Many people would love to get paid to work at their dream job. Often a career change springs from a passion that blooms into a business. Harker Heights resident Michelle Pace, 36, is living her passion by turning trash into a new business.

In December, she started The Green Plant from her home, a residential and commercial composting pickup service in Harker Heights, Killeen and Copperas Cove.

“I see loads of trash going to the landfill every week that could be composted; it’s so wasteful,” said Pace, an avid gardener for years.

The New Mexico native felt burned out from a decade as a social worker in Hospice. After a divorce, the single mother of two girls contemplated her next move.

“I geek out at the idea of being self-sustaining and had this idea that I had to make happen.”

Cyclepreneur is the term for a small business, like The Green Plant, that offers recycling services to the public.

An estimated 30 percent of the trash the average household produces every day could be kept out of the landfills through recycling and composting, according to the U.S. Composting Council.

Pace’s path through trash started in October with internet research on composting companies, such as Compost Peddlers in Austin, and speaking with a company in Boston.

The Workforce Solutions of Central Texas assisted her in making a business plan and calculating start-up costs.

“The good thing about this business is it has very little overhead; I invested only $500,” she said.

Its supplies consist of 5-gallon white buckets she bought at Lowe’s, along with compostable plastic liners. A graphic designer friend created the green plant logo that Pace spray-painted on each bucket.

For $5 a week, a client receives one bucket, which usually fits under most kitchen sinks. In it, they can put coffee grounds, egg shells, vegetable waste, fruit scraps and paper, cardboard but no magazines, meat, dairy products, fats, grease and pet waste.

Pace sends a reminder message to the client the night before pick-up to leave the bucket outside. She weighs the bucket before taking it to Slice of Heaven Micro Farms in Harker Heights, where the scraps are used in its composting.

A client receives one point for each pound of scraps. Those points can be redeemed at local businesses for a discount on products and services.

So far, Pace has partnered with Christy’s Lawn Care, Slice of Heaven, which sells goat’s milk and handmade soaps and lotions, and is developing relationships with Hidden Falls Nursery and Garden Center, plus So Natural Organic Restaurant & Market.

She is looking to add more partners as her business expands. Another future plan is to take classes from the Bell County Master Gardener Program to become a master composter.

A natural introvert, Pace took a big step out of her comfort zone by joining Toastmasters and as a vendor at the annual Spring Fling Event recently at the activities center. She is also doing presentations in area schools on composting and sustainability knowing children make great messengers. “When a child gets excited about something, they take it home where their parents pick up on it and often start doing it too,” she said.

Pace’s own daughters, Abigail, 5, and Olivia, 7, love playing in the dirt with her. Their backyard boasts a garden spot for planting heirloom tomatoes and peppers. A compost area made from wooden pallets is filled with leaves and scraps where they turn over the mixture.

Setting a positive example for her children to follow is extremely important to Pace.

“I want to show my daughters that it’s OK to take a risk in life and still stay true to your passion, like I did.”

For more information, call The Green Plant, 254-393-0504 or go to FaceBook: The Green Plant Biz.

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