About the Author: Justin Tang is an intern on the "Green Team" in the Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs.
Last month, the Department of State celebrated America Recycles Day by raising awareness of our recycling achievements and highlighting the latest “greening” initiatives by our domestic and overseas facilities. The event resulted in the recycling of hundreds of pairs of shoes, eyeglasses, batteries, and cell phones in several domestic facilities. This year's theme, “Greening Your Footprint,” played off the Department's America Recycles Day partnership with "Soles4Souls," an organization that recycles and distributes footwear to needy adults and children around the world.
America Recycles Day also allowed the Greening Council Working Group to highlight some embassies' and consulates' recycling efforts. For instance, Embassy Dushanbe in Tajikistan partners with a Tajik company to recycle paper from the embassy into egg cartons for use in Tajik markets. Meanwhile, Consulate Surabaya in Indonesia works with a local NGO to teach children arts and crafts using recyclable materials. Embassy Asunción in Paraguay recycles yard waste into wood chips and fertilizer, which reduces water consumption and saves money. And not to be outdone, Embassy Brazzaville in the Republic of the Congo recycles its construction waste to build thirty houses for the local community.
This event reinforces Secretary Clinton's Greening Diplomacy Initiative (GDI), launched in 2009, which requires the Department to find ways to reduce its carbon footprint. The Department has committed to a 50 percent diversion recycling rate by 2015.
Under Secretary for Management Patrick Kennedy congratulated colleagues on their recycling efforts and encouraged employees to step up these activities, saying: “The Department is an active recycler of everything from soda cans to construction materials, but we can do more…this America Recycles Day celebration is a significant opportunity for the Department and a significant day for all to be mindful of all that we need to accomplish together.”
For additional information on Soles4Souls, please visit their website.