Varsity Tutors Scholarship Entry

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Nathan of Denver, CO
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A Grant For the 'Three R's' - Varsity Tutors Scholarship Essay

Come Fall 2019 I will be going back to school for software development. I would use a $10,000 grant to program, research, market, promote and distribute a mobile application that point users towards appropriate ways to recycle and provides updates when changes are made to the local recycling rules.

The problem: Too often, in discussions with people in my community, are members unaware of what can and cannot be recycled. Almost 80 percent of what Americans throw away can be recycle, yet our recycle rate is less than 25%. More than what can and cannot be recycled there are constantly to changes to what is appropriate to recycle. If there are too many items in a load that cannot be recycled, or are too dirty, then the entire load is thrown away in the land fill.

The solution: the mobile application would first ask a user to input their location (or sync with location services on their phone) and then allow users to input the item they want to recycle or scan the UPC bar code on the item. The app will first suggest ways to reuse the item, as reuse is a better option than recycling. It will then detail how, if possible, to recycle the item. If it is not recyclable it will direct the user to throw the item in the trashcan or focus on reuse. Finally, the application will suggest ways to reduce consumption.

For example, a 16 oz number 5 plastic yogurt container. The user scans the bar code. The app lists out a few ways to reuse the container ‘storage of dried good (popcorn kernels, beans, etc.), leftovers when you have dinner guests take home desert.’ It then lists out how to recycle the container, ‘please use a small amount of water to rinse the container, or, if you have room, place the container in the dishwasher.’ Then how to reduce consumption, ‘have you considered buying the larger, 32 oz yogurt containers?”

Sustainability. Keep the app free but sell advertising space. In our example above there could be an Ad that points the user to a retailer that sells 32 oz yogurts.

When it comes to environmental sustainability every little thing counts. No one person can change the way a community reduces their consumption, reuses the waste they can and recycles the waste they can't but it starts with just that, a community.