We're taking garbage and we're turning it into a useful product. The company started with worm poop, a 1)fertilizer that sold in over 10,000 major retailers. We literally could not afford packaging, so we started packaging in used soda bottles, and what that idea taught me was the power of a product made from waste.
And if you can solve waste that way, you can really 2)eliminate the entire idea of garbage. And that's what we do. In the past six years we've saved over 50 million juice pouches, 10 million bottles, 10 million 3)energy bar wrappers: over a hundred tons of waste from going to the 4)landfill. And if we can keep coming up with solutions for waste, we can really, really change this world and make a lot of money at the same time.
My name is Tom Szaky, and I'm a garbage 5)mogul.
I came down from Canada to Princeton, you know, to go to school. And one of the challenges, being 20 in America, is you can't really drink. So my buddies and I…we went up, fall break, freshman year, went up to 6)Montreal to enjoy being able to drink at 20. Canada's also very relaxed with certain plants, and my buddies were growing these plants in their basement. By the time I got there, they were doing amazingly well. And it turned out that one of my friends was taking worm poop, and feeding worm poop to his plants, and that fixed the plants. And, what got me really inspired was the fact that he was taking garbage in his kitchen, and feeding it to worms, and that is what made this amazing fertilizer. And so making products out of waste is what really inspired me at that moment.
And so within my...middle of my sophomore year, I dropped out of Princeton and I moved into a basement office, and started working full time on the company. And since we couldn't raise any money, you know, really 7)aggressively, we started entering and winning business plan contests. And that's how we financed our company. And the biggest turning point for 8)TerraCycle...really, where I think the company truly formed, was in April 2003. We had 500 dollars in our bank account, and we'd entered a contest for a million dollars. We went in and we won, but the venture capitalist that put up the money, wanted us to change the model...wanted us to move away from garbage, just launch another organic fertilizer. It was a big decision. And we ended up turning the money down and came home broke. Proud, but broke. And we went around to everyone's recycling container, and sorted out all the used soda bottles, and that point, became the world's first and only company to package, literally, and used in packaging, and we became, really, the most eco-friendly product that exists.