Michael Robinson

Michael Robinson

Founder of Rust Belt Riders

2019 Climate Fellow

Rust Belt Riders’ mission is to feed people, not landfills. It believes that communities can reach their full potential through transforming waste streams into valuable resources, using regenerative agricultural practices to derive carbon-sequestering products from discarded food. Rust Belt Riders also believes that what they do is as important as how they do it. To that end, Rust Belt Riders aims to build wealth and political power through employee ownership and democratic engagement.


Michael Robinson is a co-founder of Rust Belt Riders, an organization dedicated to transforming regional food systems through the creation of value-added products derived from locally squandered resources. Applying systems thinking to the production of both food and “food waste,” Michael is passionate about using this so-called waste stream to build a circular economy that improves food security while combating climate change. Embracing worker ownership and workplace democracy, Michael sees Rust Belt Riders as a prefigurative model of a firm operating in a regenerative solidarity economy. Michael is on the Steering Committee for the National Community Composting Coalition, the Advisory Committee for the Food Access Raises Everyone (FARE) Project, the treasurer of local nonprofit Cleveland Owns, and an Environmental Leadership Program Senior Fellow. He has a degree in social and political philosophy from Loyola University Chicago, completed Ohio State University’s Compost Operator Education Course, and has taken classes at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in supply chain management. Michael is a 2019 Echoing Green Fellow.