Edwards finds green niche that makes a difference

Small Business Spotlight for The Memphis Daily News

Nov. 11, 2013

When Madeleine Edwards considered returning to the workforce in 2008 following time as a stay-at-home mom, she said she wanted to do “something that I felt like made a difference.” She was looking for a “green job.”

What she ended up doing would satisfy her environmental soft spot as well as the first rule of entrepreneurship – she found a niche and filled it.

It was a niche she didn’t even know existed. In her spare time she had been helping her brother-in-law collect plastic water bottles from Presbyterian Day School, where he worked, and hauling them to a recycling center. He suggested the school might be able to pay her for her time.

Madeleine Edwards of Get Green Recycling has a list of clients that include restaurants, bars, schools, offices, churches and retailers.

(Photo: Andrew J. Breig)

From these altruistic beginnings grew Get Green Recycleworks. Edwards has a list of clients that include restaurants, bars, schools, offices, churches and retailers who contract with her to pick up and haul away recyclable items. The city of Memphis does not provide such services to businesses and the larger waste management firms won’t typically accommodate the smaller organizations that Edwards counts as customers.

The business foundation was built after reading an article on Margot McNeeley and her nonprofit startup Project Green Fork, which helps restaurants reduce their environmental impact.

“At the end of the interview I put a plea out there and I said, ‘If there is anyone out there that wants to start a recycling business, that’s the missing piece to making this whole Project Green Fork thing happen,’” McNeeley said.

Edwards responded and the two women came together with McNeeley helping Edwards formulate a business plan.

“All along the way, we’ve grown together and kind of been unofficial partners,” Edwards said.

People tend to confuse her operation with Project Green Fork, or think the two entities are intertwined. They are not.

Get Green’s collection trailer is wrapped in the Project Green Fork logo because McNeeley won a grant to buy the trailer, which Edwards leases from her. It’s a win-win, providing McNeeley’s nonprofit with regular income and Edwards with a large enough conveyance to handle her workload . . . (read more)