America Recycles Day
Every year on November 15th, we recognize America Recycles Day and the importance of recycling. It is a reminder that we should challenge ourselves to do more to promote a circular economy and reduce the amount of waste in our environment.
This belief in doing more inspired me and partners to launch Rust Belt Riders. In 2014, we recognized two serious problems impacting the community: food waste unnecessarily heading to landfills, and the need for a healthier, more equitable, and even regenerative food system.
We decided to start collecting food waste and composting it into soil products to help our region’s gardeners and farmers grow more of our own food locally. The simple act of diverting food waste from landfills enabled Rust Belt Riders and our partners to improve not only soil, but air, and water as well. Additionally, we are creating dignified jobs that are place-based and provide pathways toward employee ownership, and our work is tangibly and measurably slowing the global climate crisis. Little acts can have big impacts.
This is just one example of the circular economy: reusing discarded materials to create new opportunities to help improve the environment and economy. This same concept is also reducing plastic waste and textiles, to name a few pivotal environmental issues. Everywhere you look, there are countless examples and opportunities for new enterprises like ours to emerge if only we take the time to look at the staggering amount of everyday materials with a new lens—a lens of abundance instead of scarcity, circularity instead of linearity. Perhaps then we can assemble the building blocks for a healthier, more equitable, and sustainable future.
On America Recycles Day, and every day, let’s continue doing our part to support the circular economy and achieve a cleaner, healthier environment for all of us.
Daniel Brown is the co-founder of Rust Belt Riders in Cleveland.