Political convention fever is upon us, just as Beijing Olympics fever will soon be waning. If you thought excitement over greening the conventions was high in 2004, your head will be spinning here in 2008.
In time for the DNC, Denver hotels are switching to sustainable wooden keycards, one more step toward local mayor John Hickenlooper's challenge of hosting "the greenest convention in the history of the planet." Green gurus had already been working on sourcing biodegradable balloons and organic fanny packs, in addition to local, organic (and non-fried!) food, compost bins and energy-efficient lighting and transportation.
Denver's $160 million Pepsi Center had already announced its pioneering plants to go carbon neutral by buying offsets, giving preferred parking to hybrid vehicles, supporting single-stream recycling and installing 52 solar panels.
Speaking of the Pepsi Center, the company's rival Coca-Cola has been named the Official Recycling Provider of both the DNC and RNC conventions. What does this mean?
Hopefully the green efforts will make an impression on influential delegates, and serve to make lasting change around the country.
Yes, Coke is probably looking for some good publicity, after being hammered over allegations of unfair water use, human rights abuses and lobbying against bottle bills, laws that many call the best way to promote recycling. Not to mention widespread complaints that sugary sodas can make people fat.
Still, the goal of recycling everything from the conventions is a lofty one, and one can hope that a successful implementation will help convince other managers that it really isn't that difficult.
Coke hybrid delivery truck. / Courtesy of Coca-Cola Enterprises
In related news, Humana and the bicycling advocacy organization Bikes Belong are launching a massive bike-sharing program called Freewheelin, in which 1,000 bikes will be made freely available in Denver and Minneapolis. Convention attendees, residents and media will have the opportunity to take advantage of free, health-promoting transportation.
Hopefully, this good idea will rub off on people too.
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