Modest Proposals

Ideas of the Year 2013

Stop recycling > Americans have been dutifully separating recyclables from household trash for decades now, yet our landfill-diversion rate remains pitifully low. Sorting isn't just ineffective—it requires multiple bins to be picked up by multiple trucks, leading to increased greenhouse-gas emissions. One solution? Get rid of recycling bins. By centrally processing and sorting waste, the city of Houston plans to divert up to 75 percent of all discarded materials (well above its current 14 percent) and cut its number of garbage-truck trips by half.

Give women real pockets > Handbags are a pain, and you can only tuck so much into your bra.

LEAVE YOUR HELMET AT HOME > Sure, bicyclists would be safer if they always wore helmets. But evidence suggests that requiring them to do so may, by making the act of riding a bicycle feel more dangerous, cause them to bike less, and thereby forgo the accompanying health and environmental benefits. The world’s most bike-friendly locales—Amsterdam, Paris, Copenhagen, and other impossibly hip cities—happen to be ones in which helmets are few and far between.

Ban telecommuting > Wouldn't you like to get a seat at Starbucks for once?

The Euro Is the New Gold Standard > Even after the Great Depression demonstrated the folly of the gold standard, the European Union insisted on creating its own inflexible currency, which has proved similarly disastrous.

Save marriage, ditch weddings > There has to be a better use of the many months and $28,427 the average American couple spends on party planning.

 

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