Tuesday, August 26, 2008

More on the trashy DNC

Now that I've had 18 cups of coffee, I'm ready to sit down and rant ramble on incoherently about my Day 1 experience at the DNC.

The day started off a little shaky. Actually I got there in record time via Denver RTD, aka the Big White Limo. We were supposed to be there at 7:30 for our 8:30 shift, presumably for training ("this is compost, this is recyclables, this is landfill") and to get the shuttle from the convention center to the Pepsi Center. They're less than a mile away from each other, but we had to shuttle instead of walking...now that's green. Hrmphf.

Our bus was detoured by Secret Service and we ended up having to backtrack half way to get around the secure perimeter and back in. We must have looked like a big green parade because, at one point in our walk, I heard a passer-by say to his wife "I think they're those tree-lovers." Ha. I think we finally started our shift around 9:30. C'est la vie...stuff happens on the first day and wrinkles are eventually ironed out...we hope.

Once at the Pepsi Center, I was stationed at the Foreign Press Center. I wish I knew who any of the foreign press were!

The goal for the Green Team was 85% "resource recovery" or landfill diversion. Those of us at the recovery stations (see picture above) were supposed to get people to throw their stuff in the proper bins. If this didn't happen, it wasn't the end of the world because they had people "in the back of the house" who opened each bag and sifted through it for errant pieces of trash. They plan to measure the recovery rate by weighing everything before shipping it out to its final destination.

Here are some ups and downs from the day:

The company who was greening the event (Seven Star Events) worked ahead of time with vendors to get them to use compostable napkins, plates, cups, food containers, even beverage stirrers. But...the company who catered all the food for the volunteers didn't get this memo. They packed lunches for us in these huge plastic containers. While the tops were recyclable, the bottoms were not (nor were they compostable). I'm still shaking my head and thinking "How do you let that happen??"

Yay - For water refilling stations. But....the water was "chlorinated as f*#k" as one dread-locked hippy girl told me. The stations also were not marked or promoted. Still, it's a start especially when compared to Beth's story over at Fake Plastic Fish. She recently tried to fill her reusable bottle at a concert in San Francisco and didn't have such good luck. Here's a "neener neener neener" to San Francisco from the big D. (just jokes of course)

Finally, as I mentioned, there were bins for landfill, compost and recyclables. On the inside, the Green Team picked up all of the full bags and brought them out back to the sorters (trash pickers). Everything was then sorted and weighed. However, on the outside (as seen in the photo above), the landfill bin was actually a Pepsi Center trash bin. Full bags from these landfill bins were picked up by a different company and disposed of, while the recycle and compost bins outside were still picked up by the Green Team. Not to be nit-picky, but this will obviously artificially inflate the percentage of recovered materials because they're not weighing the trash that had been sitting next to it. I'm just sayin'...

I hope that some of these details are worked out now but, even if they aren't, I think we're doing so so SO much more than any other event I've ever been to. I already looked at the trash bin in the restroom at work today, filled with nothing but paper towels, and thought "Would it be weird to sneak those out and compost them at home?"
Off to go hug a recycling bin...

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