Getting Trashed at the DC Green Festival

This morning I brought a group of college students to the D.C. Green Festival to volunteer on the Green Team. The D.C. Green Festival is one of the country’s largest environmental consumer event and is taking place Saturday and Sunday at the Convention Center (September 29-30, 2012). It’s actually the only national sustainability event that screens exhibitors for their commitment to social justice, sustainability and ecological balance. The festival itself aims to have as little an impact on the environment as possible and the green team helps out basically by sorting through trash ūüėȬ†

Throughout the festival, Ford had set up some resource recovery stations where some of the students ¬†assisted event guests with deposing of trash in the proper trash bins, based on whether the waste could be recycled, reused, composted or none of the above. In the back of the house, some of the other students (and myself) went through the bags one more time to make sure they had been sorted properly and that there was no contamination amongst the resources. It was a great (but rather dirty) hands-on learning experience for all of us¬†and I was shocked at how¬†careless people can be about waste… even at a convention about being green! The worst moment was when we received a bag full of trash from the Starbucks inside the convention center. I won’t go into details, but Starbucks does not sort through their waste and we basically had to do it for them. There were plastic bottles covered in wet ground coffee beans and yogurt and dirty napkins… it was pretty gross!¬†

On a more enjoyable note, after our shift ended we all got to explore the festival. As an additional assignment, the students have to email me 5 new sustainable practices, businesses, products or ideas that have made an impression on them during their time there. Here’s my homework:

From top left to bottom left: 1) Hydros Filtering Water Bottles. A great alternative to drinking bottle water, hydros bottles basically filter tap water on the go. Like brita to go kinda. And after seeing how many water bottles were being thrown out, just during my 4 hour shift sorting through the festival’s resources, I am more sensitive to the fact that 4 hydros filters can save 600 plastic bottles from going to landfills every year. 2) Brad’s Raw Food. Brad Gruno was your typical overweight American until he moved back home to Buck’s County, PA and became a devout raw foodie. He started making raw chips for his personal consumption, saw a good business opportunity and the rest is history. Now an entirely ¬†raw diet is a bit much for me (though I am a huge fan of steak tartare!) but I do like to incorporate some raw snacks here and there and I was a big fan of the raw leafy kales (especially the spicy Nasty Hot! and the new Pina Kale-ada) as well as the beet and indian raw chips. 3) Back to the Roots mushroom kit. After graduating from UC Berkeley, Nikhil Arora and Alejandro Velez turned down lucrative private sector job offers to become full time urban mushroom farmers. What set them apart? Their gourmet mushrooms are actually grown on recycled coffee grounds. They now employ 17 people and have been featured on Oprah. Not bad right? What’s not bad either is the way they work with schools to get kids interested in growing their own food. 4) Relay Foods¬†iis an¬†online food marketplace, offering an array of local, organic, artisanal, and gourmet foods, plus a comprehensive selection of everyday groceries straight to your door or to a convenient pick up location. 5) These adorable and colourful sandwich snack bags from Snack Taxi. I mean, how cute are they?¬†

The D.C. Green Festival is also happening Saturday and Sunday, September 29-30, 2012 at the D.C. Convention Center. Tickets start at $10 and in addition to the cool marketplace, there’s also DIY demosntrations, a green film festival, workshops and speakers so everyone can learn more about making greener choices. And if you do go, have a thought for the Green Team and throw of trash in the proper recycling bin!

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