The Triple Bottom Line: A Study of Waste Management/ Recycling, Water and Transportation in the City of Kalamazoo
The city of Kalamazoo has decided to participate in a collaborative effort with the greater southwest Michigan area by being a signatory to a regional Sustainability Covenant. The purpose of this project is to follow the lead of this covenant by providing a baseline for the City of Kalamazoo for future sustainability efforts. This assessment focuses on the macro level of the entire city, examining where we currently are, since in order to develop in a sustainable way, we must develop a baseline that outlines our current practices including their strengths and shortcomings. For assessing sustainability a model called the Triple bottom Line was chosen. This model suggests that social, economic and environmental categories need to be examined to get a clear picture of current practices. Further within each category specific indicators must be chosen. This portion focuses on the environmental related indicators that were narrowed to waste management/recycling, water usage and transportation. Through the examination of the categories of water, transportation and waste management/ recycling it is possible to get a better idea of where the City of Kalamazoo currently is with sustainability. The current state of the water systems suggest that they are adequate, but could be improved further by adding more green spaces and providing less impact to downstream communities and creating a more efficient system. The mass transportation system has been improving but still does not provide a popular alternative to driving. To accomplish this the mass transit system must be safe, fully accessible, clean and efficient system for all residents to use and the city center must further increase the “friendliness” or attractiveness and ease of movement for pedestrians and bicyclist. For waste management and recycling the most improvement is needed in both reducing waste, encouraging recycling and reuse, and educating local people on benefits of composting and waste reduction. Most of these suggestions are geared towards a movement to sustainability over current conditions. To be truly sustainable more drastic measures would need to be undertaken that will take more years and resources to achieve.