More big ideas 

On recycling, education and more

Recycling at apartment complexes

By Glen Hooks


Several years ago, the city of Little Rock took a strong, positive step by providing curbside recycling for its citizens. The program makes it very easy for the average household to live in a more sustainable way, but there are two easy ways that the program could be improved.

First of all, our tiny recycling bins should be at least as big as our trashcans so as to encourage more recycling. For those of us who recycle consistently, the small bin is not nearly large enough for a week's worth — I find myself dealing with multiple small bins, or saving a portion of my recyclables for the following week's pickup.

Secondly, we need to make recycling available to the large number of our citizens who live in apartment complexes. This can easily be done by requiring landlords to place a recycling dumpster on properties that have more than, say, 10 units. On numerous occasions, friends of mine who live in apartments have dropped their recycling off at my house because they can't recycle at home. We should address this problem for the people who want to do the right thing and recycle.

Taking these two small steps will dramatically increase both the availability and the volume of recycling here in Central Arkansas, and make our city a greener place to live.

Glen Hooks is a long-time environmental advocate and the regional director (Eastern U.S.) for the Sierra Club's Beyond Coal Campaign.



Teach throughout the year

By Dr. Ginny Blankenship


Here's a big idea: Why not throw out our antiquated school calendar and give kids the chance to learn throughout the entire year?

Although we're no longer living in a 19th century agrarian economy, our education system is — and we'll all pay the price unless we make some radical changes. The research is clear that the three months of learning lost every summer vacation (four if you count the slow-down that typically occurs after standardized tests are finished in April) has a huge impact on how much material students are able to recall the following year, and the effects are cumulative. Students who have access to camps, art classes and other enrichment programs during the summer months are more likely to stay on track. But over half of Arkansas's students are low-income and not always fortunate to have the same opportunities. For them, high-quality, extended learning opportunities are even more critical.


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