Recycling opponents around the country have been very successful in pushing the notion that recycling should pay for itself or even generate income. Yet the same requirement is not imposed on other government services. Do we expect city streets to turn a profit? Of course not.
Nonetheless, I think curbside recycling will produce a financial benefit for the city. Visitors from other communities are often surprised when they learn that recycling is not offered in Savannah. While I doubt that many people would decide to leave town or elect not to move here because we don’t offer it, curbside recycling serves as an indicator of where a city falls in the spectrum of sustainability. The lack of curbside recycling is a big red flag for green folks. If they are considering moving themselves or their businesses here, the fact that we don’t currently offer recycling pickup may tell them all they need to know about Savannah.
How important are a community’s sustainability practices in attracting new residents and businesses? A story in this morning’s USA Today may provide some clues. “Job sites go green to please workers” finds that, “a growing number of employers are going green, putting greater emphasis on reducing their impact on the environment.”
A survey conducted by Adecco, the story reports, found that 33 percent of employees “would be more inclined to work for a company that is environmentally conscious.”
Can we make a similar assumption that 33 percent of people would be more inclined to live in a community that is environmentally conscious? It’s an important question for a city that the U.S. Census says is losing population.