Cara Basmajian pictured with her invention, the Ecocan.

Mira Costa High School grad and Manhattan Beach resident Cara Basmajian hurried out of the South Bay Galleria in 2012 after buying some cosmetics and toiletries in preparation to meet some friends for a trip into the local mountains. When she got home and started opening her new purchases, she realized that most of it was recyclable, but heading for her trashcan.

“From there a light bulb just went off,” Basmajian recalled. “I was like, ‘OK, there has to be something on the market to solve this issue. I looked everywhere, stores, online and there just wasn’t a solution.”

A few years later, Basmajian began developing the idea for the Eco Can, a dual recycling and trash can for home or office use. She said it was a “simple” idea to create a clean, aesthetically pleasing looking trash can.

“There is a lip on one side and a pocket on the other side,” she said of the plastic can that is split into two sections. “It slides right into place so they connect and they easily slide in and out. They attach and detach. You empty into the respective bins.”

Basmajian graduated from Mira Costa in 2010, before attending University of California, Berkeley. She suffered from a chronic illness when she was a child. It flared up when at Cal, so she came home to be closer to her doctors and she enrolled at UCLA. She interned for the Los Angeles Kings and applied for law school, but her gut told her to pursue her idea of the Eco Can.

At first she didn’t know where to start, but Basmajian said she received enormous support from the beach cities community.

“I was surprised to see how generous people were with their time and how much they wanted to help,” she said. “Without them encouraging me around here I would not be this far for sure.”

Basmajian also wants to give back. For every unit sold, she will donate a meal to the Children’s Hunger Fund, which feeds children and refugees around the world.

“With this product there’s obviously a social mission to help the environment, to increase and encourage recycling, but I want to give back in as many ways as I can,” she said.

The website, will be up and running Thursday, Feb. 18.

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