Produced and Directed by Dave Rizzotto and Shantel Hansen.

Redefining Waste

Redefining Waste

This docu-series features businesses and individuals doing positive work to serve as a catalyst in the wake of many doomsday-themed films on the environment. The series includes Patagonia’s garment recycling, New Belgium’s waste-water conversion to methane, and San Francisco’s recology program.


We live in a culture in which products are designed to be consumed and disposed of in volume. Rarely are consumers or manufacturers held responsible for the environmental repercussions of this model. As a result, individuals have lost touch with product origins and the impact of their consumption.

Redefining Waste is not a doomsday story. This series features spirited individuals that survive or create using waste. Their stories will educate and motivate attitudinal and behavioral change. The intent is for viewers to reflect on their relationship with waste, recycling habits, consumption patterns, and to take relevant action.


Redefining Waste is a documentary series, which features people redefining waste from canners scouring the streets for redeemables; to engineers powering their breweries with waste water; to architects constructing homes out of tires. 


Michael Reynolds is an architect, innovator, and founder of Earthships in Taos, New Mexico. For more than three decades, he has been using recycled materials to build self-sufficient, off-the-grid housing. When he looks at “waste,” Michael sees raw materials for sustainable living — structures that might someday shelter large numbers of people. By putting elbow grease behind his vision, Earthships can be found all fifty states and around the world. He feels that these Earthships are not only homes but symbolic ships that sail on the seas of tomorrow.


Patagonia is furthering their mission to redefine waste through their Common Thread Garment Recycling Program. Customers can bring back their old and worn Patagonia clothes by dropping them off in the “Drop Your Drawers” box at any Patagonia store. These garments are broken down and transformed into new clothes. The company’s goal is to make all of their garments recyclable.

Junkman music

Donald Knaack is a conservatory-trained percussionist and composer, and who is also known as “The Junkman.” Living and performing in Manchester, VT, he embarked on his journey by chance while seeking a particular pitch. He soon discovered that discarded materials, such as metal pipes and automobile parts, could produce tones not available in traditional instruments. In his hands, ski-poles become wind chimes, silverware becomes bells, and keys become cascading ripples of sound. When not in his studio producing his next Grammy-winning album, you can find Donald scouring junkyards and teaching young students about environmental issues.

Cathedral of Junk

I heard about the Cathedral of Junk while having coffee with an acquaintance in Austin, TX. We didn’t know the exact address of where the supposed “cathedral” was located, but we were guided roughly to the neighborhood. After some aimless wandering (and almost giving up the search), we saw a sign painted on a window; “Cathedral of Junk.” Bingo, this was the place. Not having an appointment, we knocked on the door and luckily someone (Vince the artist) answered. He shook our hands and said, “Go ahead and check it out.” I told him about our documentary project and he was game to be interviewed. During the interview, he shared his story about why and how he got started. We spent a good chunk of the day hanging out at the cathedral. It was really beautiful.

New Belgium Brewing

New Belgium Brewing Company, in Fort Collins, CO, is leading the charge in environmental stewardship. Not only do they commit 1% of their sales to environmental causes; they also redefine waste by treating their own waste-water on-site, in large flats powered exclusively by either methane gas derived from waste-water treatment or by wind power. While New Belgium Brewing claims to make “the best beer in the world,” they might just be making the best world by way of their beer.

Cash to Trash

El Cajon, CA — Meet Don, Jean-Paul, and Debbie local community members that redeem cans and bottles. They talk about how they collect from vendors or off the street and the stereotypes they face as recyclers.

Artist in residence - SF Recology

San Francisco, CA — Artist in Residence Program at Recology. Where some people see garbage, Recology sees the opportunity to reduce waste. Working together with residents and businesses, Recology has helped make San Francisco one of America’s greenest city.