Trash to Treasure: People Who Made Their Fortunes from Garbage
While certain industries are becoming increasingly over-saturated due to our modern lifestyles, there’s just one that most people seem to steer clear of: waste management. Oh, well, it’s really our loss since the waste industry rakes in millions of dollars every year, given the rates at which we dispose of things. In this article, we highlight five innovative people who dared to invest their time and energy into an industry most people would turn their nose at. It was more than worth it—these people turned their lives around and made a fortune from nothing but garbage.
1. Miranda Magagnini and Peter Strugatz
That countertop you’ve been eyeing for your new home just might be made of glass and cement. That’s right. This genius idea was thanks to none other than Harvard graduates Peter Strugatz and Miranda Magagnini, who founded the multimillion-dollar business, IceStone LLC. They convert unwanted glass and cement into countertops and even roadbeds. Beer bottles, window glasses, even the unwanted glasses on your face, nothing goes to waste! This company is no small fry either, because they frequently partner up with large organizations such as NASA and the Gates Foundation.
2. Maen Mahfoud
Most of us don’t really think twice about dumping our leftover food straight into the bin when we’re full. Not Maen Mahfoud, a Syrian-born UC Berkeley graduate who turned his passion for helping others into a thriving business. He founded the tech company Replate, which has created over 1.1 million meals for the poor and homeless since January 2016. The company has also expanded to over an impressive 300 cities. Considering that food waste is a huge problem around the world, Mahfoud has done so much good in such a short amount of time.
3. Dan Phillips
Like Maen Mahfoud, Dan Phillips has a heart of gold and only wants to help the unfortunate. That’s why he put his construction skills to great use by creating Phoenix Commotion. Not only does Phillips salvage construction materials, but he also uses them to build homes for low-income families. Dan Phillips also takes his charitable ways a step further by employing unskilled workers so they can gain specialized skills and experience that would allow them to seek employment elsewhere.
4. Maria Rios
Maria Rios is a one-woman show. While in college, she undertook a part-time job at a garbage removal company which served as inspiration for starting her own business. Once out of college, Maria wasted no time securing a loan which she used to purchase two dump trucks. Today, Maria is the proud owner of Nation Waste and is now living the life she has always dreamt of. She has been acknowledged by Fortune and Goldman Sachs for her amazing dedication and work ethic. Not only that but she plans on growing her business to over $15 million in yearly revenue!
5. Piet Hein Eek
For Piet Hein Eek, what started as an art project for his final exam at the Academy for Industrial Design, turned out to be a life-changing endeavor that would forever change the way he saw trash. You see, Piet creates art and even furniture that sells for hundreds and even thousands of dollars per piece using nothing but unwanted garbage. He creates just about everything ranging from eyewear to rugs. Today, several of his pieces can be seen in galleries all over the world and even at his restaurant.
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