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.
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.