Wyclef Jean, TreeHugger's Graham Hill and Recycle Runway Rock the First Green Inaugural Ball

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The nation's capital is the place to be this long weekend, as festivities for President-Elect Barack Obama's inauguration kicked off and hundreds of thousands of visitors swarm the city for the big event. Green is a prominent theme this year, as we reported last week in a post on Five Ways Obama's Inauguration Festivities Will Be Green.

Balls have progressively grown more popular at each inauguration, and this year may take the cake as the most celebrated American inauguration in history, at least in terms of formal parties scheduled in the capital. Revelers who can afford tickets -- most are well over $150 -- or make the guest lists are scrambling to get into one of the dozens of balls held between Saturday and Tuesday. Environmentalists have their chance to celebrate the new president and his promise to address the "planet in peril" at two inaugural balls. The first of the two Green Balls, sponsored by Planet Green, concluded Saturday night around 1 am at the elegant Andrew Mellon Auditorium just two blocks from the National Mall. This Green Inaugural Ball, which charged guests $500 per ticket, is not to be confused with the 2009 Green Ball, with special guest Al Gore to be held Monday night.

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Highlights of the January 17th ball included a rousing performance by Wyclef Jean and a speech by TreeHugger.com founder Graham Hill, who offered the audience tips on how to green their every day activities. Model, activist and on-air correspondent for Planet Green Summer Raynes Oakes promoted Power Shift 2009, the second national youth summit to solve the climate crisis to be held in Washington February 27 - March 2.

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We were also impressed with models sporting the newest Recycle Runway collection, made from discarded 2008 campaign materials. The day after the election, designer Nancy Judd went dumpster diving behind the Obama campaign headquarters in northern New Mexico and filled her car with yard signs and paper door hangers.

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In a celebrity heavy week, sightings were sparse at the Green Ball with the exception of Hayden Panettiere, an actress on the show Heroes, and singer Jackson Browne, both noted for their interest and commitment to environmental issues.

According to the ball's organizers, every facet of the Green Ball was designed to minimize environmental impact. Among the various green elements of the ball were:

1) The Andrew W. Mellon Auditorium was selected as the venue for this event because it is conveniently located just a half a block from Metro and guests were encouraged to take advantage of public transportation

2) Buffets included organic and local ingredients with vegetarian and vegan options

3) The bars served local and organic beverages and all bottles were recycled

4) All of the food waste from The Green Ball was composted at a local farm

5) Staff and VIPs were transported to the Ball in electric cars

6) All ticket sales were handled on-line to eliminate paper waste

7) The power used to produce the event was offset by the purchase of Renewable Energy Credits from American Wind, Renewable Choice Energy’s signature portfolio

8) Our own Graham Hill said he was impressed that guests did not receive gift bags, which often create unnecessary waste

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The only thing we noticed that was less than ideal was the bottled water as the only water option at the ball. As a rule we like tap water as the most eco-friendly water option for restaurants and events.

All photos by Eliza Barclay

More on Green Events:

London Design Festival 2008 Green Events Round-Up

D.C. Museum Offers Tons of Green Events and Tips
Fashion Takes Action: How To Run A Green Event
and at Planet Green
Celebrate the Inauguration in Eco-Style with Wyclef Jean

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