Washington DC is a regular party town these days...especially for the eco-minded. Greenies from around the country are gathering in record numbers to celebrate the upcoming Inauguration. As MNN columnist Peter Dykstra mentions, there four (count 'em) four green inauguration balls in DC this year. And while that may be a bit of overkill, I found that a lot of the eco-initiatives they are using the green these events may be useful for the rest of us...even if we don't plan to attend a green inaugural ball.

Last week, I chatted with Shelley Cohen, chair of the Green Committee for the 2009 Green Inaugural Ball about the strategies they used to make the ball easy on the planet. Said Cohen, "We really wanted to raise the bar for future events." Here's how they did it:

  • Carbon offsets for 100% of The Green Ball's carbon footprint through Native Energy.
  • Locally-sourced, organic and seasonal food.
  • Major efforts to recycle, reuse, and compost
  • Lighting with LED light bulbs.
  • Minimimum use of paper and signage use. Signs made with soy based ink.
  • Biodegradable soap and energy efficient air dryers in bathrooms.
  • Event linens cleaned without the use of chemicals, and in a manner that uses less water and drying time.
  • Minimum use of floral arrangements. Those they used were organic and will be donated for reuse after the event.
  • Attendees were encouraged to use metro, walk, or drive a hybrid to the event.
  • Trucks in loading bays were prohibited from idling.
  • The event had its own "green" carpet that is made with 100% renewable electrical energy and made from 10% consumer waste.
  • Coat check used reusable numbers instead of paper tags.
  • Guests encouraged to offset their own carbon footprints through Native Energy.
Cohen admits that there were other things on their eco-list, such as donating all of the leftover food, that they could not do because of the event's security limitations. One thing that I thought was interesting was that most of these things are doable in the "real world," for formal holiday parties, your high schooler's prom, or the upcoming charity ball. This list serves as a good starting point for planning any green event.

So what do you think? What else could they have done to make the 2009 Green Inaugural Ball even greener?

Party planning tips from the Green Inaugural Ball
Eco-tips for any party from the planners behind the 2009 Green Inaugural Ball.