Program ‘pays’ for good environmental deeds

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. ( June 23, 2014) – A new way to reward people for doing good is gaining momentum in Indianapolis. The Make Change Indy program is expanding to midtown to include the neighborhoods of Broad Ripple, South Broad Ripple, Meridian-Kessler, Butler-Tarkington and Mappleton-Fall Creek.

Tim Carter, a professor of urban ecology at Butler University, came up with the concept of Make Change Indy. People who do any number of environmentally friendly activities can then earn currency and exchange those at local attractions, businesses and restaurants.

“The idea behind Make Change was that there are a lot of people in the city who are potentially interested in doing something to improve their environment but there are all sorts of reasons why we don’t,” Carter said. “So we wanted to incentivize that in a new and unique way and this new kind of currency seems like a way to do that.”

Activities to earn a Make Change coin include: taking a clean water pledge, replacing an incandescent light bulb in your home, documenting a trip on one of the bike trails in Indianapolis, donating to Indy Upcycle, participating in the Pacers Bike Share, having an energy audit done on your home, planting a garden, native plants or a tree, starting a chicken coop, creating a composting system, installing a rain barrel, and biking to work.

Once you complete an activity, you can post about it on social media using #MakeChangeIndy or visit the website to receive your currency.

The Agrarian at 49th and College is a participating business accepting Make Change coins.

“I think it’s bringing awareness to maybe how cool it can be to plant trees and do rain gardens and rain barrels,” said owner of the Agrarian Andrew Brake. “And raising chickens, how cool that can be, and to be more or less rewarded for it.”

The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis is also accepting Make Change coins for admission.

“It’s about all the things that we are heavily invested in: sustainability, education and family learning. Families that are participating in the program have an opportunity to learn about sustainability and the kids can learn about it, too,” said Anthony Bridgeman with the museum.

Other participating locations include Fall Creek Gardens, The Broad Ripple Brew Pub, Duos Kitchen, Freewheelin’ Community Bikes, Good Earth Natural Foods, tThe Unleavened Bread Cafe, CUE Farms and KI Ecocenter.

Make Change was originally funded through a grant from the Environmental Protection Agency’s Urban Waters program and launched in January of last year.

On Friday, June 20, the program expanded to the entire midtown area with a $1,000 Nice Grant from SmallBox, an Indianapolis-based web design and marketing company.