Programs & Events
Embassy Sustainability Initiative Leads the Way
August 12, 2011
When Financial Management Officer Javier Pareja arrived at U.S. Embassy Monrovia in September 2010, the first thing he did was ask about the Green Team.
“After working with the Green Team in Kigali, Rwanda, I was eager to get involved again,” said Pareja. “I was disappointed to learn there was no Green Team at the Embassy and no formal recycling in the country.”
Pareja decided it was time to change things. He recruited a group of American and Liberian colleagues to work with him on developing a local sustainability initiative. The Monrovia Green Team began by reviewing best practices generated by the Greening Diplomacy Initiative, the Department of State's initiative to improve the sustainability of facilities and operations worldwide. They then gathered information on local waste management practices and connected with Edgail, Inc., a company that had begun buying recyclable waste for bulk exports.
After months of planning and preparations, the Green Team launched Liberia’s first large-scale recycling program on Earth Day, April 22, 2011. The team opened a Recycling Center, distributed recycling bins to Embassy offices, and introduced the Green Pledge.
In remarks at the Earth Day event, Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield and Monrovia City Mayor Mary Broh each congratulated the Green Team on its initiative to collect and recycle all paper, cardboard, metal and plastic waste generated by the Embassy. The paper-recycling program is a first for the country.
CHF International Country Director Brett Sedgewick collaborated with the Green Team on the initiative, which he sees as a game changer. “The recycling program in Liberia is nascent,” he said. “The Embassy’s implementation of a large scale recycling program is an incredible way to guarantee a large volume of segregated material for emerging recycling businesses.”
Sedgewick expects the initiative will encourage other large actors to pursue similar efforts.
“No one is doing such a comprehensive segregation recycling program at any scale,” said Sedgewick. “The impact is tremendous.”
The Earth Day launch was just the beginning of the Green Team’s efforts. In June 2011, the group exhibited at the Embassy’s World Environment Day Arts & Crafts Fair in an effort to educate community members about actions they can take to help protect the environment. In July, the Green Team expanded recycling services to Embassy residences and other facilities. Plans are in the works to continue expanding the recycling program and community outreach efforts, in addition to reusing rainwater runoff and composting plant waste.