Mike Garver, Houston, Texas 2015 Pat Franklin Courageous Spirit Award
Nicknamed “the Trashman of Buffalo Bayou,” businessman, realtor and mechanical engineer Mike Garver became well known around Houston for his efforts to remove floating trash from the bayou (which eventually flows into Galveston Bay) with a vacuum boat he designed for the purpose. Mike founded Plastic Pollution Texas, focused on deposits for beverage containers, and then transitioned to Texans for Clean Water, a broader-based effort addressing single use plastic bags and polystyrene waste as well as container deposits.
A 1960 graduate of the University of Kentucky, Mike eventually settled in Texas where he co-founded BRH-Garver, a partnership that pioneered the technique of microtunneling and the development of trenchless technology in North America. Microtunneling is the use of a laser- guided tunneling machine to install pipeline without disruption to city streets.
As a successful businessman, Mike has an innate understanding of the connection between keeping empties out of the environment and ensuring that manufacturers have access to a high quantity and quality of recyclable materials. Though he “wasn't born an environmentalist,” he says, “I guess I would call myself an environmentalist now.”