By Karina | January 26, 2009
When I was at the Inauguration last week, there was something that you just couldn’t miss – the huge amounts of litter everywhere. As my inauguration partner said: Wouldn’t it have been great if President Obama could have ended his speech with a call to pick up one piece of trash on our way off the mall?” One of the problems was the scarcity of garbage cans – either they just didn’t expect so much trash, or (as the case in NYC after September 11th) the cans were removed because of security reasons.
Before inauguration, there were some posts out there on the internet asking people to take their trash with them – this PSA is excellent, for example, and here is a follow-up from the same group (LitterFree Inauguration) pointing out that trash cans were filled 2 days before the inauguration already! But I didn’t hear anything about it until I was researching this post! Here is a video of the mall after the inauguration, and you can see that between the dust and wind and garbage, it pretty much resembled a wasteland. And while my vantage point was not ideal, I didn’t see any notes to ask the participants to take their waste with them – not even during the infomercial we watched after the ceremony celebrating the National Mall and asking us to support them financially.
There were also a lot of lost gloves and scarves and hats out there. After the ceremony people discarded their blankets and extra warming materials on the mall and walked off – I wished there were a way to collect all of these winter clothes and blankets, wash them off, and repurpose them for the local homeless population! Instead I’m afraid they all went to the dump.
According to the Washington Post, at least 130 tons of garbage was hauled away after the inauguration. Even for a crowd of roughly 1.8 million people, that’s a lot of garbage per person. I can safely say that I packed out everything that I brought in, and boy, I wish that everyone else did too. Maybe next time around the inaugural president can take a few minutes and remind us all to hey, pick up a little around us.
Were you at this inauguration or another similar large event? What did you to do help stop the littering problem?
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