducing packaging, recycling production line leftovers and used wrappers, and such like – is winning over not only more and more people, but also more and more companies.

I consume less and better, and I recycle and reuse my consumer goods

Four billion tons of waste produced every year

The stakes are high: the global rise in consumption, particularly of disposable products, is an increasing source of waste: some four billion metric tons of garbage are accumulated every year on our planet. France alone produced nearly 345 million tons of waste in 2012, including 70% from construction and 10% from households. This averages out to roughly 5.3 tons of waste per person each year! The end result is that waste treatment facilities are reaching saturation point. The storage and incineration of our garbage are polluting the soil and the water, emitting greenhouse gases and, in the end, exacerbating climate change.

An educational book

A Bible on how to generate less waste

But we now have a Bible on how to generate less waste. Make Garbage Great: The TerraCycle Family Guide to a Zero-Waste Lifestyle, published in July. The aim is to guide and teach each member of society so that we can reduce our garbage by recycling and reusing consumer goods. The book, which includes 200 photos and drawings, closely examines the different materials that consumers use on a day-to-day basis (plastic, glass, ceramics, paper, wood, etc.), as well as their environmental impact. It also shares tips on how to recycle and reuse them, in the form of do-it-yourself information sheets. For example, if you’re willing to spend a little time on it, you can make a glasses case out of denim, or a wallet from an old inner tube.

30 million collectors

This eco-guide was developed by Tom Szaky and Albe Zakes, respectively the Founder/CEO and the Global VP, Media Relations, of TerraCycle. The American company was founded in 2001, with the mission of achieving zero waste. An expert in recycling and reusing waste (as bags, cases, fences, clocks and more), it organizes collection networks for products that have always been considered non-recyclable. For this, it uses “brigades” of individuals (specializing in anything from cigarette butts to pens to cell phones). What’s in it for consumers? An eco-responsible attitude and a kitty that grows with every shipment of waste, and is then used for donations to charities and schools.

TerraCycle operates in 21 countries, where more than 30 million people collect garbage for it, and has also established numerous partnerships with international companies. The Stonyfield Group, in particular, has joined forces with it to form a brigade that collects and recycles yogurt containers and toothpaste tubes, transforming them into bags, benches and even garbage cans!

Photo © : vichie81

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