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By: Peyton Benge

I remember when the U.S. went through its first fast food awakening. Fries were no longer super in size and it would appear from this point on, we would continually become more health conscious as a society. Although we have changed tremendously in the recent decades, I believe there is another health issue that could be resolved using some of the same lessons we learned from the fast food industry. 


The initial suspect for the sudden rise in obesity was low meal costs, but convenience was the actual culprit. People were and still are busy. Whether it's right or not, many of us don't want to prepare multiple course meals and have to clean up afterwards. Drive thru after drive thru can be seen on the route home and offer a quick, diverse selection of food for a manageable price. Time but needed to pass for the scales to have tipped towards obesity.


Enter Braum's. I would like to first preface that this fast food restaurant did not begin the revolution towards our society redirecting its health standards. However, Braum's has always offered a unique business model unlike any other fast food restaurant in the nation. What makes the Braum's business model so unique is its contrast in societal effects; Braum's simultaneously provides both healthy and fattening foods conveniently.  By providing both a drive thru and a grocery market, Braum's essentially leaves health conscious decisions up to whoever visits its stores. This is remarkable and has interesting potential for a relative industry: convenience stores. 


It is directly in the title that we find the value of convenience stores. Each different store provides people with food and supplies in a convenient location. However, we often don't perceive the threats of this convenience. The U.S. heavily depends on high consumption patterns to maintain a healthy economy, but it is this large-scale consumption that is leading to careless pollution habits. Although it would be most effective if the U.S. changed its consumption habits, there is a more reasonable adjustment that could reduce the current pollution dilemma. 


The ultimate excuse for not recycling is the lack of convenience. I remember first being introduced to the importance of recycling in the second grade, however nearly 15 years have passed and my state along with many others have failed to implement a plausible system to initiate an effective program. I believe this is where the Braum's model can be utilized to relieve some of the contributions being made to our pollution habits by the convenience store industry. Furthermore, this is a golden opportunity for an industry to take social responsibility for its negative effects on societal patterns and habits, while also reducing its output of waste and creating loyalty with its consumer base. 


Initially, the industry would have to admit to its contributions. It is a hefty load to ask an industry to take social responsibility. However, if this proved viable then the next move would be to implement a system of small programs to be introduced to different prospective locations. The structure for this hypothetical system is up for debate. With this in mind, I propose my own hypothetical system. 


When first addressing recycling, a person should comprehend what is recyclable. According to Doctor Daniel Knapp, there are "twelve master categories" to be utilized for recycling goods. With this in consideration, I propose that convenience stores elect to construct a facility on campus or within a square mile of each convenience store location. Each facility would have a color coded system of collection areas for each category of recyclables to be disposed into. The way that the recyclable materials would be collected could either be orchestrated by the companies in the industry, or the option of states or cities organizing collection systems is also viable. Whoever fulfills this role could choose to implement this additional proposition. 


The party hypothetically responsible for collecting the recyclable materials, could choose to create a color coded vehicle carrier system.  Currently, the most feasible would be a trucking system. Each different colored vehicle would visit the facilities in its surrounding areas and collect the coordinating category color of recyclable goods. A hopeful addition would be to use electric vehicles to transport the different categories of recyclables, but considering a large portion of convenience stores posses fueling stations, this could be addressed later as our vehicles evolve. An additional peek to the future could involve designing a carrier system that implements the usage of drones, however from a current outlook on the employment market in the U.S., it would be considerate to first create a system that also increases national employment opportunities.


Once the disputed, hypothetical collection system is implemented it would be in the best interest of the party responsible for designing the network to consider also adopting a rewards system for constituents who utilize the new facilities. Although an initial increase in users of this system can be suspected due to the introduction of a new industry, growth of the users could be continued through a "rewards system." In this system, a customer who regularly shows social responsibility by using an industry actor's facilities could be rewarded for their contribution to the industry and society by presenting them with different incentives particularly aimed towards the responsible party's corporate structure. This opens the opportunity to create a new relationship with consumers while also developing loyalty amongst this consumer base on the notion that the base believes it is contributing to preserving the environment through "x" company.


I understand that asking the convenience store industry and its biggest actors to begin constructing additional facilities to recycle might possibly be perceived as a stretch, but if this is the case then there are other small policies that could be utilized by the industry. For instance, convenience stores could consider a "1 Trash, 2 Recycle" policy that produces more opportunities to recycle. For every trash can at an industry location there would be two recycling bins. It is small-scale changes like this that could eventually generate future, large-scale benefits for our environment. 


It is time we made saving our environment convenient. If we are going to live in a nation that allows its corporations to be recognized as people, then these "people" should be held accountable for their contributions to society. All "people" are affected by environmental changes, therefore all "people" should be held accountable for moderating them, especially the "people" who are the largest contributors. 

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