NPI's Cascadia Advocate

Offering commentary and analysis from Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's uplifting perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Sunday, June 25th, 2017

Five ways Seattle Pride can become more environmentally responsible in 2018

The Seat­tle Pride Parade, Pride­Fest, and asso­ci­at­ed Pride events are a great Emer­ald City insti­tu­tion bring­ing hun­dreds of thou­sands of peo­ple togeth­er to cel­e­brate diver­si­ty, inclu­sion, and love each and every summer.

While many aspects of Pride are already great and don’t need chang­ing, there’s one area in par­tic­u­lar where we feel there’s a lot of room for improve­ment, and that is envi­ron­men­tal respon­si­bil­i­ty. Pride cur­rent­ly gen­er­ates a lot of trash and air pol­lu­tion, and we’d like to see orga­niz­ers pur­sue strate­gies that would reduce emis­sions and the vol­ume of mate­r­i­al being sent to landfills.

Here are five ways Seat­tle Pride can become more envi­ron­men­tal­ly friend­ly in 2018:

  1. Cre­ate plac­ards for busi­ness­es along the route to put up request­ing that peo­ple refrain from smok­ing and lit­ter­ing. There are too many Pride atten­dees who think it’­so okay to light up in the mid­dle of a crowd or toss their unwant­ed swag and plas­tic water bot­tles into the street. Sig­nage could help dis­cour­age this behav­ior, espe­cial­ly if accom­pa­nied by reg­u­lar announce­ments from review­ing stands and ads on social media fea­tur­ing respect­ed region­al icons like Mack­le­more, Felix Her­nan­dez, or Rick Steves.
  2. Request that orga­ni­za­tions sub­mit­ting entries to the parade use elec­tric vehi­cles and solar gen­er­a­tors. Inter­nal com­bus­tion engines gen­er­ate sig­nif­i­cant amounts of air pol­lu­tion (as well as some noise pol­lu­tion). Elec­tric vehi­cles and solar gen­er­a­tors, on the oth­er hand, are qui­et and don’t have tailpipes emit­ting car­bon monox­ide and oth­er nox­ious gas­es. The air qual­i­ty at the event would be improved if the burn­ing of fos­sil fuels was min­i­mized. (Cleanup crews should use elec­tric blow­ers, too.)
  3. Pro­vide clear­ly-marked water sta­tions where parade­go­ers can eas­i­ly get reusable water bot­tles refilled. I brought my Kleen Kan­teen and sipped from it all after­noon, but with the excep­tion of the vol­un­teer-oper­at­ed water sta­tion out­side of First Unit­ed Methodist Church at the end of the route, I did­n’t see any place where I could get it refilled. Dis­pos­able plas­tic water bot­tles are extreme­ly waste­ful and we need to cut down on their use. If water sta­tions are made avail­able and peo­ple know about them, they will be more inclined to bring their reusable bot­tles. Platy­pus-style water pouch­es pro­vid­ed by a spon­sor could be giv­en away at these sta­tions too.
  4. Enforce the rule against toss­ing can­dy, trin­kets, con­fet­ti, or any­thing else — espe­cial­ly from mov­ing vehi­cles. The guide­lines for the Pride Parade already say quite explic­it­ly that “noth­ing may be thrown or tossed by your con­tin­gent (this includes small can­dies, trin­kets, etc).” Any mate­ri­als for dis­tri­b­u­tion are sup­posed to be hand­ed out direct­ly to parade spec­ta­tors. It’s a sen­si­ble restric­tion. Sad­ly, this rule is flout­ed every year. With bet­ter edu­ca­tion and robust enforce­ment, we’d have an event that would end with less trash in the street. And the event would be safer, too.
  5. Pro­vide recy­cling and com­post­ing recep­ta­cles along the parade route and at all Pride events so that few­er items go to the land­fill. Clear and sim­ple instruc­tions must be post­ed next to all recep­ta­cles, or else there’s not much chance of them being used prop­er­ly. Hav­ing vol­un­teers on hand to pro­vide guid­ance on recep­ta­cle use would be ide­al. Some­times peo­ple just need to know what to put into what container.

And final­ly: Pride should assem­ble a “Green Team” of vol­un­teers ded­i­cat­ed to imple­ment­ing the above strate­gies and addi­tion­al ideas that will make Pride a more envi­ron­men­tal­ly respon­si­ble insti­tu­tion. Clean­li­ness and pub­lic health need to be empha­sized the way safe­ty has been. That’s why it would make sense to put togeth­er an enthu­si­as­tic crew of peo­ple focused specif­i­cal­ly on reducing/eliminating waste and pol­lu­tion. Peo­ple’s behav­ior can be changed — but it takes work.

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