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Garbage in, glasses out: Company turns Flint’s water bottle waste into eyewear business


There is a lot of concern over what to do with the plastic water bottles we use. 

Flint is one community that is grappling with this question in a big way.

In the wake of the water crisis, the city has had to rely heavily on water bottles for safe drinking water.

Ali Rose Van Overbeke, a metro Detroit native, foundedGenusee to turn that waste into eyeglasses, manufactured by Flint residents. 

In 2016, Van Overbeke was volunteering with the Red Cross during the Flint water crisis when she noticed how many plastic water bottles were being either thrown away or sold for profit to companies outside of Flint. After talking with her friend Jack Burns, they decided to start a business to deal with the problem.

Van Overbeke said they asked local residents what the biggest need was in Flint. The top response from lots of residents was jobs. So, Burns and Van Overbeke came up with an idea that would reduce the plastic waste proliferating in Flint while creating employment opportunities for residents.

Listen above to hear more about how Genusee got started, and how they use Flint's plastic waste to create their eyeglasses. 

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