Gay and Green

Burgundy Crescent brings recycling to Capital Pride Festival

by Will O'Bryan
Published on June 5, 2008, 12:00am | Comments

In the local GLBT community, volunteering has a color: burgundy. Since its forming in 2001, Burgundy Crescent Volunteers have infused themselves into nearly all aspects of the gay community and beyond, logging more than 60,000 volunteer hours serving as everything from ushers to line cooks. But the BCV palette recently added another color: green.

Coined by BCV co-founder and vice president, Eric Cohen, ''BurGREENdy'' is the group's new environmentally friendly initiative. Though Cohen coined the phrase, board members Rebecca Roose and Steven Rentz are leading the charge, and they've set their sights on the Capital Pride Festival by asking this question, which appears on the BCV Web site: ''Do you love walking around the Capital Pride Festival but hate seeing the piles of plastic water bottles that you know are going to end up in a landfill rather than get recycled?''

Rentz and Roose hope that anyone answering ''yes'' will join them in the festival's first recycling effort, ''Recycle With Pride.''

''I think we just decided, 'How come Pride's not green?''' recalls Rentz, pointing to a BCV board meeting earlier this spring. ''We were looking for a project on a larger scale, so we got in touch with the people in charge of planning Capital Pride. [And] the D.C. Office of Recycling provides these services for events, so they are providing all the bins, delivery and pickup.''

What volunteers will be doing, Rentz explains, is placing recycling bins around the festival, offering guidance and encouraging festival-goers to go green. It's a natural fit for Rentz, who says he's been recycling for 24 years -- since he was 4. Raised in the Quaker faith, environmentalism, he says, was the rule. The house he shares with his partner in West Hyattsville is evidence that the lessons of childhood stuck.

''We recycle pretty much everything. We've reduced our water usage by installing low-flow showerheads. We cut back on energy by installing fans, putting in [compact-fluorescent] bulbs. We have a lawn, but we don't water anything. We just let nature take its course. We have a push mower. Everything is indigenous, low-impact, perennial.''

While Rentz's devotion to going green is impressive, Recycle With Pride asks only that festival goers deposit their trash responsibly.

''I'm actually very optimistic. Outside of the normal chaos of any event this size, I think it will be pretty easy to get done. I think it's going to be great. The success of being environmentally friendly has to do with each individual paying attention and recycling when they're there. If every person recycles one or two bottles, then we've got [thousands of] water bottles recycled that wouldn't be otherwise. Success is determined by everyone's participation.''

Though the District could not confirm by Metro Weekly deadline, Rentz says his conversations with the D.C. Office of Recycling lead him to believe that Recycle With Pride will be the largest recycling effort of any of the city's annual festivals.

With volunteers, obviously, being at the center of everything BCV does, Rentz says the Recycle With Pride initiative could use a few more. He says 12 have already signed on, but that he'd really like to have 30.

Joining the effort, he says, is not only a way to make the planet a little healthier, but also to show the GLBT community's civic commitment.

''It kind of goes in tandem with being gay and coming to Pride,'' he says. ''It's making a difference environmentally and leading as a community. The gay community can be a leader.''

For more information about Burgundy Crescent Volunteers and BurGREENdy, visit www.burgundycrescent.org. Those interested in volunteering should e-mail jonathan@burgundycrescent.org.