The Story Behind Rust Belt Riders
What Sparked the Interest
“Throwing away food should be as repugnant as smoking in a restaurant.” This thought-provoking quote came from Daniel Brown, a co-founder to the company Rust Belt Riders. Daniel Brown and Michael Robinson founded the company Rust Belt Riders between 2011 and 2013. The idea for a company began when Daniel Brown started a community garden in the St. Clair Community neighborhood. At the time he was also working at a restaurant called the Spice Kitchen and Bar. Daniel found a way to merge food waste with local community gardens by starting a company based around sustainability.
From the Ground Up
Rust Belt Riders started from the ground up. For the first 9 months of the business Michael and Daniel operated on bicycles. They attached a trailer to the back of a mountain bike and would go to local restaurants to collect food waste. Fast forward to 2019 where the Cleveland Clinic and University Hospitals are listed amongst their community partnerships. The founders don’t try to focus on the size of the company when evaluating whether or not they would make a good partnership. When asked about the requirements for a company to partner with them Daniel stated, “ If anybody eats at your place of work, Rust Belt Riders can work with you.” Their non-negotiables include a willingness to learn and the openness to try something new.
How it Operates
Their composting service operates much like a recycling company. Clients receive containers or bins to place food waste in. Along with the bins, Rust Belt Riders provide flyers showcasing what can versus cannot be placed into the bins. Once a week they collect the compost and take it back to their plant where the composting process begins. “Composting is a lot like baking a cake or following a recipe,” stated Daniel. “40% of a compost pile is food waste (this provides nitrogen) and the other 60% is wood chips.” The most important process in creating nutrient-rich soil through composting is incorporating air into the pile so anaerobic pockets don’t develop. Composting involves harvesting microorganisms. This means that creating an environment that is constantly provided oxygen allows these organisms to survive. After presenting all of this information there was still one pressing question that needed to be answered: Does it stink? Since composting is occurring naturally on a forest floor, it should smell no different than walking through a forest.
Partnering with Evarts Tremaine
Having employees that are well connected within the area and to local businesses is what brought Evarts Tremaine and Rust Belt Riders together. One of Daniel and Michael’s childhood friends started working for Evarts Tremaine as an insurance agent. He explained the importance of insurance and how insurance companies keep businesses protected. This one connection has allowed Rust Belt Riders to remain trusted partners of Evarts Tremaine for the past four years.
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Visit Rust Belt Riders here to learn more about their business or to become one of their partners.