Nat Geo's 'Garbage Moguls' Wednesday, Earth Day a no miss

Earth day sees National Geographic's excellent documentary, "Garbage Moguls" come to the smallscreen.

Kites fashioned from Oreo® cookie wrappers. Spiral notebooks from old cereal boxes. Pencils from rolled newspaper.  Coming to a superstore near you are ingenious products made entirely of garbage. 


The brilliant minds of TerraCycle, Inc. are featured in this illuminating new National Geographic Channel special, premiering on Earth Day.

The media reports the loss of 11,000 American jobs a day, never to return, but this doc will give you hope and possibly an idea for a career. 

This documentary is a must-see for children to learn of alternative vocations that are lucrative as well as eco-conscious.

These “eco-capitalists” of the pioneering company TerraCycle, Inc., turn trash into treasure and churn out corporate profits by rummaging through dumpsters and landfills for materials, brainstorming innovative products … in a bid to make millions AND save mother Earth. 

In Garbage Moguls, premiering Earth Day, Wednesday, April 22, 2009, at 9 PM ET/PT, you are front-row to the team’s unorthodox creative process ¯ the brain-racking and stress, the silliness and infighting ¯ all working to build a profitable business with products composed entirely of trash. 

Once named the “The Coolest Little Start-Up in America!” by Inc. magazine, TerraCycle™ is redefining green business, focusing each day on the next million-dollar idea, even if that means spending hours scrounging through stinky garbage. 

“Garbage is a man-made idea, and we’ve created garbage because we haven’t created solutions for it,” explains CEO Tom Szaky, a 27-year-old eager brainiac who got his “Ah-Ha!” idea for TerraCycle as a Princeton freshman. “We take waste, we add design and produce mass merchandise.”  Once just a dorm-room operation, TerraCycle has grown from two employees to more than 50 and a multimillion-dollar venture that counts Wal-Mart, OfficeMax, The Home Depot® and Target as clients. 

Garbage Moguls tracks the team’s work on two prototypes: a messenger bag for OfficeMax — made from old billboard materials and seat belts — and a kite made entirely of Oreo wrappers for Wal-Mart.

Sisters and graphic designers Lea and Dara are sent to the dump to search for 200 seat belts to be used in a design for messenger bags, only to return with 15 — hoping no one will notice! Albe, the PR guy and Tom’s right-hand man, has to rally the team to design kite prototypes that actually fly, including organizing a field trip to a local dump in search of supplemental materials. 

Everything — even the string used to fly the kite — needs to be from recycled trash. Albe then takes off his trash-diving suit and takes to the street with James, Albe’s PR partner in crime, for on-the-spot “marketing research,” with questions about the prototype messenger bag like “So you think you’d date a boy wearing a bag like this?”  

Rounding out the colorful Garbage Mogul team are Tiffany, the product designer, who must somehow make 20 samples of the messenger bag in less than a week; and Milton, the intimidating former ex-con turned factory supervisor, who runs a tight ship on deadline.

With only one week to produce a functioning kite, everyone has to come up with a possible design.  The team tackles this project with hilarious ideas and a collaborative spirit (sometimes!).

The success of the company’s first meeting with Wal-Mart buyers hinges on the prototype: If the kite crashes, so could the meeting; if the prototype succeeds, then Tom and his team will happily face the next challenge of mass-producing their product. 

About TerraCycle:

One of the only companies in existence that produces products entirely made of waste, TerraCycle stands in a category or “landfill” unto itself. But TerraCycle is more than just a company; it’s a group of people that has defined the power of a product made solely from waste.  Since its inception, TerraCycle has saved over 70 million drink pouches, 10.5 million cookie wrappers, and 3.1 million plastic bottles from ending up in a landfill. TerraCycle’s eco-friendly, affordable products are available at major retailers nationwide.

Tom Szaky’s first book, “Revolution in a Bottle: How TerraCycle Is Redefining Green Business,” will be available online and at bookstores nationwide beginning April 1.

Garbage Moguls is produced by Silent Crow Arts for the National Geographic Channel.  For Silent Crow Arts, producer and director is Melissa Kennedy, executive in charge of production is Tim Mann, executive producer is Matt Bennett and co-executive producer is Tom Szaky.  For National Geographic Channel, executive producer is Noah Morowitz, senior vice president of production is Michael Cascio and executive vice president of content is Steve Burns.

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