Preserving the Environment

The Group Pedaling to a Cleaner Earth

October 30, 2014
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The Group Pedaling to a Cleaner Earth
East Side Compost Pedallers collects food waste to be composted by local urban farms, schools and community gardens in Austin, Texas. East Side Compost Pedallers via Facebook
How can bikes be used to divert waste from landfills?

What would you think if saw someone riding a bike with a bunch of garbage bins attached to it?

For residents in Austin, Texas, this site isn’t uncommon. That’s because since December 2012, the East Side Compost Pedallers (ESCP) have been riding around, collecting trash to be composted by local urban farms, schools and community gardens.

“Scrapple” is how the cyclists affectionately refer to the compostable food waste which they collect. Currently, the group is comprised of seven bikers who serve residences in east Austin and neighborhoods by the University of Texas, as well as local businesses such as DropBox and small cafes.

Cyclists are equipped with custom-built, heavy-duty Metrofiet cargo bikes that can carry 55 gallon barrels totaling 250 pounds each. They also have the option of riding retro-filled pedicabs, which can carry barrels weighing 800 pounds each.

The for-profit organization charges for its services: For residences, it’s $4 per week, while the cost varies for businesses depending upon their size and the amount of bins required.

Over the past two years, ESCP has seen a growing client base and massive results. Among its achievements, the group can boast that it has redirected more than 190,000 pounds of scrapple from landfills, produced 50,000 pounds of compost, reduced the costs of composting by $5,000 for farmer patrons and stopped the emission of about 30 tons of methane, according to Good.

Their clients have also noticed how beneficial the service has been, too. Composting for the past 27 years, the East Side Café started using ESCP six months ago. So far, the café has redirected 7,155 pounds of waste and prevented more than a ton of methane emissions.

Perhaps the most defining feature of the group, though, is their drive to improve the environment and the community.

“East Side Compost Peddallers are pioneering the compost movement in Austin,” Elaine Martin, Eastside Cafe’s chef and owner, tells Good. “They’re out there pedaling every day, and you can tell they’re passionate about what they’re doing and want to make our community a better place to live. It’s great to work with people who care about your neighborhood as much as you do.”

And with that, keep pedalling, please.

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