Sin City Goes Green

Sin City Goes Green

It’s hard to be an environmentalist and party in Vegas.

I don’t think I’ve ever seen such overconsumption and indulgence as I did during a girls' weekend away in Sin City. It’s obvious why people go there to escape real life – the strip is constructed to create an alternate universe where nothing is off bounds. (I will admit my senses had a hard time grasping that I was indoors while strolling through the Venetian at twilight, as the ‘sky’ filled with stars and gondolas passed by on the ‘canal.’ It’s not real life.)

But the consequences of such unrelenting consumption on the environment are very real. I’d be nervous to see just how much waste leaves a casino at the end of just one night.

Now Realm of Design, a company that produces architectural elements, is trying to make good with just some of that waste. They collected 500,000 beer bottles from the strip, crushed them, and then formed them into a composite building material called GreenStone. This ‘stone’ can take the place of concrete, a material with one massive carbon footprint.

All that GreenStone was used to build the world’s largest building from glass bottles – the recently completed Morrow Royal Pavilion. The lavish building fits right in with the rest of Sin City’s over the top architecture. Except one thing - because of the materials used to build it, 290,000 pounds of glass were diverted from landfills and traditional recycling plants.

Sure, one eco building is hardly going to leave the town painted green, but it’s a start to get people talking about the environment while strolling the strip. It might just bring a small ounce of reality to the experience.

July 23, 2012