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Environment

This Woman Raised $15,000 for Cancer Research by Recycling for 21 Years


Why Global Citizens Should Care
Over more than two decades, Gia Tran collected recyclable materials worth $15,000, which she donated to the BC Cancer Foundation, proving that recycling can have a positive impact on more than the environment. Approximately 300 million tons of plastic are produced every year, much of which ends up in the ocean. You can help fight against plastic pollution and climate change by taking action here.

Almost every day, 62-year-old Gia Tran goes to the BC Cancer Foundation's Office in Vancouver to hand over a wad of cash and a lot of love.

Tran has spent the past two decades collecting cans, plastic bottles, and other recyclables around the city, which she takes to recycling centers in return for deposit refunds, CBC reported. Tran then donates that money to the center, which funds cancer research and patient care. The foundation estimates that Tran has donated around $15,000 in total, and her 21-year commitment has made her a familiar face amongst the office staff.

"She comes in with a big smile, and she always says, 'I love everybody here, and I want to help people,’” said Dianne Parker, the receptionist at the foundation’s office, told CBC.

Take Action: Take the Pledge to #UnplasticthePlanet

The foundation’s workers look forward to seeing her infectious grin and kind contribution every weekday.

“She's just here because of the kindness of her heart, and that then spills into our whole office and it makes everybody smile and it makes everyone feel good," said Sarah Roth, CEO of the BC Cancer Foundation. "She is like the joy of our day when she comes, absolutely."

Tran collects bottles and cans on foot while walking around the Hasting-Main area. If she’s lucky it only takes 45 minutes, she says, but in the winter she’s traveled  up to an hour and a half.

"I walk. On the bus I only get one bag, not two bags," said Tran, adding that buses can be slow and drivers limit how many loads they’ll allow her to take onboard.

It doesn’t matter how far the walk or how intense the weather is — Tran is committed to helping others and cleaning up the environment.

The average person generates over 4 pounds of trash every day and about 1.5 tons of solid waste per year according to DoSomething.orgThe Aluminum Association reported that each year, Americans throw away about $1 billion worth of aluminum cans.

Read More: Simple Recycling Rules to Live By

"My kids say, 'Mom, I don't want you to go outside. It's too cold,'" Tran said. "I say: 'No, I go. I want to help people. I want to go to the hospital. Cancer. I help people.'”

Her love and passion for helping others motivates her to collect recyclables every day.

When asked what pushed her to do this for more than 20 years, Tran said, "I don’t know. People happy, I'm happy, too."