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Sunday, February 27, 2011

A Man of Controversy; A Man of Action

Jake on the right handing out bags
at a Panther game
Jake Wilson loves a challenge and understands being controversial is at times a necessary characteristic when it comes to changing human behavior.  As the Keep Mecklenburg Beautiful (KMB) Executive Director, Jake has developed and implemented an amazing series of recycling programs since KMB launched in late 2003.  Each year since inception KMB has received the Keep America Beautiful (KAB)President's Circle Award.

"If you are not pissing someone off, some of the time, you are not doing your job properly" is a Jake Wilson quote.  The "Get Your Butts off Charlotte Streets" and "Get Your Ash off Charlotte Streets" street banners/billboards, part of the Swat-A-Litterbug program, ruffled more than a few feathers with Charlotte public officials. 

Controversial and effective, the program is designed to stop smokers from disposing of ashes and butts on Charlotte streets,  Collaborating with the City of Charlotte, KAB and KMB, Jake devised a program where each entity provided 25 cigarette urns in the downtown area for smokers to use.  With a total of 75 urns, the city government now saves money as it takes less time for custodial workers to empty urns than to sweep sidewalks and streets.  

The Swat-A-Litterbug has a call-in feature where citizens may report a vehicle license tag when an occupant is seen throwing trash (cigarette butts/ashes and fast food/beverages, the most common offense) on Charlotte streets.  The caller gives the time, location and item tossed.  Next the vehicle owner receives a notice from the NC State Patrol Commanding Officer stating future such conduct may result in a fine.  Another program feature is distributing around 300 disposable ashtrays per month to promote "keep it in the car".

As Jake has the knack of creating Win-Win scenarios, most of his programs draw accolades rather than controversy.  The Event Recycling at Speed Street earned a 2009 EVIE Award for Best Green Event.  Panther Tail Gate Recycling is a prime example of Jake's facilitating talent at work with the Carolina Panthers, Bojangle's and Charlotte Center City partnering on the successful initiative.  During the 2009/2010 Panthers home games, tailgaters recycled more than 30 tons of bottles and cans, with over 30% of the waste stream diverted from the landfill.

The Recycle and Win Patrol
The Recycle and Win program “catches” residences with contaminant-free recycling bins and rewards them with $100 Harris Teeter gift cards.  Coca-Cola employees follow the recycling collector in a “wrapped” Prius, go through recycling bins with the program sticker, and give county residents the $100 gift card reward.  With an 18% increase in recycling rates, the successful program is staged for expansion to Raleigh, NC, Charleston, W VA, and possibly New Orleans

Mecklenburg County is fortunate Jake Wilson calls Charlotte home.  With his boundless energy dedicated to environmental causes, Jake is a gift to humanity.  Ei names Jake Wilson as the February, 2011 IMPACTOR.  Thank you Jake!

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