At Work: Eartha Limited is Making Columbus GreenerAt Work — By Anne Evans on March 17, 2011 at 8:00 am
Mike Minnix has been interested in natural resources and environmental sustainability for quite some time. Originally from Columbus, Minnix went to Ohio Dominican for college, where he played football and had the goal of becoming a park ranger. When an injury ended his football days, he went to the Airforce Reserves and then studied at The Ohio State University.
It was during that time, while working as an event planner/sustainability manager for Concessions by Cox, that he saw just how much waste was generated in that industry. For Super Bowl XLIII, he helped install, manage, and implement environmental programs that helped reduce the waste and make it an environmentally friendly event. After coming home from the event, he knew he had a great idea and quit school to start Eartha Limited.
Using his personal savings, he founded the company in October 2009. After doing some consulting on how the Betty’s Family of Restaurants could lessen their environmental impact, he found a great friend and business partner in Elizabeth Lessner. Her many connections helped get the business going and growing, and helped with securing a loan from the Community Capital Development Corp.
Eartha has a 10,000-square-foot warehouse on the Whittier Peninsula. Minnix loves the central location and proximity to the Grange Insurance Audubon Center. The office space is outfitted in donated desks and shelving from King Business Interiors. The carpeting is FLOR tiles.
Eartha Limited employs five people: Mike Minnix, president, chief consultant, and dumpster diver; Elizabeth Lessner, co-founder and bag lady; April Kasun, general manager; Loren Foster, creative director; and Thad Davis in sales.
Minnix enjoys being a young entrepreneur and is happy to be able to employ other people. The space includes a gym so employees have a chance to work out and make themselves healthier. He loves being a boss and motivating people to care and be passionate about Eartha.
He has found mentors in Steve Grossman of Grossman Recycling, Mike Long, former executive director of SWACO, and Terrie TerMeer of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources. Grossman also partners with Eartha for its book recycling programs. Many of the books Eartha collects go to needy schools or Girl Scout programs that start libraries and schools in other countries.
Minnix said Columbus is leading the way in the environmental sustainability industry. He is happy to have a company in Columbus because people have pride here and want to be good to each other. They want young people to take a leadership role and have a voice in the community.
“Everyone is so willing to help everyone,” Minnix says. “People care about the city.”
Eartha Limited has a public drop off where they collect all kinds of waste. They also want your books. And restaurant food scraps. And vegetable oil. And your e-waste. Basically anything you are looking to throw away…contact Eartha first and see if they can take it. Most likely they can!
One of the main aspects of the business is making it easier for restaurants to get rid of all of the waste they generate in an environmentally friendly manner. Eartha will educate everyone, and do all the pickup and hauling for you. Education is another important aspect of the business because if staff and workers are not engaged and educated on the programs, they will not work.
Eartha also is a one-stop shop for compostable food products. Eddie Shepherd, general manager of The Jury Room, has recently signed on as the first business to use all compostable products from Eartha. And great news for the public! Eartha will soon have available open case items and people can buy what they need. So if you are having a wedding or a picnic, Eartha does the guesswork for you on what is the best green product available.
Eartha has an event coming up on April 30 from 11 a.m. to 4 p. m.
Healthy Environment and Healthy Living Fair.
In partnership with MORPC, Eartha Limited, Local Matters, the SBB and Norseman Environmental, the event will focus on backyard composting (with a sale of Norseman Earth Machines for $40− a hugely discounted price), cooking classes led by the Veggie Van, and utilizing garden space and improving yields.
Rangers from the park will teach climbing wall classes and lead tours of the area. Food trucks will be organized by the SBB and a family-friendly band will be jamming. The event is free and taking place at Eartha.
Eartha Limited is located at 371 Maier Place, Columbus, 43215
All photography by Adam Slane.
Do you know of, have, or work in, a creative workspace and would like to be featured in this series? If so, please contact Anne Evans.