A Peek at the Fun Side of Recycling: TV Show Human Resources by TerraCycle

Great news for environmentalists and reality TV junkies alike: TerraCycle’s reality television show Human Resources premieres its third season Friday, August 26 on Pivot.

What is Human Resources?

Described as “The Office” meets “Project Runway,” Human Resources brings viewers behind the scenes and into the fast-moving environment of the TerraCycle office and the pandemonium that ensures.

For those of you who are not familiar, TerraCycle is an international recycling company “Eliminating the Idea of Waste” through corporate sponsorship of various programs for recycling common household waste, the development of pre- and post-consumer waste technologies, blog posts, and much more. Committed to recycling the “unrecyclable,” TerraCycle works with companies putting forth the resources to find solutions for waste streams that fall outside the traditional recycling infrastructure.

Can a reality show manage to make recycling fun? Recycling is one of the most commonly understood aspects of sustainability and environmentalism for consumers, but it doesn’t mean that it is the most entertaining of topics. Early on, we realized that an important balance had to be struck between TerraCycle’s message of sustainability and recycling processes, and an entertaining premise that viewers would come back to.

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What Makes this Show Different?

Shot on location in Trenton, New Jersey, right off the bat, Human Resources takes place in a “trashy” office environment: the central conference room is made of clear plastic soda bottles, vinyl records built into desk dividers, desks made of doors, graffiti covers every wall, and a “carden” (an old convertible stacked on a mountain of old tired) is overrun with fresh mint in the building’s courtyard. Visually interesting, TerraCycle’s reality show exposes viewers to a somewhat exotic locale featuring unconventional décor and no shortage of color.

It is the TerraCycle Design team’s job to look at objects like a Styrofoam cooler and a wool winter coat and think that the two seemingly unrelated objects can be upcycled into a totally new product with an entirely new function, like an ottoman, but viewers have the same freedom. Viewers can get ideas about different uses and perspectives for items commonly regarded as trash and use their imaginations to embark on their own upcycling journeys. If some people watch the Real Housewives for the clothes, some may watch Human Resources for the DIY inspiration.

Integration of Fun and Facts on Human Resources

We have achieved a balance between the fun and the factual by integrating TerraCycle projects, mission goals and events into each episode, and giving them a spin on our corporate culture by highlighting what really makes TerraCycle tick: its people. If the first step to enacting social change is raising awareness, this awareness is generated by holding the attention of the general public, and keeping it.

Human Resources is entirely unscripted and features real employees of the growing sustainability startup, including Tom Szaky, the 34-year-old CEO and founder who dropped out of Princeton to pursue TerraCycle full-time. Past episodes have given viewers dynamic look at our Materials Sales team as they struggle to find a recycling solution for dirty diapers, chronicled the friendly intra-office competition that a boys vs. girls “recycle-a-thon” (with collegiate Greek-life recruits, no less) inspires, and followed our Design team down the rabbit hole of turning items bound for landfill into valuable, usable works of art.

Filming three seasons of reality television has been a wild ride, but it’s been invaluable to our company’s message. While we can’t say for sure that Human Resources will galvanize greater support for mainstream environmental programming, it’s a good start nonetheless. The success of the show is proving that people are interested in reality TV that goes beyond the Jersey Shore club scene and D-list celebrity drama, and can see the fun in a young, mission-driven company from Trenton, NJ.

Get caught up and watch Human Resources Season One in its entirety for free online for a limited time on YouTube.

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About the Author

Founded in 2001, TerraCycle, Inc., is the world’s leader in the collection and repurposing of hard-to-recycle post-consumer waste, ranging from used chip bags to coffee capsules to cigarette butts. Each year, across 20 countries, TerraCycle collects and repurposes billions of pieces of waste, donating millions of dollars to schools and charities in the process. To learn more about TerraCycle or get involved in our recycling programs, please visit www.TerraCycle.com