Environmental faux pas – irony or hypocrisy?
ASPEN If city officials plan to be environmental stewards, they are going to have to lead by example. So was it ironic that city officials were served five-ounce Fiji water bottles and plastic cups at their two-day, goal-setting retreat held at the at the Aspen Institute last week, when officials decided environmental stewardship would be the major focus for the next year?The small plastic water bottles were just one environmental faux pas at the Aspen Institute’s new Doerr-Hosier Center, which officials have touted as one of the most environmentally friendly buildings in the Roaring Fork Valley.Juice from Nantucket in glass bottles, paper Starbucks cups and excess food were served over the course of two days. On the second day, the leftovers from breakfast included 12 hard-boiled eggs, eight throwaway containers of yogurt, 14 pastries, 14 bagels and 11 croissants. The buffet lunch was equally over the top. The offerings were a topic of conversation by City Council members, who told staff that any space rented for city activities from now on must offer environmentally friendly products. In addition, the practice must become a policy in the city’s environmental plan, the Canary Initiative, elected leaders said.”I said that the city of Aspen has to stop doing that,” said City Councilman J.E. DeVilbiss. “If we are going to be environmental stewards, we are going to have to think a little deeper.”None of the City Council members drank out of the plastic water bottles, although some staff members did. The council members used either their own bottles or paper cups with water from the drinking fountain.”The irony is that as environmental stewards, we are renting a space that serves Fiji water bottles and I don’t think that’s appropriate,” said City Councilman Jack Johnson. “It will become hypocrisy if we don’t do something.”Johnson added that he doesn’t think plastic water bottles are evil – they are just part of American culture. Nevertheless, the mindset about consumption has to change.And that takes time, said City Councilman Dwayne Romero.”Going forward, all things environmental,” he said. “You’ve got to start walking the talk, and it has to be part of our overall psyche.”Johnson said the Canary Initiative mandates that at any city function in the future – like the annual community picnic – food should come from within 500 miles. And anything else that can be done as environmentally friendly as possible is a top goal.”It should be a citywide policy,” he said. “It will take some time, thought and delegation to get the city to the right place.”Carolyn Sackariason’s e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org
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