Category Archives: entertainment

5 Reasons to Attend Green Festival

Green Fest Banner NYCWhen we think of festivals, we oftentimes think of a community celebration – typically centered on music, food, or art. So it’s apropos that the “largest and longest-running sustainability and green living event” in America is the Green Festival®. Attendees enjoy music, food, and art as well as education and “green” products/services. Over the past 13 years it’s grown into more than a festival – it’s Festival Plus.

Green Festival visits five U.S. cities each year: New York City, Washington D.C., Los Angeles, Chicago, and San Francisco. Chicago’s Navy Per is the next stop, with more than 250 businesses showing their wares over three days. We’ve attended several times in Washington.

Here are the five reasons it’s worth going.

 1. Green Festival Exhibit Floor DCSustainable Stuff. I’m always amazed at the range of exhibitors and presentations as well as the quality of the food and products in the marketplace. On the exhibit floor, there’s everything from Ford showing its latest electric and hybrid cars to a small natural soap maker called The Fanciful Fox. You’ll see brands you know, such as Clif Bar, and many you don’t. We talked with some of the vendors who were still operating out of their homes. And there are many free samples!

2. Ideas. The event is also a great chance to learn new things about living sustainably. The upcoming Chicago event, for example, has almost 50 speakers – including authors, filmmakers, politicians, musicians, and scientists. Ralph Nader spoke at the Washington event. There were 83 speakers at the recent Los Angeles festival. Topics range from gardening to yoga to solar power.

GFCommunityAward3. Awards. Green Festival offers a Community Award at each location – a $5,000 grant awarded to a deserving local non-profit, chosen by the public on-site at the festival and online. Selected at the Washington D.C. event was The Arcadia Center for Sustainable Food and Agriculture, which is dedicated to creating a more equitable and sustainable local food system in the Washington, DC area.

4. Low Cost. Admission is reasonable and family friendly at only ten bucks per person (16 and under free, discounts to seniors and students). Volunteers enjoy free admission.

Kids Activities NYC5. Children and Adult Friendly. There’s a play area, puppet shows, dancing, plus plenty of products geared to children. And with kids (and adults like me) it’s always great to have a ready source of inexpensive and tasty food (some spicy!) nearby. Plus fashion shows, musical performances, and more for the grownups.

Green Festival is a fun way to learn more about sustainable living, through food, music, art, shopping, and discussions.


Green Festival DC – Sustainability Show Off

Washington, D.C. 2013 Event Guide
See sustainability in action at the Green Festival DC.

We’re excited to be attending the upcoming Green Festival DC, at the DC Convention Center this coming weekend. It’s the ninth iteration of the festival which we’ve attended the last few years. What is the Green Festival? It’s a place to see and learn about sustainability from economic, cultural, and environmental perspectives. Like we often say here, there are many aspects to living with a sustainability mindset rather than one of blind consumption.

There’s yummy organic food and interesting speakers including iconic Ralph Nader. And a Green Kids Zone as well as an eco-fashion show. So the festival has something for almost everyone, with a focus on sustainability. There’s also lots of food samples, free Ford electric-car rides, and hundreds of vendors. We know from experience that the festival is fun and informative!

This year, there is an expanded emphasis on food, and who doesn’t like food? Food highlights include:

  • Wenonah Hauter, Executive Director of Food and Water Watch and author of the best-selling book Foodopoly, who will speak about food policy
  • DC-based FRESHFARM Markets (FRESHFARM Markets FoodPrints Program) who will present special sessions on “Eating Healthy On A Budget”
  • An Organic Food Court and a Sustainable Beer & Wine Garden
  • Workshops on raising backyard chickens, composting, growing herbs and other sustainability topics.

According to its organizers, Green America and Global Exchange, tickets are $10 for a one day pass and $20 for a full weekend pass when purchased online at, or $15 and $25 at the door. (All tickets provide access to exhibit floor, all workshops/yoga classes, speakers and films.) And there is FREE admission for anyone who rides a bike to the event and parks with the Clif Bar bike valet, youth under eighteen, union members, volunteers and Green America and Global Exchange members.

Location: Walter E. Washington Convention Center, 801 Mount Vernon Place N.W. Hall A, in Washington, DC. Hour are Saturday, September 21st 10am – 6pm and Sunday, September 22nd 11am – 5pm.

The Mindful Consumer will be there, tweeting from @mindfulconsumer. Let us know if you’re going and we’ll try to meet you. Of course watch Twitter and this blog for our perspectives and announcements from the festival.



It’s a few weeks until that unique holiday that somehow relates warding off death with costumes and candy. A head-scratcher for sure, yet Halloween purportedly has its origins 2000 years ago in an ancient Celtic festival celebrated on the night of October 31. That night, Celtics wore costumes to ward off what they believed were ghosts returning from the dead. They also built large bonfires to offer sacrifices to the Celtic gods.

Now, largely secular, Halloween is a significant boo-ming business for costume and candy companies. According to a article, in the U.S. people spend an estimated $6 billion annually on Halloween, making it the country’s second largest commercial holiday. With all of this consumption, what about the affects on the environment?

Besides the obvious challenges of candy and its affects on health, candy presents challenges to consumers concerned with fair trade and sustainability. Chocolate is particularly troublesome, with ties to slave and child labor in the harvesting of cocoa. GoodGuide uses scientists and other experts to provide “the world’s largest and most reliable source of information on the health, environmental, and social impacts of consumer products.” Its candy evaluations show you options that might be greener than your normal choices.

Costumes are sold in the large box stores as well as specialty retailers. There are of course even costumer-only stores open in the weeks preceding the holiday. Like wedding dresses, many of these costumers get worn once. Children “need” to be different characters each year or the costumer from last year just doesn’t fit. However, these store-bought costumers and masks can be spooky in other ways. The EcoWaste Coalition tested a variety of Halloween products and results showed high levels of heavy metals such as antimony, arsenic, cadmium, chromium, lead and mercury in some of the samples. Fortunately, one can make their own costume. There are many do-it-yourself costume ideas online. You could also arrange a costume swap with other parents to trade. Or find a swap event on the National Cotume Swap Day site. Consignment and thrift stores might be sources of costume parts. Some communities hold costume design contests with focus on using recycled and sustainable materials. Finally, don’t throw it away when there are people who want but can’t afford costumes for their children.

Pumpkins are great fun to carve and see lit up. Buy those grown at a local farm if you can, rather than those shipped from distant lands. Using beeswax candles is more environmentally friendly than using paraffin-based candles. You can use the innards of the pumpkin to eat – both the seeds and pulp can be tasty. When it’s all over, the shell can be composted rather than thrown in the garbage; some communities even offer pumpkin recycling. So don’t just throw it away – there are many things you can do instead.

So while it can be intimidating to get ready for Halloween, don’t be scared about trying to be green on this black holiday.


Green Baseball Stadiums: Play Ball!

Buy me some organic peanuts and gluten-free sustainable cracker jacks.. well, not really

Baseball is both a summertime staple, and the national pastime. Here in Washington DC, the Nationals Park is leading the way in green operations. Where better than the Nation’s capital to appreciate the United States’ first major stadium accredited as a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) structure. In fact, it exceeded green certifications and was awarded the Green Building Council’s silver status, according to the Nationals website. How does a building follow LEED specifications? At the Nationals stadium that means a minimum of 10% of the building is recycled materials, much of the materials were also locally supplied, green roofing that deflects heat,  and an intricate ground and storm water filtration system that takes in to account the close proximity to the Anacostia river. Besides just the building construction, the stadium also institutes drought resistant landscaping, water conserving plumbing help reduce water consumption by 30% (that’s 3.6 million gallons a year) and energy conserving light fixtures that save 21% of energy costs and help reduce light pollution. It is conveniently located by a metro stop, and it is quite an experience loading on to the subway with your fellow baseball fans dressed in their Nationals garb. On game days you don’t even need to know which exits to get off, just follow all the fans! The area where the stadium has been built will boost economic growth, and create a positive influence in an area of DC otherwise known for quite the opposite.
Statistics are one thing, but visiting the park is quite another. Ron and I frequent games there (via Metro, of course) and the park is beautiful. Talk to someone who has been to the park, and no matter who they are cheering for, ask them what they think about the stadium. Even when you leave your seats (to go get some yummy vegetarian chili at the Hard Times Cafe, a local business who has an in-park location) you can still see the field from almost anywhere you stand. Don’t think that because this baseball stadium has these green features that it in any way changes that classic feel of a baseball park: it does not. For the average baseball patron who didn’t know the facts, Nationals stadium is everything that makes a ballpark a ballpark: beer, hot dogs, fans, and of course, a great game. Even if your beloved team wins or loses, the environment wins every single game. Play ball!

Visit the Nationals PDF of the green features here



Disneynature's Oceans

I do not know what I may appear to the world; but to myself I seem to have been only like a boy playing on the seashore, and diverting myself in now and then finding a smoother pebble or a prettier shell than ordinary, whilst the great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered before me. Isaac Newton (1642 – 1727), From Brewster, Memoirs of Newton (1855)

Sara and I went to see the Disneynature film Oceans, that was released on Earth Day. I expected a crowded theater for the Saturday night showing, however the place was less than 1/4 full. Oceans is doing fairly well at the box office, taking in an estimated 8.5 million dollars in the U.S. its first week (as of Sunday) in theaters (Box Office Mojo). This is good news for coral reefs, because, “In honor of each moviegoer who sees the movie during opening week (April 22-28), Disneynature will give $0.20 for each ticket sold to The Nature Conservancy’s Adopt a Coral Reef program.” If we assume each ticket costs $10, that’s about 850,000 moviegoers, resulting in a donation of $170,000 – and the week is not over! Oceans had a $80 million budget, which sounds like a lot, but #1 this week is How to Train Your Dragon with a budget of $165 million.

The photography in Oceans is phenomenal. Reportedly the film took five years to produce. New cameras and methods were developed to acquire some spectacular shots. Seeing the footage of the dolphins swimming, feeding, and jumping is alone worth the price of admission. There are views of some rare fish and plenty of food-chain excitement. As a geographer, I was hoping for more about the oceans – where they are, their changing perception by humans over history, etc. As a geographer, I was hoping for more about the oceans – where they are, their changing perception by humans over history, etc.

From a conservation standpoint, the movie is strong in its images and that should cause viewers to connect to the ocean perhaps more than they already connect. There is also a short section showing a net with sea creatures trapped in it as well as garbage underwater. But I think overall it could be stronger on its conservation message. Yet, it IS Disney, so I didn’t expect a lot more; the movie targets families who don’t want to exit depressed. Oceans will raise awareness of the spectacular part of the Earth often unseen. That education is a big step toward conservation.