407 words • 2~3 min read

Republican House leaders abandon Pelosi’s “green the capitol” initiative

While I often disagreed with former Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, her “green the capitol” initiative was admirable. Serving local foods in the cafeteria and providing diners with compostable utensils and cups helped make the House of Representatives a model eco-friendly workplace. Now that Republicans have retaken the house, they have decided to abandon these policies.

From the LA Times:

“Republicans…brought back plastic utensils and foam cups, ditching the eco-friendly dining wares of the Democratic era…Democrats see the cafeteria changes as symbolic of GOP hostility toward the environment. Republicans support initiatives that include legislation to thwart regulation of greenhouse gas emissions, deep cuts to the Environmental Protection Agency budget and the repeal of a national mandate for more energy-efficient light bulbs…Democrats, who have sought to make the Capitol an example of environmental responsibility, are especially upset over the return of polystyrene, long the scourge of environmentalists who say it takes a long time to break down and pollutes the landscape…The eco-friendly dining ware reduced the volume of materials sent to landfills by 535 tons a year.”

The reasons that Republicans gave for abandoning the green the capitol initiative are simple. They claim that it costs too much (approximately $500,000 a year more than using plastic and polystyrene).

That cost does seem high, but in the grand scheme of things, it represents a minuscule fraction of our government’s expenses. When you consider that the House cafeteria serves over 200,000 meals a month, the costs are slightly higher than $0.20 per meal. Of all the things that Congress spends our money on, why is having a model eco-friendly workplace considered a symbol of government waste?