Friday, January 16, 2009

Five Ways Obama's Inauguration Festivities Will Be Green

by April Streeter, Gothenburg, Sweden on 01.15.09 Photo of the presidential seal by eschipul @ flickr.

Let's just say up front that nobody claims the Inauguration will be deep green - events like this, by their very nature, require a huge amount of car and plane travel, entailing a corresponding belch of CO2. The Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank, reportedly says efforts to make the Inauguration green are just a joke. Just as Jimmy Carter did back in 1977, however, Obama is at least making an effort to follow some green event've gotta start somewhere, right?

Photo of green carpet by Adria Garcia @ flickr.

1. Green Carpet That is Actually Blue

Obama will walk from the bottom of the U.S. Capitol's Rotunda to the West Front podium on an "environmentally-friendly" carpet runner, according to The Hill. He will also be sworn in on recycled blue carpet. The approximately 725 yards of carpet were put together by the employees at Chief Administrative Office.

2. Talking Trash

With the hordes in D.C., trash is going to be a major topic. The group Litter Free Inauguration was dismayed by the amount of trash clogging the streets of Chicago after Obama's Election Night speech, and came together to try to get Inauguration attendees (only those without tickets, as ticket holders are under security restrictions) to bring their own trash bag and pick up after themselves, instead of depending on the many volunteers offering to do some clean up. Special recycling cans, an uncommon sight in D.C., will also reportedly grace the Mall.
Photo of "Out of Service" police horse by Richard Masoner @ flickr.

3. Recycling Horse Manure, Too

Really. No joke! The incoming Obama administration knows the Inauguration has a huge carbon footprint from an estimated 4 million people traveling to D.C. to see the swearing-in and party. So different groups are doing what they can to make the Inauguration greener - and one thing the trash corp will do is pick up all the horse manure from horses walking in the parade and deliver it to a nearby farm.

4. Day of Service, With Plenty of Green Projects

Obama's call to action for Monday, January 19th - Martin Luther King Jr. Day - may end up being the long-lasting green to come out of the horrendously expensive (estimates around $50 million) Inauguration. You can get involved with a lot of different projects, many in D.C. but also all over the country, everything from delivering food to senior citizens in need, to helping the Sierra Club clean up streams, or join Ryan Bowen as he rides his bike into town after a 50-day cycling trek from L.A.
Grammy winner Wyclef Jean will host a Green Inaugural Ball. Photo Event Emissary.

5. Not One, But Two Green Balls

There's a Green Inaugural ball hosted by Planet Green and Wyclef Jean - this one is designed to have a minimal impact, and will among other things be located a block from a Metro station; the food will be primarily organic and local; LEDs will be used for decorative lighting. Al Gore is also hosting a private, invitation-only Green Ball at the Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery.
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