Sunday, October 24, 2010

Green Festival recap

This weekend was the Green Festival in Washington, DC and, although I was very excited to attend, I wasn't that impressed.  Sure they had at least a hundred booths representing different and innovative environmental ideas, and several of them even had delicious samples to try and take home.  However, my overall impression was that they didn't offer much for those people who aren't already green.  It didn't give me new ways to be more eco-friendly without being very impractical, time consuming or inconvenient.

There were plenty of vendors in attendance to show you how to green your home, but I wasn't in the market for that.  There was a row of booths dedicated to being a green parent for infants and toddlers, but not for older kids like my own.  And then there were a few clothing vendors who sold clothes made of organic cotton or recycled water bottles that were overpriced.  Then there were those EXTREME eco-products like compost toilets and a spray that takes the color and smell out of the urine in your toilet bowl so you don't have to flush it.   I can't make stuff like that up.  

There were only a few select vendors that caught my attention where I actually spoke with their spokesperson or company owner for more than just a few seconds.  The rest of the booths started to blend together after a couple of hours spent there, which was highly disappointing.  If you tried one chocolate sample, you tried them all, you know?  There weren't enough companies promoting things for greening everyday living and that was disappointing.

Another disappointment in the festival was that their ad promoted a children's section that was going to highlight what the new National Children's Museum in DC would feature.  And because of this I decided to take my 9 year old son with me.  It was a waste of time.  They had reserved some open space in the convention center where kids could draw with crayons, make crafts out of plastic bottle pieces, and play bowling with some 2 liters filled with rice.  Thank goodness my son found the rest of the stuff in the other booths interesting or I would've owed him plenty for dragging him through this festival. 

But the biggest disappointment for me was the prices of the things sold.  The chocolate bars being sold, (that we so eagerly tried in the many samples they had shared), cost $4 a bar!!  A 2-year-old's dress cost $45?  Really?  Sure it was made out of recycled water bottles, but it's still for a child who's going to outgrow it in a few months anyway.  Some people are eager to spend this kind of money, and I guess that's great for stimulating the economy.  But for the most part, there are still people struggling out there to make ends meet and I believe the green movement will not go anywhere if it can't be affordable to everyone.  

I already felt a little out of place since I wasn't a Rastafarian, hippy, or LGBT, so it didn't seem like the heavenly place I anticipated the festival to be.  The food they served was mostly vegetarian, vegan, or goat (that one really threw me off!), so we had some curried tofu and rice, and some vegan version of lasagna that was pretty disgusting.  

Sooo, the conclusion of this story is to say that I felt that although I am a proud environmentalist, even I felt excluded from this crowd.  I feel like there is so much improvement to be made in order to get this movement into the mainstream.  I seem to be pretty normal in comparison to some of these extreme vegan, hemp-wearing, patchouli-smelling people and I hope to be able to bring the rest of you normal people into this movement with me.  A few simple steps don't have to cost you your paycheck, and some things will actually save you money.  I was pretty disappointed not to find anything like that at the festival, so maybe I'll set up my own booth at the festival next year.  :)  

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