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Saturday, October 22, 2011

Practicing what they preach

Local Occupiers Committed to Green Community 

By TIM FAULKNER/ecoRI News staff
PROVIDENCE — In less than a week, the Occupy Providence encampment is already greener than most Rhode Island businesses. 

With more than 100 tents and 225 demonstrators settled in at Burnside Park, the community has instituted environmental practices such as recycling, composting and reusing utensils. 

Providence occupiers are 
encouraged to reuse. 
(Tim Faulkner/ecoRI News staff photos)
Not all ideas have worked out, such as a bike-powered cell phone charger that broke down pretty quickly, but the activists are committed to going green and would gladly welcome environmental upgrades such as a solar array to replace the diesel generator currently powering lights and computers.
Relying on donated food supplies, such as cases of water and soda in plastic bottles, make it hard to adhere to sustainable living. Disposable food packaging and styrofoam plates abound and single-sided printouts spew from the media center's busy printer.
But these occupiers do partake in the local food movement, subsisting on donated produce from community gardens, and drinking coffee and water from refillable decanters. Compact florescent light bulbs are used for lighting. Even with the gusty downtown wind, the park grounds stay somewhat clean thanks to morning trash pickups. 
Air drying laundry at Burnside Park.
.Other occupy movements have adopted alternative energy sources. Solar panels are powering laptops in Washington, D.C., and solar cell phone chargers are running in New York City.

New practices seem to be popping up daily in Providence, such as an organic gardening seminar that was held Friday.
While Rhode Island business must recycle, state law doesn't mandate recycling at outdoor events, such as road races or the Burnside demonstration. 
But the Occupy Providence spokespeople say protecting the environment is a priority. When and if these protesters break camp, they promise to follow the carry-in, carry-our credo.
"There was a commitment early on that we are going to keep (Burnside Park) in better shape than we found it," said Nick Schmader of Warwick.