Kids: Think you can't do anything to change the world until you get older? Fifteen-year-old Cassandra Lin would advise you to think again. Five years ago - when Lin was just 10 years old - she launched a project that has changed her community, and her world, for the better.
It all started in 2008, when Lin attended an eco-festival where she learned about biodiesel and how used cooking oil could be recycled into cheap, clean-burning energy. Not long after, Lin learned about families in her own community that could not afford to pay their electric bill and heat their homes. So Lin launched TGIF - Turn Grease Into Fuel - an initiative that partners local restaurants who are willing to donate their used kitchen grease with charities that help families who need heating assistance. It's one of those rare systems in which everyone involves receives real, tangible benefits for their participation - so everybody wins and the movement continues to grow.
Since its inception, TGIF has grown into a network of 113 restaurants, collecting over 4,000 gallons of grease per month. To date, TGIF has helped offset more than 2 million pounds of carbon dioxide emissions. The team also helped draft a bill requiring all businesses in Rhode Island to recycle their waste cooking oil. The Used Cooking Oil Recycling Act went into effect in January 2012.
This year, Lin earned a Brower Youth Award from the Earth Island Institute for her efforts towards ecological sustainability and social justice.
Still think you are too young to change the world? Check out this TedEx talk in which Lin explains how you too can be your own Superman:
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