TerraCycle has always approached marketing in an unconventional way. We have to, really, considering the success of our business model is dependent on how engaged and motivated our consumers are. In a world with so many conflicts and globally relevant issues, getting people to realize the scope and scale of some of our most serious environmental issues is always an uphill battle.
Throughout the years, we have found that one of the best communications strategies to combat this has been writing content. Blogs, articles and op-ed pieces are great ways to share the company’s expertise, start new conversations, absorb public sentiment, share relevant and exciting news, and educate readers. And for a company that relies on an informed public to collect and send us their post-consumer waste, education is often the key.
Aside from writing blogs and acquiring content partnerships to achieve this, we have also had the opportunity to write two books about TerraCycle and our unique business model. We have found the books to be particularly effective, giving us an opportunity to fully unpack for readers the company’s values and the sustainability issues that drive our mission goals. More importantly, they give us an opportunity to talk about waste, recycling and other environmental issues in an approachable, engaging way. The reason is simple: If everyday people don’t understand the problem, how can we hope to motivate them into action?
This underlying question was one of the primary motivations behind our newest book, due to release on July 7. Make Garbage Great is a consumer-friendly coffee table book about waste, each chapter covering a different material (such as plastic, metal or organics). It contains the history of each material and its related waste streams, along with dozens of family-friendly arts and crafts, informative essays, hundreds of pictures, historical timelines, and resources meant to help readers make more sustainable decisions in their everyday lives. Most importantly, it tells a story about waste and consumption that anyone can understand.
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Sustainability isn’t always an accessible subject, especially considering the unwieldy academic tone many books and other forms of content in the space tend to adopt. Make Garbage Great avoids this altogether, giving consumers an easily digestible and relevant look into the world of waste in a fun, family-oriented format. It’s not just about pushing the TerraCycle brand — it’s about allowing anyone to enter the conversation.
Our push for accessibility and education was even a deciding factor in choosing the book’s format. While a short book or novel ends up tucked away on your bookshelf, a coffee table book sits on your living room table. It’s a conversation starter, something that you can pick up at any time and casually flip through. Even children can be engaged, flipping through the book’s pages to look at pictures or uncover new DIY projects they want to work on. It’s a household tool, one that will hopefully allow people — children and adults alike — to see waste like they’ve never seen it before. It also helped find us the ideal publisher — HarperCollins — via their HarperDesign imprint. A mainstream, major publisher such as Harper publishing the book gives it way more reach and credibility than we could create on our own.
Marketing to consumers with educational content is nothing new. Still, it can be especially important for sustainability-minded companies whose business models depend on having an informed, eco-conscious constituency. For TerraCycle, that means we need individuals to be aware of how much waste we generate annually, where the waste goes, and what the implications are for the future if we do nothing about it. The environment is a subject relevant to every single person on the planet, and Make Garbage Great will, we hope, finally allow everyone to join the discussion.