Sunday, August 3, 2008

How to take advantage of obesity

Imagine if residents from the city of Knoxville, TN put half as much effort into recycling as they do into preparing for Saturday home football games in the fall. The city of Knoxville was recently ranked as the 10th worst performer in terms of “carbon footprint” among all metro areas in the United States. With that being said, there doesn’t appear to be very many strides being taken by local policy makers to combat the environmental problems.

This got me thinking – what can Knoxville do? Would it be beneficial to society in the long run for there to be a recycling program for all individuals that own a home within Knoxville city limits? It couldn’t hurt, right? Perhaps this program could involve simple recycling methods, such as collection of plastic bottles, aluminum cans, and cardboard materials.

These items should be targeted for a number of reasons. But shouldn’t Tennessee, in particular, be one of the top producers of these recyclable products? One topic that typically doesn’t receive any positive credit relates to obesity in Tennessee. Tennessee is consistently among the nations leaders in obesity rates. To no surprise, it is often cited that Knoxville has more restaurants per capita than any American city of its size. A reoccurring trend that many obese people correlate with relates to high counts of aluminum beverages (such as sodas) and other recyclable products. The least Knoxville could do is recycle their (over) use of these products. Even if these materials are being recycled in Knoxville, there is no way they are being recycled at the rate at which they should be. [For the record, Nashville has some work to do too].

Also, the costs towards implementing a recycling plan shouldn’t be too high relative to the benefits involved. The costs range from providing homes with recycling bins, adding recycling trucks, and increased variable costs associated with transportation and proper handling of the recycled products. Sorting recyclables has become less expensive over time, with new technologies that are capable of sorting different products in cost-effective ways. Although this policy would not need to be accepted by all, for those who wouldn’t want to partake in recycling we could provide them with a disincentive by charging them a recycling fee.

There are a lot of things that could be done throughout east Tennessee in order to increase participation in recycling practices, but it inevitably comes down to the amount of effort Knoxville residents are willing to assume to fix the future environmental issues at hand. Still, who would’ve thought that high obesity rates could lead to increased recycling?

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