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Wasted? Not at the 2013 Green Inaugural Ball!
Guest post by Shelley Cohen
No trash cans? Correct! The 2013 Green Inaugural Ball will not have a need for trash cans. A commitment was made by the Newseum, Wolfgang Puck Catering, and event organizers to compost and recycle all waste generated by the event.
To reach the goal of a zero-waste event, the Newseum will only use serving materials that can be composted, such as bamboo skewers, or reused, such as glass ware. The Newseum will also transform all of their existing trash cans into compost and recycling receptacles so guests and staff will be able to contribute to the event’s composting effort.
The commitment to reducing waste goes beyond the front of the house and into the kitchen. Before the 2013 Green Inaugural Ball, the Wolfang Puck Catering culinary and pantry staff will receive extensive training on compostable materials and source separation from Compost Cab, a pioneer in the area of urban agriculture and community composting. Compost Cab is a locally-based compost pickup service launched by entrepreneur Jeremy Brosowsky that helps urban dwellers turn their food scraps back into food, reducing waste and creating fertile soil in the process. Subscribers have the option to receive some soil in return for their yard or window-box or donate the soil generated to a local urban farm. Since the Newseum does not have a need for compost, whatever compost is created from the materials collected from the event will be donated.
In the days leading up to the event, Compost Cab will be collecting compostables twice a day from the Newseum to help sustain the cleanliness standard maintained in the kitchen and the dock area where the waste will be collected. Composted items will go to a combination of the Peninsula Compost Facility in Wilmington, Delaware, and Chesapeake Compost Works in Baltimore, Maryland, and will be collected in trucks that are specially designed to transport food scraps. All emissions that result from the transport of the compost will be offset by the event organizers.
The Wolfgang Puck Catering kitchen at the Newseum, led by Chef Tom Blundell, has also incorporated into its routine a number of waste minimization strategies, including:
- Cardboard Recycling: large boxes and cardboard items are separated and broken down for recycling.
- Compaction: waste is compacted to minimize space needs on the dock and in the landfill
- Oil: Kitchen oil used for frying is separated and disposed of in a separate grease trap in the dock where it is picked up and recycled.
- Light Bulbs: bulbs are broken down in a Lampinator, an eco-friendly lamp compressor that safely crushes the bulbs and separates the mercury from the glass and compresses it in a carbon filter. This on-site machine reduces the need to dispose of the bulbs in a landfill, and eliminates the costs and emissions related to transporting the bulbs.
- Bulk Purchases: Chef Tom reduces waste by buying in bulk and carefully calculating food amount.
The 2013 Green Inaugural Ball and the Newsuem have carefully collaborated to find as many areas to reduce waste as possible, and we are excited to offer guests a waste-free experience.
Shelley Cohen is Chair of the Greening Committee for the 2013 Green Inaugural Ball. Ms. Cohen is an urban eco-mom with eighteen years of experience in environment and energy-related fields. She currently serves as a Senior Project Developer for Ameresco where she specializes in developing renewable energy and energy conservation projects, and is responsible for developing over 15MWs of renewable energy. Prior employment included jobs with EPA, the White House, and the office of Senator Joseph Lieberman (CT). Ms. Cohen’s green home includes eco-friendly materials, 12kw of solar PV, a cool roof, rain barrel, organic garden, and has been featured in local and national media. Ms. Cohen serves on the board of the National Wildlife Federation, and in 2012 was trained as a Climate Leader through the Climate Reality Project.