Make no qualms about it, I’m not a FarmVille kind of guy. At all. In fact, if FarmVille, CityVille, FrontierVille, or a Ville of any sort pops on my Facebook news feed, I’ll hide it without an ounce of hesitation. Call me what you will but these games and apps just aren’t my cup o’ social networking tea. Besides, I’m too busy posting Jazzercise clips from the 80s on my wall.


Yet, I’m quite intrigued by a certain new social networking game that I don’t think I’d mind seeing show up here and there on my news feed. And heck, I’m admittedly tempted to even start playing it myself. Launched by one of my favorite green companies, Trenton, N.J.-based TerraCycle, in partnership with TreeHugger and, the game in question is called Trash Tycoon and it’s being described as Facebook’s first “social upcycling game.”


Since I’ve never played a Facebook game, I’m not exactly sure how Trash Tycoon compares to other popular ones like the aforementioned Villes and Mafia Wars although I’m guessing the “mission” is similar in that users try to gain a bunch of points by doing something or other. I’m guessing that there’s also the unlocking of things, pet purchasing, and the exchange or virtual currency involved (bear with me … I haven’t played a computer game of any sort since circa 2002). In this particular instance, that something or other is collecting rubbish from a trashed cityscape —  plastic, paper, glass, etc. — and upcycling it into a nifty new functional creation much like Tiffany Threadgould and the other designers at TerraCycle do.



Explains TerraCycle:


In the game, players take the role of recycling entrepreneurs responsible for cleaning up a trash-strewn city; players earn game money and points by collecting trash and 'upcycling' it in various ways to create exciting new products out of trash just like TerraCycle does in real life. Players can even manage a worm farm and control their “worm families” in a mini-game within Trash Tycoon.

Cool. Glad to see TerraCycle's vermi-roots (the company's very first product was liquified worm poop plant fertilizer housed in reycled plastic soda bottles) incorporated into Trash Tycoon. The game itself is tied into TerraCycle’s fabulous, fundrasing Brigade waste collection programs so that users can earn virtual bonuses for upcycling in real life. Better yet, TerraCycle and the game’s creator, NYC-based social gaming startup Guerillapps, have teamed up to donate 10 percent of revenues from the game’s virtual currency to Each month, players can choose from three differing carbon offset projects to support.


Since I’m pretty much hopeless in further describing how the game works, head on over to the Trash Tycoon FAQ forum for further gameplay info. And although I’m guessing Trash Tycoon will appeal to the bored-at-work social gamers who already find themselves tending to digital chickens and harvesting online cherry trees on their lunch breaks, here’s hoping younger Facebook users engage as well and translate their virtual trash collecting and badge collecting into real life action.


Screenshots: Trash Tycoon

Matt Hickman ( @mattyhick ) writes about design, architecture and the intersection between the natural world and the built environment.

Game on: TerraCycle brings Trash Tycoon to Facebook
Hoping to inspire real life eco-action and give tired, old FarmVille a run for its money, TerraCycle launches Trash Tycoon, Facebook's first ever 'social upcycl