Mother and Son Start Recycling Business to Help Town Go Green

When they saw that their community lacked the resources to properly recycle their trash, they stepped in to help.

"If we don't recycle today, that's going to be real bad for the kids of the future."

This might as well be the slogan for northern Michigan-based recycling business, "Sunshine Recycling." Melissa Zelenak and her son, Carson Rubis, started the company to help their community in Antrim County become greener. It's also helped Rubis, who has Asperger's Syndrome, find purpose.

The mother and son team offers a pick up service for homes and businesses to make sure their trash is sorted and recycled correctly. And they do it all for a reasonable price.

"I don't want anyone to not recycle because it can't be convenient or costs," Melissa Zelenak, the business' co-founder, told 9&10 News.

Aside from their pick up service, Sunshine Recycling offers educational outreach programs where they teach children about recycling with the help of their robot mascot, Sunshine. They prepare literature to hand out with colorful illustrations and logos drawn by Rubis himself.

Rubis has Asperger's Syndrome, and he's hoping his work with Sunshine Recycling will send a message to other people with disabilities that they can find a career with a purpose, like he has.

"Most people with disabilities don't have jobs and they are often mislabeled being like they can't do anything right because they've got these personality quirks. They've got something 'wrong' with them," Rubis said.

Rubis and his mom have big goals of expanding their business model, and they want to help others with disabilities learn how to start their own companies, too.

"We've got directions. A step- by- step plan," Zelenak said.

"He's my kid you know, I want the best for him and I see Sunshine as something he can do for the rest of his life. This is his legacy." - Melissa Zelenak

Sunshine Recycling is one of ten businesses competing for a $10,000 grand prize at the Antrim County Pitch Night on November 9th. Should they win, Zelenak and Rubis plan to use some of the prize money to build a life-size replica of their robot mascot to bring to classrooms and use as a teaching tool.

"A big robot that when she walks into a classroom, kids are going to go 'ahh, wow,'" Zelenak said. "They're going to remember to recycle from that little tiny age."

To learn more about Sunshine Recycling, click here.

Do you have an idea to help improve your community? Maybe you don't have the resources (or time!) to start a company, but you can start on a smaller scale by organizing a clean-up effort, or sharing helpful information about recycling guidelines in your community.

Sign up and sign in to tell the world all about it. Let's "Start something good" together.

(Source: images & video Sunshine Recycling Facebook)

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