Door-to-door recycler Ridwell expanding into West Seattle

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

We get – and appreciate! – reader tips about new businesses now and then.

Seldom, however, do they include as much excitement and enthusiasm as the tips we received about Ridwell expanding into West Seattle.

One person who identified herself as a happy customer in another neighborhood wrote, “This awesome new local company has a great story and an even better mission and they are coming to West Seattle next!”

Indeed they are – officially starting next Monday. If you haven’t heard of Ridwell, maybe you heard of its previous incarnation as Owen’s List, which began as a father-and-son adventure in recycling reusables, making a match between items no longer needed by some but much-needed by others.

We mentioned Owen’s List one year ago during its citywide diaper collection for WestSide Baby.

Since then, Owen’s dad Ryan Metzger joined with business partners to morph it into Ridwell: “Because Owen’s List was so popular, people would say, ‘can I pay you for what you’re doing?’.” Ridwell is based on Queen Anne, with some storage facilities in Ballard, and now, with the addition of West Seattle, serving pretty much the entire city. ”

Ryan was in West Seattle the other day as part of the expansion, so we sat down for a chat over coffee. He explained how Ridwell works: Subscribers get a porch bin and cloth bags for the types of material they currently collect – plastic film, styrofoam, “threads” (clothing etc.), light bulbs, batteries. They have a fifth “rotating” category that is generally the type of pickup that Owen’s List inaugurated – something to donate to an organization that needs it. (One collection that’s coming up will be kitchenware for refugee families.)

Ridwell finds the market for the material – plastic film and styrofoam, for example, are taken to Kent; the film eventually becomes the decking material Trex; the foam is compressed into a material that, Ryan says, is used in products such as picture frames.

You pay a monthly subscription fee – lower if you commit to a longer period (starting at $10/month currently) – for a pickup every two weeks. West Seattle will be Mondays, for starters. And while the accessibility issue means they are starting as a service mostly for single-family homes, Ryan says they want to serve more multi-family buildings and are interested in hearing from anyone who wants to be part of a pilot project.

The company is small now, still using cars rather than trucks to make most pickups – “we can fit 30, 40, 50 people’s (recycling) in a car!” – but expecting to grow beyond the Seattle city limits: “The response has been great!” enthuses Ryan.

And toward the goal of efficiency/sustainability – subscribers opt in for pickups via email or website – so if you don’t need one, they won’t stop by. You can find out more at getridwell.com.

11 Replies to "Door-to-door recycler Ridwell expanding into West Seattle"

  • confused March 12, 2019 (12:19 pm)

    I don’t understand why this is any different than our regular recycling system?

  • justme March 12, 2019 (12:22 pm)

    Wow, very cool! We’re getting better, together!

  • NW March 12, 2019 (1:06 pm)

    I look in recycle bins actually dumpsters in Seattle apartments are the worst of the worst recyclers, shame on you what you put it there! A lot of what we put out as trash and recycling also during transport in recycling trucks gets somehow deposited along the gutter broken down overtime and ends up in Puget Sound. 

  • KM March 12, 2019 (1:56 pm)

    This seems pretty cool, maybe they’ll add a pay-per-pickup in model in the future for those don’t need it bi-weekly. I only would use a service like this 2-3 times a year though (easy to avoid packaging, reusable batteries, longer lasting lightbulbs), but in the meantime it makes more sense to drop good off at Ikea or the Styro-recycling when I head that way on other errands.We know so much of what gets put into municipal recycling goes to the landfill anyhow, I would think specific, smaller-scale systems like this have a better recycling rate.

  • Chris March 12, 2019 (2:31 pm)

    We would like to find a recycler for several buffets families can use to start with,  plus a stack of wooden drawers with no dressers, etc..   Unknown how the drawer thing happened.   We have been trying to figure this out without stuff going to landfill .    We were thinking a carpenter could build a dresser(s) for someone.   We are just trying to figure this out.   Ideas?    If we see this right, Ridwell is not at that point yet????Thanks.

    • Elton March 12, 2019 (3:15 pm)

      There are Buy Nothing groups on Facebook for various parts of West Seattle.

    • aa March 12, 2019 (3:55 pm)

      Chris- you could try calling Second Use and/or Recology and see if either of them can take your stuff or offer suggestions. Recology has a store in Burien next to the new PCC . www.seconduse.com www.recology.com

  • Sara Volta March 12, 2019 (6:29 pm)

    I am really excited about Ridwell and have signed up. None of these things can go in regular recycling. To be able to put old shoes on my front porch instead of driving to a Nike store to recycle, or to save all my plastic and get rid or it regularly instead of having to remember to take it to the grocery, and to be able to donate to several partners, makes me happy. Does a lot of good. Thanks Ridwell!

  • Cindy Sabye March 12, 2019 (9:39 pm)

    I wish them success.  A great idea that benefits all. Just an fyi to Sara Volta- you can also drop off used shoes (and unusable clothing) in the bin outside Youngstown Cultural Arts Center. 

  • Mark March 14, 2019 (9:55 am)

    I just signed up. Even if we don’t have stuff every time, it’s a bargain, and I am keen to find out what the rotating special categories will be. They offer a short-term plan for those who want to try it out before committing to six or 12 months. The bottom line for me is that we are drowning in a sea of garbage, especially plastic, and we should support any entrepreneur who is trying to be part of the solution. (We also need to buy/use way less plastic and toxic materials, obviously.)

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