Efforts for Greenest Games

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Those who know me know that I am a mad recycler/composter -have been for 35 years or so. I remember working as a volunteer when the kids were little for a Pointe Claire, Quebec upstart organization called STOP – the Society To Overcome Pollution. Seems a hundred years ago – it fact it was about 35 years ago and far too long ago for the seemingly little progress we have made to reduce/reuse/and recycle our immense piles of waste.

However I remain hopeful for a more conscientious future and one of those hopeful signs is right in the Athletes Village where I go each day and see clean, large recycle bins everywhere. You don’t have to carry your banana peel or apple core very far before you can find a composting bucket with a clean –hopefully biodegradable – plastic bag inside ready to accept your offering. Beside the composting buckets is a huge drum to recycle plastic water, juice and pop bottles.

Some of the waste buckets are solar powered compactors like this one on the right.

Word is that Coke – one of the key Olympic sponsors – has a piece of equipment nearby that takes hundreds of plastic bottles and makes them into a 4x4x4 foot cube in seconds. The cubes are immediately sent to recycling plants.

Other exciting initiatives are:
• Volunteers and sponsor associates are wearing clothing made from recycled PET bottles. Each uniform contains up to 120 recycled bottles. Athletes wear t-shirts made out of recycled bottles.
• Posters, menu boards and other materials used in concessions are made out of post-consumer recycled plastic and will be recycled after the event.
• All PET containers sold during the Games will be recycled. More than 1,400 recycling bins will be available during the Olympics. Coke estimates 7 million bottles will be served during the events.
• Coke is selling its newly designed Plant Bottles comprised of up to 30 percent renewable plant-based materials made from sugar cane juice and/or molasses. Coke will produce 2 billion Plant Bottles by the end of this year.
• Coffee, tea and cocoa is available in 100% compostable packaging including lids and sleeves. Tim Hortons, Starbucks and Second Cup please take note!
• Everything in the meal tents is carefully recycled or composted. Two attendants take trays from each diner to ensure the right things go into the right bins.
• Furniture and displays at many installations are created from blue pine wood salvaged from the Mountain Pine-Beetle epidemic in BC.
• The Athletes Village has been LEEDS certified at the Platinum level and declared Most Sustainable Neighbourhood with Vancouver’s first renewable district heating system, net zero buildings that produce as much heat as they use and toilets that flush using captured rain water.

All very hopeful signs that we can do more than we think we can when we put our collective minds to it. This city is so beautiful and there are so many natural elements to its beauty, it would be a crime not to be as green as we are humanly capable of being – and continually strive for better.

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