Ecological Lunchroom Fail: U.S. Congress Reverts

The dining room at the U.S. Capitol building, where both the Senate and House of Representatives meet, has given up after an experiment with ecologically sound, compostable, disposable forks, spoons, knives, plates and cups, and reverted to plastic and styrofoam. The reasons? First, the ecologically sound corn-based disposable spoons grew soft and started to deform after a few minutes in hot soup. The knives couldn’t reliably cut anything harder than soft butter; one congressman indicated that he needed three or four to get through a meal.

Second, somebody ran the numbers. It turned out that, after accounting for the gasoline used by the trucks that took the Capitol’s compostable garbage to the recycler, the “green experiment” was actually putting out almost as much total pollution as the old, bad, petroleum-based plastic dinnerware and styrofoam cups. So, after the election, the House of Representatives voted to return to the older, less ecologically sound, but more functional dinnerware that they had used previously. (The Washington Post article suggests that the Democrats deliberately foisted this decision off on Republican lawmakers, but individually supported it. I’m unsure how accurate that little allegation is, although it makes a great story.)

They haven’t given up on the idea of “greening” the Capitol, however. They’re now considering (gasp!) *metal* cutlery and washable plates and cups. What cutting edge bit of ecological wizardry will they think of next? ;)

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