Humans are the only species on this planet that don’t follow one fundamental law of nature.
For millions of years, all life on this planet abided by simple rules to ensure that one's waste was another's food. There was no such thing as landfills or pollution.
Before homo sapiens, there was perfect harmony with the resources that were consumed and reused. It was a phenomenon, like gravity or aerodynamics, in equilibrium and without inefficiencies.
Then we came along and decided that law doesn’t apply to us. Bad news: we’re not exempt. Good news: we have a solution.
At some point along the way—10,000 years ago to be more exact (when agriculture first made an appearance) — man concluded that earth was created for us, and that we must conquer it. The story we told ourselves (and still do) included the phrases: our ocean, our wildlife, our resources, our planet.
See what humans did there? "Our" implies ownership.
We explain away the pollution of the oceans, the destruction of the rainforests, and the expansion of landfills—regarding the world as a sort of human life-support system.
In our conquest of the world, we have simultaneously devastated it.
There’s only one way out of this, and fortunately it’s something we’re pretty good at. We need to increase our mastery of the world.
Before we try to save the planet, we all need to be on the same team.
Reduce. Reuse. Recycle.
Stop using plastic.
We've all heard the pleas to use less, do less, care more. These aren't wrong, but the attempts are fruitless. Doing less is not a solution. It's a marketing campaign rooted in scarcity and fear.
Humans need the tools to do the right thing. We simply need to evolve—something every. other. species. on this planet has had to figure out at one point in their existence.
It's not too late.
So let's stop the blaming of others and focus on building the tools we need. Let's create an entirely new system that enables every human on this planet to play a part in eliminating the concept of waste.
So what does evolving look like?
The marketing campaign based on scarcity that's been running for generations isn't working, so let’s try a new approach.
With the right tools, it's not about doing or using less, it's about making it easy and rewarding to do the right thing so you can enjoy more.
At Replenysh, we believe there's a few steps to making this happen:
1. Build the infrastructure
2. Make it easy for people to do the right thing
3. Provide a new moment for brands to connect with customers
Let's walk through each one.
Current infrastructure to collect reusable materials and products is broken, and it’s built on the backs of the waste industry. This leads to a few bad things:
1. Expensive - The standard trucks that collect materials in today's world are some of the most expensive vehicles on the road. Sending a massive truck out to pick up a few items isn't worth it. There's a reason fees for household waste collection have increased in nearly every market in the past decade.
2. Contamination - "Throw everything in one bag" (aka single stream) is not a good solution. Not only has it been proven to not increase recycling rates, it devalues the once clean materials, leading them to not be reused. By compacting everything together, those large trucks don’t mitigate the problem—they only make things worse.
3. Lack of Trust - When everything is mashed together and treated as waste, there's no way for you to know where those materials ended up—it’s a black box. You might think you are doing the right thing, but how do you know? The lack of data and transparency in the process only perpetuates the lack of participation, because why should you care?
So, how do we fix this broken infrastructure?
1. Decentralize collection - Think about how many cargo vans, trucks and trailers drive empty every day. Now look at all the empty space in backyards and business parking lots. By utilizing idle assets and empowering entrepreneurs with the right tools, we can create millions of new jobs and scale this solution anywhere in the world.
2. Incentivize sorting - If every item in your house had a tag with how much it was worth on it, wouldn’t you think twice before throwing it in the trash? By combining technology to value each item with an easy and enjoyable user experience, we can make sure materials retain their value all the way to their destination.
3. Transparency = Trust - Simply knowing where your items go and what they're turned into increases participation and willingness to do the right thing. To track items all the way through the reverse supply chain, software needs to be embedded at each segment of the process (recycling & refurbishment centers, processing mills, factories, etc).
Getting people to change their habits all comes down to the experience and building trust.
For example, before 2008, it was unthinkable to share your home with strangers. By designing an entirely new experience of booking online and building trust, Airbnb was able to build a new solution to make anyone feel at home anywhere in the world (not to mention, create a new source of income for millions of hosts).
We started with a question: "What if every time you finished a product, you could get it picked up and know exactly where it goes?"
By working backwards from that question, we're building an experience that people love. From non-intrusive alerts that tell you the ETA of your collector to engaging maps that build trust by showing you where things end up, it culminates in an entirely new experience, one that you want to be a part of.
Okay...so we're starting to evolve now. Good job, human. But wait, who's going to pay for all this?
Shouldering the cost to recover materials has historically fallen on the end-consumer or the municipality you live in.
Seems weird that it's our responsibility, as a customer, to help a brand get their materials back, right?
This is the root of the problem. Because nobody wants to pay for collection, we push the issue aside and keep extracting new resources from the earth, then dumping everything in landfills and the oceans we (supposedly) love. Rinse and repeat as if we had infinite resources.
How do we get brands to care AND provide them positive ROI to get their products back?
We call it the moment of product completion.
As a brand, imagine if you could connect with your customer at the exact second they're done using your product. That’s a prime time to try and win them back.
By enabling this brand new moment, we're creating the first positive-ROI take-back program that can cover the cost of collection, the biggest roadblock to us evolving.
Brands align their values with customers, build loyalty, and get an entirely new way to sell or simply say thanks for doing the right thing.
Customers get an amazing new way to ensure their products don't end up in the landfill and create meaningful connections with brands they love.
Cities aren't stuck with the ever-growing burden of collection costs.
Entrepreneurs get empowering new tools to build collection businesses and make a positive impact in their community, anywhere on the planet.
Landfills are eliminated, the concept of waste dies and humans thrive.
Do you want to help solve this problem and build tools to help humans evolve? Check out our available positions
Are you a brand interested in connecting with customers in a new way, when they're done with your product? Let's recover your materials
Interested in helping your community thrive and start collecting materials at your home or business? Become a host
Want to rally your community, give your products back to brands, and start making an impact today? Join Replenysh
See what we're building at Replenysh and learn about circularity.