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Employ youth in bicycle fleet of waste collectors with trips to a community anaerobic digester

Instead of relying on huge diesel trucks to pick up households' trash and bring it to the dump, create an organization that employs youth to collect compost on bicycles and transport the material to a tower-sized decomposer. This way, the impact is two-fold: not only will there be a positive outlet for teenagers and a means of earning an income (the respective community would use money saved from transporting via trucks to pay a small stipend to participants), but there will also be a way to harness food waste into a renewable energy source.

Photo of Emily O'Hara
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A prime example of this is to adopt the Vermont Technical Community College's Community Anaerobic Digester model with the Portland Fruit Tree Gleaning model.

VT example here:  http://digester.vtc.edu/
OR example here:  http://portlandfruit.org/

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Photo of Jaime Gusching
Team

Hey Emily,

Have you heard of Wecyclers? It's another great example of your idea in action! Their model solves the urban waste challenge for households and recyclers by employing a fleet of low-cost cargo bicycles to offer convenient household recycling service in densely populated low-income neighborhoods. You may find their experiences helpful.

Check out their website (http://wecyclers.com). Wecyclers recently was a Tech Awards Laureate in 2013 and that's how I met them!

Photo of Emily O'Hara
Team

Oh, wow! No; I have not heard of this group. Thank you for providing these details. I will be sure to check out their website.

Cheers Jaime!

Photo of Joanna Spoth
Team

Emily, this is such a creative and practical idea! I look forward to seeing it evolve – be sure to keep the community updated!

Photo of Natalie Lake
Team

Hi Emily,

I think this has the potential to be a super cool idea with just a few more details. What would you do with the results of your anaerobic biodigester? Would you only use the gas or the other outputs such as biol as well? The pay for the youth would come from the organization? How would education in the households for this program work and what sort of protective gear would the youth wear? Where would you implement this program? What happens if it is raining or snowing?

I look forward to reading your answers!

Photo of Tatiana Vekovishcheva
Team

Hi Emily,

I like the thinking behind your idea.
Have you heard about bike couriers? It may be a nice addition as well.
http://www.pedalexpress.com/

Photo of Meena Kadri
Team

Great find, Emily! What are the first steps you'd take towards making this a reality in the community where you live?

Photo of Emily O'Hara
Team

Thanks Meena! I would start by reaching out to organizations here in Portland that are already involved in this space such as local nonprofits like the Fruit Gleaning Project as well as others that work with youth, especially those focusing on employment. I would also reach out to the local government branch to see what kind of legislative action is possible or needed. Additionally, I would start researching the resource shared above by Jaime in her comment; it sounds like a workable model.

Photo of Meena Kadri
Team

Great stuff, Emily. Looking forward to hearing how things go and what you learn towards evolving this further. Bring on the impact!