More than 65 cities around the country have already adopted ambitious 100% clean energy goals. Others have pledged to drastically slice water usage and the amount of waste they produce. It troubles me greatly that Little Rock has no sustainability goals. Even though we are the capital city, much smaller cities like Fayetteville have already formulated and achieved sustainability goals while other municipalities around the country continuously achieve and then elevate their goals.
While environmental conservation is critical, sustainability is ultimately an economic competitiveness issue. For example, though it’s still a young and growing industry, there are more than twice the total number of jobs in solar than in coal. So many jobs of the future tie directly into sustainability initiatives. Which is why Little Rock needs to lay out an ambitious sustainability vision to guide our efforts.
Fortunately, there’s already an impressive cadre of companies in central Arkansas pioneering renewable energy and energy efficiency. The city needs to be a better partner to these businesses and find avenues to spur more job growth in these and other sustainability areas. This isn’t just about job creation. Energy efficiency and renewable energy are tools to make homes, businesses, schools, and governments more economically efficient and competitive. And companies considering where to expand or relocate also care deeply about sustainability because they recognize that their customers and employees prioritize it.
Recycling is another sustainability area where Little Rock could do better. We have been doing recycling the same way for too long, diluting the impact we could be making and not serving our citizens the way they deserve. For example, I would work with Waste Management to try to get residential recycling pickups every week. I also believe there should be more public recycling bins throughout the city to make it easy for citizens to recycle. We can also host more public events to educate people about what can and cannot be recycled. In addition, I believe we need to have more frequent events and opportunities to recycle CFL bulbs, bulky items, and electronics.