Inauguration: Rolling Out the "Green" Carpet

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What do you get when you cross millions of people and an historic political event? The answer: trash! And lots of it. With millions expected to gather on the National Mall for the inauguration of President-elect Barack Obama, the environmental impact is likely to be substantial.

For all you environmentally forward thinkers out there, don’t fret, as this year’s Presidential Inaugural Committee (PIC) is one step ahead. The Committee has teamed up with the EPA to make sure environmental impact is minimized wherever possible. From recycle bins that will line the National Mall to recycled carpet runners, the Committee has taken great measures to reduce the environmental footprint of the event.

Surely many will still arrive to town via private jet and limousine, leaving their size-10 carbon footprint, but the PIC has made every effort to curb that print wherever possible. Here’s how they are doing it:

  • The National Mall will be filled with people - and recycle bins - for the Presidential Inauguration.

    The National Mall will be filled with people - and recycle bins - for the Presidential Inauguration.

    Recycle bins, provided by The National Parks Service and the Trust for the National Mall, will line the Mall. Over 6,000 volunteers are scheduled to pick up recycling in the days following the event.

  • For the first time, the new President will take the oath of office while standing on a recycled, solid-blue carpet. The inaugural platform carpet, as well as the carpet runners leading up the U.S. Capitol’s Rotunda steps, are made of recycled materials.
  • Inaugural Committee invitations were all printed on recycled paper.
  • Heat sheets, provided to participants who get too cold at the event, will be donated to homeless shelters after the event, rather than being landfilled.
  • Definitely not a glamorous subject: The horse manure left behind in the parade will be sold to local farms for composting.
  • All events and receptions in the House of Representatives will feature biodegradable containers, plates and utensils, many of which are made of corn resin. All plastics and Styrofoam are banned. Food scraps and containers will all be composted.

The inaugural event will likely leave a substantial carbon footprint due to the expected numbers in attendance, but efforts like these are decreasing that impact in valuable ways, and it’s a great way to start a new administration!