April 3 — Forget about lemonade. We´re adults here. When life hands you a lemon, make a whiskey sour.
And more than a few cities are realizing they need to tend bar.
For many municipalities, budgets for recycling education and outreach have been getting bags of lemons for years from lawmakers facing historic deficits.
Important programs that educate children and the community about recycling are often among the first to get chopped by legislators scrambling to slash spending. It hasn´t helped that much of the grant money out there has decided to play hide-and-seek at the same time.
Still, some municipalities have been able to soar, even with tightened belts.
Just look at the finalists for Waste & Recycling News´ Green City Awards, which were handed out last week at the Residential Recycling Conference.
Yes, most of them use time-tested and effective ways to promote recycling and educate their citizens: brochures, newsletters, school visits, community events. But many are complementing that foundation with innovative ways of steering attention toward their recycling programs and educating their residents.
Shoppers using reusable bags in San Jose, Calif., have found themselves in the center of flash mobs organized by the city´s eco-team.
Citizens of Allen, Texas, were introduced to a new single-stream program with a hilarious YouTube video featuring a resident going out on a blind date with a blue cart.
Whiting, Ind., built a "Lady Gar Gar" float — out of recycled materials, of course — for the annual pirogue parade.
And instead of hiring a dedicated social media guru, Halton Region, Ontario — just outside of Toronto — has crafted a schedule so that 10 staff members each work on social media for a half a day once a week.
The list goes on and on.
The point is that many of these creative ideas cost little or nothing to implement. It´s this kind of ingenuity that raises the education level, raises the diversion rate and raises the profile of a community´s recycling program.
And to that, we should all raise a glass of appreciation, chased by a whiskey sour.