I thought our speaker on Friday was very good. I wish I had my evaluation sheet here though because I took my notes on it… Oh well, anyway, I thought he was very knowledgeable. He definitely knew a lot about his business. He handled our questions very well. Overall, I thought it was an enlightening lecture.
In my opinion, one of the most interesting parts of his talk was when he brought up RecycleBank. I had heard of this initiative before (I think I read about it in some magazine whilst at work, I seem to learn a lot at work…), but I had no idea that it was available in the Omaha area. That was an exciting tidbit of information to learn! I only wish it was available in the Omaha metro. I didn’t really understand his rationale for not providing the RecycleBank program to the more urban areas of Omaha. In theory, it sounds like an excellent program that not only promotes recycling but allows people to see a direct, financial gain from their actions in addition to the loftier, more abstract gain of helping the environment.
As the green revolution gains footing, more and more people are becoming concerned about their impact on the environment. I see it every day at work as well as in the choices of my friends, family, college, and community. I really think that RecycleBank would do well if implemented in the greater Omaha area. The first step towards a full-scale implementation, however, is as the speaker said: we need to show Omahans that they do pay for their trash and recycling services through taxes. Once Omahans understand this, they will be more inclined to use a program like RecycleBank. Like I said before, this would have both environmental and financial benefits. And because it would be so pervasive, it could lead to other green initiatives throughout the city.
One interesting idea I had while the speaker was talking about RecycleBank was: what if a similar program was implemented on a commercial scale? For example, what if all of the businesses in the Old Market Business Association (I don’t know if that is the real name of the association, but I know that there is one) took a percentage of their dues and dedicated it towards starting a program modeled after RecycleBank? After earning back the initial investment, businesses would be able to earn a profit based on the pounds of waste they recycle each week. Given that many of the small businesses in the Old Market are restaurants, I think this project could work especially well if compostable material was included in the recyclable materials collected each week. That compostable material could be sold to local farmers from whom the Old Market businesses could then buy fresh, local produce from at a discounted price. (Those businesses that do not use fresh produce could receive vouchers or other forms of reimbursement.) This could be one step toward a closed-loop system. Imagine the possibilities!
Anyway, as you can tell, I think RecycleBank is an innovative, valuable program and I am excited to see it spread across the Omaha area.