From Arlo Guthrie, who wrote a seven-minute song about taking out the garbage, to Shel Silverstein’s Sarah Sylvia Cynthia Stout, who drowned in her own garbage, our society has long struggled with the excesses of its own existence. Today, Americans hold the title of biggest trash producers in the world, at 6.5 pounds per person, per day. This problem is perhaps no more evident than in Phoenix, the fastest-growing city in the country. advertisement advertisement In 2008, Phoenix was named the least sustainable city in the nation in Andrew Ross’s book Bird on Fire. Everyone in Phoenix really hated being called that. So when Greg Stanton became mayor later that year, he decided to focus on sustainability. (Stanton has since become a congressman, taking the seat left vacant by now-senator Kyrsten Sinema.) Water was one big piece of the sustainability puzzle, but garbage was the other. The challenge Stanton faced was reducing the amount of garbage Phoenix sent to the landfill without changing laws or imposing fines, both of which would have been impossible to get passed in the middle of a red state. The city would have to rely solely on changing human behavior. It was a tall order…. Read full this story
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