In this transcript, Sep Kamvar discusses an innovative solution implemented in Curitiba, a city in Brazil, during the early 1990s. The city faced issues with garbage collection in the favelas (slums), as well as an underutilized bus system. Kamvar shares a story about how the city’s mayor introduced a program that tackled both problems simultaneously, using a unique approach.
Curitiba had narrow rows in the favelas that prevented garbage trucks from accessing them effectively. Consequently, garbage would accumulate and overflow into the river, posing environmental hazards. This situation required an innovative solution to address the garbage problem.
At the same time, Curitiba had a bus system that was not fully utilized. The thoughtful mayor recognized this untapped potential and sought to leverage it to address the garbage issue effectively.
The mayor initiated a program wherein people in the favelas were given bus tokens in exchange for collecting garbage. This approach provided a dual benefit: incentivizing garbage cleanup and promoting the use of public transportation.
As people in the favelas started earning tokens through garbage collection, the tokens began to circulate as a form of currency within the community. This development was significant because it allowed individuals to earn more tokens than they needed for bus fares, enabling them to clean more garbage and collect additional tokens.
The implementation of the bus token system had a positive environmental impact by addressing the garbage problem. Simultaneously, it created a stimulus in the favelas, providing purpose and employment opportunities for many residents.
The story of Curitiba’s bus token program exemplifies a powerful idea. By creating a token backed by public transportation and earned through environmental remediation, the city successfully tackled both the garbage problem and underutilization of the bus system. Kamvar envisions a future where similar initiatives exist worldwide, fostering cleaner environments and empowering communities through innovative solutions.