Tag Archives: green companies

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 Options Shouldn’t be Higher Priced than the Alternatives

Yesterday Sara and I were shopping at the grocery store and one of the things we needed was glass cleaner. Normally I grab the lowest price alternative for an item such as this. However, some labeling pulled my eyes to green alternatives. In some, vinegar is the main ingredient rather than ammonia and chemicals. There were some cleaners from “eco=friendly” companies. But for the same size the cost range was 100 percent different. The least expensive was the store generic brand copycat of the standard blue glass cleaner while the most expensive was the one from the eco-friendly company. I settled on the vinegar-based alternative of one of the leading brands. It’s cost was only 10% higher than the lowest.

But I was irritated in the store. People WANT to use green products, however studies show a much lower proportion actually BUY green alternatives. In one research study, while 40% of consumers indicated they are willing to purchase green products, only 4% of them actually do when given the choice. Well, no wonder; so many are priced higher than the alternatives — and not by a little in many cases. The same study showed 3 of 5 consumers think environmentally friendly alternatives are too expensive. You want organic? Eco-friendly? Fuel efficient? Less packaging? Pay up. It’s as if those pricing products think green is a category about which only the wealthy care.

Of course there are economics involved affecting the product lifecycle. Lower costs can lead to lower prices. Efficiencies in manufacturing the old ways are inherent. Green products might use ingredients that are more expensive. But always? I doubt it. Instead, it seems buyers accept the higher prices so those selling have no motivation to adjust. Relatively low demand for green alternatives might be driven by price differences, especially in this economy.

Back to my glass cleaner experience, perhaps using good old Windex would be fine. SC Johnson claims to now make its Windex glass cleaner with 83% fewer VOCs (volatile organic compounds). Like many companies it has a sustainability initiative that includes a process to classify ingredients based on their affects on health and the environment. Or I could make my own glass cleaner from water, vinegar, and rubbing alcohol.

Sustainability initiatives and green alternatives are meaningful. In addition, manufacturers would be wise to evaluate the longer term effects of their eco-friendly product pricing, considering that more sales and product success will result, at least in part, from a broader consumer base. As long as green alternatives cost more, people will use them less.


Google Searching for Greener Energy

Google means Internet search – or does it?

Many of us know there are tools from Google that extend beyond search – e-mail, document creation, calendaring, photo/video sharing, Internet browsing, blogging, online chat, shopping, mapping, health records, patent search, online voicemail, and more. All of these tie into a person’s use of the computer or Internet.

But wind farming?

Actualy, Google has had interest in energy for some time. The bulk of energy spent by Google is in its computers that run the searches. These computers are grouped in what are called data centers. According to its Web site Google has a five-step plan for energy efficiency:

  1. Minimize electricity used by servers
  2. Reduce the energy used by the data center facilities themselves
  3. Conserve precious fresh water by using recycled water instead
  4. Reuse or recycle all electronic equipment that leaves its data centers
  5. Engage with its peers to advance smarter energy practices

Furthermore, Google asserts, “Google.org is working towards a clean energy future in a variety of ways: We’re working on developing utility scale renewable energy cheaper than coal (RE<C) and accelerating the commercialization of plug-in vehicles through the RechargeIT project. Our over-arching vision is to one day transform the global economy from one running on fossil fuels to one largely based on clean energy. Our Clean Energy 2030 plan offers a potential path to do just that.”

On Tuesday, it was announced that Google is a lead investor on a five-billion dollar project to use wind power to generate energy on the East Coast of the U.S. according to a study published Oct. 12 by the Global Wind Energy Council and Greenpeace International, wind could meet 12 percent of global power demand by 2020, and up to 22 percent by 2030. Previously, Google had invested in other wind farms.

So while Google surely uses a lot of energy in its businesses, it is working toward efficiencies and is investing in new energy solutions that should benefit others searching for clean power.


Re-Purposed Wood

Seeing a problem and finding a green solution is a great way to be mindful. Brian, a San Diego construction company owner did just that. He founded 8point8 , a reclaimed wood company that makes items from reclaimed wood that cannot be recycled because of nails. “As construction started to slow in 2008,” owner Brian explains, “and new Construction Recycling Regulations were coming into effect, I tried to put together a job-site recycling company. Nearly every material had its own recycling/reuse center except wood with nails, which was going to be the most expensive material to get rid of. After many experiments with different types of wood, aged Cedar turned out to work the best because of its low moisture content and natural resistance to rot.” Open to making any product that diverts wood from landfills, employing local craftsmen, and made in California. When I received my items in the mail, I was happy to see they were not packaged in Styrofoam packing peanuts, and companies like this who work towards solutions instead of ignore it, it is more than just re-purposed wood: it is re-purposed attitude.

See his shop at www.etsy.com/shop/8point8