Bike-Powered Composting: Build Soil & Muscles At the Same Time!

Could this unique composting initiative be the wave of the future for urban composting?

The urban composting movement has begun to take off in cities across the U.S. over the past few years. As we become more aware of the importance of sustainable living and food production, and the role that soil plays in our survival as a species, more and more people are beginning to take matters into their own hands (and gardens), and recycle yard and food waste rather than throwing it out with the trash.

Bike-powered composting takes this idea to the next level. A number of bicycle-powered composting initiatives have sprung up in urban areas recently. These programs recycle local food waste into compost that can be used in community gardens, or sold back to gardeners and landscapers in the community to enrich the soil and encourage sustainable gardening efforts.

This article shares the awesome story of a new initiative just started in Reno, NV this fall!

The Rot Riders is a 100-percent, bike-powered composting program that will collect organic waste and turn it into compost at local farms and gardens….


• To reduce greenhouse gas emissions at the landfill and in the carting of waste
• To build the local economy with healthy, meaningful work
• To support local and urban farming and community gardening
• To create a worker’s cooperative that empowers citizens and offers an alternative business model
• To employ marginalized populations (youth aging out of foster care, the formerly incarcerated, people of color…)
• To enhance bike culture and stretch the boundaries of what people think is possible with bikes
• To educate children and adults about composting and facilitate composting at schools and homes
• To support Reno Parks and Public Works in going pesticide and fertilizer-free
• To foster connection between people and planet
• To support climate work more broadly in Reno through a successful “climate crisis-oriented” project
• To build bridges between nonprofits and local government to facilitate the Big Work that needs doing

We have started our pilot project with three local restaurants in the midtown and downtown areas. Once a week, for $50/month, we pick up and change out a 32-gallon bin at each restaurant with the green waste brought to three sites and composted: a local urban homesteader, Paradise Park Community Garden, and the Be the Change Project’s neighborhood gardens. Each restaurant has already expressed an interest in doing more pickups each week.


Why Compost and Why Bikes? Because both are amazing! When looking at solutions to the climate crisis, this pairing is a perfect match. For starters, compost is the foundation of healthy soil and healthy soil is the foundation for healthy people, plants, animals, and water. Right now, almost all of Reno’s compostable waste (nearly 50% of all waste!) goes to the landfill.

By creating compost we build soil & reap these benefits:

• Water retention for drought prevention
• Filtration of runoff
• Sequestration of CO2
• Support of healthier local food & agriculture
• Lengthen landfill life

Bikes are low-tech, low-cost, highly efficient & people-friendly.  Using bikes yields these benefits:

• No carbon pollution from noisy trucks moving waste miles away
• Enhanced bike culture in the city
• More money goes to people instead of big machines

Check out the full article on bike-powered composting at, and more more information on the Reno Rot Riders, visit their website at

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Rose S.

An avid gardener since childhood, I love sharing my passion for gardening with others! I have gardened in a number of different climates and settings, from large fenced garden plots, to tiny patio and container gardens, and I firmly believe that everyone can learn to grow at least some of their own food - no matter where you live. Growing your own food can help you take control of your own health and food supply, and there has never been a better time to get started!

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