Cassandra Lin

14-year-old founder of Project TGIF

Cassandra is the 14-year-old founder of Rhode Island-based Project TGIF (Turn Grease Into Fuel).

Cassandra was inspired to act after she discovered that people in her own town in Rhode Island could not afford to heat their homes. New England winters are extremely harsh, and she couldn’t even imagine all of the families who were struggling to heat their homes. Living in a small town in Rhode Island where everyone knows each other, she wanted to do everything she could to help her community. The most rewarding part of doing this kind of community service for her is knowing that every gallon of grease the program receives is turned into biodiesel to help economically-stressed families.

Between the 113 restaurants participating in the program as well as the nine residential recycling centers that we have set up in five towns/cities, we collect over 4,000 gallons of grease per month. ONe hundred percent of the proceeds go towards emergency heating assistance. Project TGIF is a win-win situation. The environment wins because they are using biodiesel, a clean-burning alternative to petroleum-based diesel, to heat homes. By the EPA’s calculations, Project TGIF has offset almost one and a half million pounds of carbon dioxide from entering the atmosphere. The needy families win because they’re being provided with heat. The group has donated 14,600 gallons of BioHeat (approximately $56,000) to five local charities, allowing 146 families to stay warm in the winter. Project TGIF also drafted and helped introduce a bill in the state of Rhode Island that mandates that all businesses have to recycle their oil. The bill was signed into law and went into effect on January 1, 2012. All in all, the project has impacted the environment, the community and the state of Rhode Island.