Stuck in Wellington, living off of savings and struggling to find work, 20-year-old Jake Banks was in a tough spot.
Fast forward a few months, the young entrepreneur is now making a name for himself in the Rangitīkei town of Marton, solving a years-old problem for residents, while saving the planet at the same time.
Banks recently founded the Marton Recycling Hub, a service where he collects Marton residents' recycling from the curbside, and transports it to the recycling depot operated by the Rangitīkei District Council.
The town doesn't have a council-operated recycling collection service, but does operate a depot, albeit with extremely limited hours that are often not accessible for many residents, Banks said.
"Marton just doesn't have it. I grew up in Nelson. Recycling collection is a big thing there,"
Three years ago, Banks moved to Wellington after leaving Nelson where he had found himself in trouble after mixing with the wrong crowd.
After spending some time in Wellington and Tauranga, Banks eventually followed his grandparents to Marton, where he met some new mates and floated the business idea on social media.
"I put a post up on Facebook in Marton in one of the groups, asking if it's ever been done or if the council were going to do something about it. A lot of people said that they'd like it," Banks said.
"I just thought, 'I'll do it'. I need to make a bit of an income, and anything you can do helps."
Banks charges "a few dollars" for each collection, collecting the recycling on a trailer, which he then drops off to the recycling centre.
The up-and-coming local business currently has around 45 customers on its books, but Banks is open to more.
"I've put it out there to see who is keen."
Banks said the community response had been strong.
"I've had people on Facebook who have been really keen on the idea. I've had groups like Project Marton and some businesses talking about how to support the idea.
"People in Marton have been very supportive."
Jake Banks can be contacted on email@example.com