It’s a perfect business model for these busy times, targeting the growing number of people who want to make sure contaminants from their hazardous waste don’t end up in the rivers and drinking water. It can be confusing though: Maybe there’s no time to take items to the right place to recycle. Or maybe it’s just too hard to figure out the individual places that take and recycle the old batteries, cell phones, weed killers, vacuums and other items not allowed in the conventional recycling stream.
The solution is simple, as befits the local tradition of neighborly trust: email, text, message or call the “Dude of Hazard” and he’ll come to your home, pick up your items and deliver them to the appropriate place. You don’t need to make an appointment or even be there: Just leave the items and $5 in an envelope on your porch.
In keeping with the environmentally friendly nature of the business, the mode of transportation is easy on the planet. The owner relies on bicycle power to pick up your small items, or to make an initial assessment of a larger item that may require a vehicle.
Also, he’s too young to drive. The “dude,” Bodhi Rose, is 10, and he slips the batteries and cell phones into a backpack. He hatched his plan when he and his parents, Jill and Tim Rose, were brainstorming ideas for Bodhi to make a little money after school and in the summers. Once enough items accumulate, one of Bodhi’s parents takes the items to the best option for disposal. This is also done in an environmentally friendly way, said Jill, when they’re driving in the right direction anyway.
Bodhi (his name means ‘enlightenment’) came up with the name. “Since some of the things are hazardous, I thought it would fit,” he said.
Jill Rose, a videographer with VCU, said the family has always tried to be aware of reducing waste and recycling. “I had to change one of those LED bulbs,” she said. “After I unscrewed it, I thought ‘what’s next?’ If it was causing me some stress to find a way to dispose of it, I figured others might have the same problem.” She, Bodhi, Bodhi’s sister, Sophia, and husband Tim Rose, an oncology nurse at U.Va., try to reduce waste in other ways, by composting and carrying their own bags to the grocery store.
At first, the business took only items like the used bulbs, cell phones and spent batteries, things they already knew had specific destinations for recycling. But Bodhi and Jill became intrigued with the idea that almost anything could ultimately have another life that would keep it out of the waste stream, if they could only find the right place for it. Copiers, fax machines, old keyboards, cameras, fans and binoculars and many other large and small items were added to their list of acceptable materials. “We’ve spent a lot of time researching where to bring hard-to-recycle items,” she said. Jill posts items accepted on “Nextdoor,” the neighborhood website.
An empty helium tank is the most unusual item they’ve disposed of, Bodhi said. He and his mother found out that strict regulations applied to this: the tank must be completely empty, which involved some research as well as some tinkering on their part.
So far, the business has been a success. In a few months, Bodhi has bicycled over to a couple dozen porches: “I’m a great bicycle rider,” he acknowledged. He spends some of his earnings and saves half to attend an outdoor camp he loves in West Virginia.
Reach the Dude of Hazard via Nextdoor, the Facebook page (which has a full list of items accepted), or call or text 434-249-0743.