As the brains behind Eartha Limited, Mike Minnix knows that being environmentally responsible should be operationally and economically viable.

As the brains behind Eartha Limited, Mike Minnix knows that being environmentally responsible should be operationally and economically viable.

By focusing on the restaurant industry, where 90 percent of waste is reusable, Minnix found an opportunity to have a substantial ecological impact while helping small businesses with their bottom line.

"We're not in it to make a billion dollars. We're in it to pass these costs on to our customers. They're doing the right thing by wanting to compost, by wanting to recycle," Minnix said.

Eartha's business plan has a three-pronged approach - consulting with restaurants to develop an eco-friendly strategy, helping them integrate affordable biodegradable products, and hauling away food scraps and recyclables - that makes being green both cost-effective and feasible.

Once Eartha receives approval from the Solid Waste Authority of Central Ohio - which Minnix expects any day now - the company can begin hauling away recyclables and food scraps from restaurants using trucks that run on used vegetable oil.

The recyclables will be stored in a 10,000-square-foot warehouse in German Village, and scraps will be delivered to a composting facility or nearby farms. None of the scraps will go to landfills.

The fewer pickups Eartha makes from a restaurant, the less the eatery will be charged. And Eartha won't have a set pickup schedule like traditional waste-management companies. Stops will be based on need and determined by electronically monitored bins.

Eartha's consulting efforts will help local restaurants transition smoothly into using eco-friendly practices.

"You can't be doing what I do and telling people it's going to be expensive, it's going to be hard, it's going to be hell on your employees," Minnix said. "We preach simplicity, cost neutrality and ease of use. This stuff isn't hard."

Local restaurateur Liz Lessner of Tip Top and Dirty Frank's fame has already partnered with Minnix, and Eartha has plans to work with some large-scale, Columbus-based food-service providers and event venues.

The future of Columbus looks green with Minnix's strong business plan and focus on goodwill.

"We're looking to make this a better place to live," he said. "[Eartha] is going to be a profitable business by caring about the community."