BOSTON – Many of perennial presidential candidate Lyndon Larouche's booklets spent little time in the hands of convention-goers before landing in the garbage. And the immense amount of other paper material thrust at delegates outside the convention gates was often disposed of almost immediately.
Secret Service (search) prevented people from bringing liquids into the FleetCenter so huge piles developed at security lines of wasted water bottles, makeup, contact lens solution and other containers of fluid.
While this situation might ordinarily irk environmentalists, they had no dirty words for convention organizers, who they praised for reaching out to them and working to make this a very environment-friendly convention.
Stan Gruszynski, a delegate from Wisconsin, acknowledged that the convention was generating a lot of trash.
“We have set quite a precedent of waste in this country, and it’s going to take a while to turn around that mentality,” he said. However, he added that he has been very pleased with the efforts to make it a green convention. “There is a general consciousness of those issues.”
Recycling, using alternative energy and offsetting pollution were all initiatives that the Democratic National Committee spearheaded to insure that the meeting would not have a negative environmental impact.
This is “the greenest convention in convention history,” said Peggy Wilhide, the convention's communications director.
Members of the FleetCenter’s cleaning crew found that even if garbage piled up, convention-goers were careful with it.
Jose Landaverde, a FleetCenter janitor, said that convention-goers used the trashcans and recycling bins that were spread around the halls of the arena. Commenting on the difficulty of his task, he said, “It’s not too hard because all people put the trash in the can.”
Landaverde said convention-goers were somewhat neater than the usual crowds that attend the stadium's basketball and hockey games. The trash that he did have to pick up from the ground was small, he said, and rarely did he find newspapers or bottles or other recyclables.
One of the convention’s initiatives, Wilhide said, was to conduct a recycling program where most of the paper trash was turned into posters. Beginning on Monday, paper was gathered and sent out to a paper mill to be turned into signs that were distributed to delegates on Thursday. Other initiatives included using alternate forms of energy, recycling the confetti from Friday’s balloon drop and reusing the convention stage, which will be shipped to Athens for the Olympics.
The convention organizers said they worked with the Coalition for Environmentally Responsible Conventions (search). According to CERC, the FleetCenter was operated on traded renewable power through the $11,000 purchase of renewable energy certificates that was to match the anticipated electricity use at the FleetCenter. The purchase included wind power, landfill gas and hydroelectric energy.
So that the convention would not contribute to global warming, CERC also obtained greenhouse gas reduction credits to offset all carbon emissions from convention activities, including the emissions from convention delegates’ travel to and from Boston. The credits were donated by Boston Carbon Corporation, EcoLogic Development Fund, Harbec Plastics, Republic Services Inc. and Turbosteam Corporation.
Environmentalists, who held a rally on Thursday for Kerry, uttered kind words for the candidate and the campaign's efforts to keep the convention green.
“Convention organizers have been very, very happy to work with environmental leaders to make this the greenest convention ever,” said League of Conservation Voters (search) President Deb Callahan.
LCV, which scores candidates based on their voting record on environmental issues, gave Kerry a 96 percent rating, which Callahan called tremendous considering that Al Gore, also a hero of the greens, scored just 64 percent.
The environmentalists also found plenty of fault with President Bush. A long lineup of environmental leaders and politicians criticized the president’s environmental policy as one of weaker regulations and giveaways to business.
“This administration is simply the worst administration ever. It’s not even close: The worst ever when it comes to the environment, pollution and public health,” said Carl Pope, executive director of the Sierra Club (search).
Environmental activist Bobby Kennedy Jr. fired up the overflow crowd by saying the Bush administration’s policies have allowed the air and water to become more polluted, leading some freshwater fish to become dangerous to eat and increased asthma levels among children.
“I have to watch my children gasping for air because somebody gave money to a politician,” Kennedy said.
Not only did he slam the president, but he repeated the frequent refrain this week that help is on the way.
“[Kerry] is going to be the greatest environmental president in United States history,” he said.