How to Green Your Office In A Trashy Way

If you’re a green company, should you likewise have a green office?

Some would say it depends on how public facing your company is, how curious your customers are, and how much they care. Others would say that no matter how visible the “behind the curtain” aspects of your company are to the rest of the world, having a work environment that walks the talk just as much as the rest of your company and its offerings do is a crucial thing.


Because employees, especially the upcoming millennial generation, will be that much clearer that your company is one they can deeply invest themselves in, be proud to be a part of, and tell others about. When they do this, It’s a powerful, authentic endorsement of your business that, via the social media channels that are becoming an everyday part of people’s lives, can be amplified and spread broadly. A no cost form of marketing if you will.

And I don’t have to tell you that stability of your employee roster is just good for business.

We as a company have always been about seeing more and better ways to reuse what otherwise would have been waste. After 9 years in business, it struck me: Why don’t we turn our upcycling talent towards our own work environment, and in showing others, inspire it happening in their work environment too?

Take a look:

As you can see, we took our valuing transparency a bit literally with our new conference rooms, whose walls are made entirely from stacked plastic bottles! It’s been a bit of an adjustment, but interestingly, having any sort of of delineation of a space and its use tends to have people comfortably adjust to using it as normal, still having the space they need.

When we looked at redoing our work surfaces, we found that not only can it be done sustainably, but also affordably.

Take our desks for example: They consist of reclaimed doors, stacks of former cat litter plastic containers for legs, bolstered by the sturdy core roll that we get our pre consumer packaging waste from companies, and scalloped LP vinyl records for dividers. All of these resources didn’t take any additional energy to produce, and their cost was trivial.

The flooring was likewise reasonably procured, squares being cut from remnants, creating a cohesive, professional look, that can easily be maintained over time, squares of carpet being swapped out after wear and staining have had their way.

It’s my hope that by sharing this, you see that “going green” at the office need not be a stale, costly, burdensome affair. I say, involve your staff in submitting ideas, and depending on the company culture, helping implement them!

Readers: What’s your thoughts on the value of greening office spaces, and what ideas do you have to do it interestingly and affordably?

Tom Szaky is the Founder and CEO of TerraCycle, Inc. a company that makes eco-revolutionary products entirely from garbage! TerraCycle, since its humble beginnings in a Princeton University dorm room, is committed to being a triple bottom line company. Tom at the ancient age of 19 learned about composting with worms. The concept of using tiny little worms to turn food waste into a powerful, organic fertilizer fascinated Tom, who was appalled by the amount of food discarded by his campus's cafeteria. Tom started TerraCycle with no investors from a friend's garage by building a Worm Gin where he could house millions of worms in a small area. He all but bankrupted himself and maxed out all his credit cards to build the machine. With the help of friends he would shovel pounds of rotten, maggot-infested food from the Princeton cafeterias. Without any money left over, Tom could not afford to buy bottles to package his fertilizer. That's when the sustainability gods smiled on Tom, who was up one night wandering the streets Princeton in search of an answer to his packaging dilemma. It just happened to be recycling night and Tom realized that millions of homes were putting billions of free bottles out on the curb once a week! That serendipitous moment set everything to follow into motion. Slowly he began to finance his infantile start up by winning business plan contests. Finally he hit the pay dirt! He won the million dollar grand prize at the Carrot Capital Business plan contest. However, the financiers of the contest wanted to move TerraCycle away from used bottles and away from it's environmental focus. Despite being on the verge of bankruptcy, Tom turned down the money. In the six years since then TerraCycle has grown to a multi-million dollar company that doubles in size every year. Still we are committed to our triple bottom line beginnings. Still making our products from other's people waste. Still based in an Urban Enterprise Zone in Trenton, NJ. Still a second chance employer. Find out how and why, here at

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