Turning trash into treasure: Woman collects NYC garbage, gives it to farmers

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ByJim Dolan via WABC logo
Friday, February 5, 2021
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Vivian Lin quit her job as an architect and started Groundcycle, a company that picks up organic material from homes and puts it into the back of a minivan.

MIDWOOD, Brooklyn (WABC) -- The saying, "one person's trash is another person's treasure" really does apply to the business one woman from New York created.

Vivian Lin is up to her elbows in trash and she's never been happier.

Nine months ago, Lin was a successful architect with a whole big career ahead of her, a career that didn't involve getting her hands dirty -- ever.

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Then, last May, with the pandemic baring down on the city budget, New York canceled compost collections to save money, and Lin knew what that meant.

"When food scraps get sent to landfills, they produce methane gas, which is harmful to the environment -- worse than carbon emissions," Lin said.

But she knew that farmers love that organic trash.

"When all this stuff gets properly processed, it turns into this nutrient rich fertilizer. It's a beautiful cycle," Lin said.

So, she quit her job as an architect and started Groundcycle, a company that picks up organic material from homes and puts it into the back of a minivan.

The company sorts it and pays the farmers to take the organic waste, with users all around Brooklyn paying for the service to dispose of their waste properly.

Lin has two cars working to sort 50,000 pounds of garbage -- garbage she is turning into a business.

"All this material is so valuable," Lin said.

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