'Greening the Games' at 2009 Special Olympics

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The 2009 Special Olympics World Winter Games in Boise, Idaho, are shaping up to be both inspirational and eco-friendly.

With up to 3,000 competitors going for the gold, the Games “will be going green to encourage athletes and fans to leave no record on our environment.”

The Special Olympics have set up a “Greening the Games” site, a place to showcase their main green initiatives.

Eat Locally

According to the Greening the Games site, the “World Winter Games is committed to providing healthy, locally-sourced meat, fruits and vegetables to all of our guests. Locally grown food is usually picked within 24 hours of purchase, supporting the regional economy and minimizing the need for cold-storage or added preservatives for travel.”

In addition to saving food miles by eating locally sourced produce, the games is using biodegradable and eco-friendly service ware like napkins, cups and utensils.

The host city, Boise, is encouraging athletes to eat locally, ride green and recycle. - specialolympicseastasia.org

The host city, Boise, is encouraging athletes to eat locally, ride green and recycle. - specialolympicseastasia.org

Get Around the Games

Along with promoting carbon offsetting, the Games are providing coaches for participants, coaches and spectators to go from one event to another. Where possible, these coaches will use bio-diesel or natural gas for fuel.

Alternative methods of transport are also encouraged for participants to use both at the Games and back at home. According to the site, “taking a light rail for the average 12 mile commute leaves you 1,366 pounds of CO2 lighter than driving.”

Give Back Through Recycling

According to Greening the Games, the U.S. contains 5 percent of the world’s population and produces 30 percent of the waste. Additionally, the average American consumes more than 400 beverage bottles and cans each year, while eight out of 10 plastic water bottles become landfill waste.

The Games estimate that the attendees to this year’s event will use more than 250,000 bottled drinks, all of which can be recycled. Because of this, the event has implemented games-wide recycling of paper, plastic and other materials at all of their venues.

The site also features a recycling counter. At the writing of this article, over 1,600 pounds of materials have been recycled at the Games.

Signing Off

In addition to the initiatives run by the Special Olympics Games themselves, companies participating in the event are getting in the green spirit as well.

All of the banners and advertisements printed by HP for the Games are environmentally sustainable, from using low-volatile organic compound (VOC) inks to recycling the signs themselves. The estimated 50,000 square feet of banners, building wraps, murals and sidewalk graphics will all be reused if possible by local Special Olympics programs. Those signs that cannot be reused will be recycled through programs such as the new HP Large Format Take-back program, which allows the Games to return flexible, large-format media to HP, postage free, for recycling.

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