Proper Disposal Of Food Scraps Can Help Keep The Earth Healthy

Don't put us in the trash!

Recycling is what we've been encouraged to do for quite some time. Plastic bottles, aluminum cans and cardboard boxes most often come to mind. Consider what Mother Earth gives us repeatedly that can also be repurposed. Specifically, think of food scraps.

How many banana peels, watermelon rinds and discards from your chopped salads have gone into your trash? Approximately 25% of garbage consists of organic material and is often represented by unconsumed food or that considered inedible. Egg shells and tea bags are examples. Ever give any thought to what happens after that?

When placed in landfills, food waste eventually begins to rot and releases methane which is more potent than carbon dioxide when it comes to harming our atmosphere and accelerating climate change. It also contaminates the soil around it. In fact, 40% of food grown for consumption ends up back in the ground.

Enter Rust Belt Riders. It was formed in 2014 by Daniel Brown and Michael Robinson who began collecting food scraps on the backs of their bikes. Their motto became, "Feed People, Not Landfills." Rust Belt Riders utilizes their partners to help process food scraps into compost. They then use this scrap based compost as their primary ingredient in tilth soil products. This high quality, nutrient rich substance ultimately supports local gardens and farms. Later, Nathan Rutz joined the RBR effort by incorporating coffee grounds into the blend of reusable food products.

What began as an attempt to engage commercial entities such as restaurants and grocery stores (imagine the excess from those sources!) led to participation from everyday people. Ordinary citizens can now have food scraps picked up from their homes or they can personally take them to a Rust Belt Riders drop off station. Collection bins can be found at Lakewood Park (along Lake Road just west of the Oldest Stone House) or Madison Park, adjacent to the basketball court.

When taking items to a bin, it is preferable that food scraps be dumped directly into the container. No metal, plastic or styrofoam should be deposited. Using recyclable paper grocery bags or BPI certified compostable bags are acceptable. At home, it is recommended that you use a large plastic bucket with a lid to house food waste until you make your delivery or have scraps taken away by a RBR representative.

If you want to be a part of this program, sign up at Be advised there is a minimal monthly fee. The number of members currently enrolled includes 403 who use Lakewood drop-off locations and 143 participating in pickup services.

If you have a home with a yard, you can also create a compost pile outside. Should you be a gardener, you will discover how valuable this can be to beautifying your outdoor space while doing something beneficial for the environment. For information on how to get started with your own composting, go to the Cuyahoga County Solid Waste District website.

Let's face it. We cannot wait for governments alone to tackle these issues. Nor can we depend on big business to take the lead. However, with that in mind, we should acknowledge nearby establishments who are working with Rust Belt Riders in this important cause. Some commercial partners include: Phoenix Coffee, Rising Star Coffee, Noble Beast, Blackbird Baking Company, Gatherings Kitchen and Lakewood City Schools. Regional participants include Heinen's Grocery Stores, Case Western Reserve University and the Cleveland Clinic.

Poet and novelist Johann Wolfgang von Goethe said, "Let everyone sweep in front of his own door, and the whole world will be clean." If we all, as individuals, do our small part, collectively we can make a big impact on the health of our planet. Closer to home, we can keep Lakewood beautiful too! Joining Rust Belt Riders is one way to begin.

Now that this has given you food for thought, you may never look at that avocado pit or squeezed lemon the same way, will you? Do what you can to keep it safe for everyone for years to come.

To contact Rust Belt Riders call 216-800-4651.

Adelaide Crnko is a Lakewood resident who wants to keep our planet beautiful and healthy.

Adelaide Crnko

Lakewood resident who wants to keep our planet beautiful and healthy

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Volume 19, Issue 9, Posted 12:21 PM, 05.03.2023