Tom Szaky, Eco-entrepreneur, UCC Grad

Find a list of schools

Cereal box notebooks. Oreo messenger bags. Kool-Aid packet pencil holders.

Eco-entrepreneur Tom Szaky, 29, has taken the concept of the three Rs a step further with his big idea to eliminate the idea of waste.

"We have started toward that goal, but it will take decades to truly achieve a waste-free system," Szaky says. "What we have already achieved is changing the way people view and think about waste."

Through his company TerraCycle, billions of pieces of previously non-recyclable garbage are diverted from landfills and incinerators, then recycled and upcycled to make more than 1,500 new "eco-friendly" products sold in major retailers. More than 21-million people in 15 countries have signed up to join his green movement.

Born in then Communist Hungary in 1982, he remembers growing up poor in Budapest, where his parents were doctors but earned the same as everyone. The family moved to Canada when he was eight, and Szaky is grateful to his parents for giving him the opportunity to study at private school.

"I loved going to school — it just suddenly felt like opportunity was oozing from the walls," he says of Upper Canada College, a boys' school in Toronto, Ontario, where he developed his entrepreneurial dreams and grew to care about the environment.

Today his family’s Trabant — "an old Communist car that can hardly go uphill" — is only a distant memory of his childhood in Hungary. Szaky — who admits he drives a BMW convertible today but recycles and composts religiously at home — is now living the life of opportunity that Canada, his private school and mentors along the way opened up for him.

Learn more about Terracycle.

—Christl Dabu

Find Private Schools:

In the spotlight:

Latest Articles

Sustainability, responsibility, and accessibility (in service of student success)  
(May 15, 2023)

Vancouver Island private schools  
Find the best private and independent schools on Vancouver Island (May 11, 2023)

Sudbury private schools  
Find the top independent schools in Sudbury here (February 22, 2023)

Fredericton private schools  
Find the top independent schools in Fredericton here (February 22, 2023)

Preparing for the future  
Learn about your U.S. college and university choices (February 21, 2023)


By logging in or creating an account, you agree to Our Kids' Terms and Conditions. Information presented on this page may be paid advertising provided by the advertisers [schools/camps/programs] and is not warranted or guaranteed by or its associated websites. By using this website, creating or logging into an Our Kids account, you agree to Our Kids' Terms and Conditions. Please also see our Privacy Policy. Our Kids ™ © 2023 All right reserved.