It is hard for most people to resist the allure of deep fried food, whether it’s chicken, falafel, or fish and chips. In 2008, Cassandra Lin, then a fifth-grade student, saw how the liters of cooking oil and grease used by restaurants could be recycled to help some of her neighbors heat their homes during cold Rhode Island winters.
Cassandra convinced local restaurants to leave their used cooking oil and grease at collecting centers instead of adding it to their trash as part of her Project TGIF (Turn Grease Into Fuel). Working with biodiesel refiners, biofuel distributors and charities, Project TGIF collects the grease, converts it into biodiesel, and distributes the fuel to local families for emergency heating assistance. As of 2013, TGIF has donated 80,000 liters of bioheat to six local charities, which have allowed 210 families to stay warm.
“My success story proves that a simple passion — in my case, the environment — can go a long way,” Cassandra said. She urges everyone to pursue their passion. “It can be anything, whether it is volunteering, sports, reading, anything! I challenge you to go out and do it. Use your energy for good. Who knows, you might even change the world!”