Before the First Family had even started packing moving boxes for a historic move into their new digs, the calls for then-President-elect Barack Obama to turn the White House green were deafening. I thought, give the man a break and let him move in first.
So, he's moved and a couple of months later, the greening-of-the-already-kind-of-green-White-House is still a white hot green topic. What’s been done so far?
• The planting of an organic vegetable garden, confirmed by Michelle Obama. Check.
• The installation of “Malia & Sasha’s Castle,” a playground made from responsible “certified lumber” and recycled tire cushioning. Check.
• Inheriting the-already-in-place-but-outdated green initiatives and improvements established by both the Clinton (a complete green overhaul including updating insulation, heating, lighting, and more) and Bush (poolside solar systems and a beefed-up recycling program) administrations. Check.
According to a recent article that should appease green-the-White-House newshounds, Obama isn’t revealing any specifics about how he and his family will lead by “eco-example” but spots of green around 1600 Pennsylvania have been noted: a switch to green cleaning supplies and products, an improved recycling program, and talks with green building specialists.
According to Bill Browning, founder of Terrapin Bright Green, the most crucial element — the “real champions” — of greening the White House are, not surprisingly, the folks behind the scenes: the groundskeepers and staff who manage the property. “They made it their project during the Clinton years and kept it going during the last administration,” says Browning
Now that we know that a greening effort is happening — albeit slowly, but hey, Rome wasn’t built in a day — what do you think the focus should be on? Large-scale eco-renovations or a series of small steps like the ones that are reportedly happening? What should be tackled first, water-saving efforts or a switch to renewable energy sources? And while we’re on the topic, what do you about new O magazine co-cover girl Michelle’s decision to hire “celebrity designer” Michael Smith? Questions, questions, questions…
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