What started as a lesson about recycling and getting rid of excess stuff for Ryan Metzger and his young son Owen, has now turned into a full service for people living in Seattle and the Eastside.
Ridwell is a recycle service that for $10-14 a month will come to community members’ doorsteps and recycle items such as light bulbs, electronics, clothes hangers, Styrofoam, plastic bags, clothing and even Halloween candy. The service was created as an eco-friendly approach to save more items from going to landfills that aren’t covered by city services. The service also gives new life to items people no longer want.
“It was sort of a response to how our house was piling stuff up,” Metzger said. “We had a clothing pile, the electronics pile, the Styrofoam pile, that kind of thing.”
He quickly realized during the project that not only was it hard to find places that would accept some of the items, but many of his neighbors were struggling with the same problems.
Each time the father and son duo set off with loads of stuff, neighbors would donate their own unwanted items creating a sort of recycling carpool. Driving house to house and rounding up recyclable goods, Metzger would later model Ridwell off of this experience. Today, Metzger has roughly 10 employees who make pickups for the service, which covers neighborhoods in Seattle, Mercer Island and now Kirkland.
“It really showed that there was this big demand in the Pacific Northwest in that people wanted to do good with their stuff, whether it’s reusing or recycling and so that’s sort of what lead us to the opportunity to create Ridwell,” Metzger said.
Metzger explained every two weeks pickups are made for five specific categories with the fifth category being a rotating item.
“For the rotating categories, the way that works is we’ll find a nonprofit or nonprofits will come to us and say, ‘We really need winter coats because it’s getting cold outside and we serve homeless people throughout the area,’” Metzger said.
Metzger said this category changes depending on the need, sometimes it’s a call for eyeglasses, other times its holiday-related like leftover Halloween candy that’s donated to the nonprofit Birthday Dreams or perhaps a new school year is on the horizon and there’s an added need for school supplies.