Green Festival SF – Take-aways, Part 1

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Last Friday through Sunday the San Francisco Green Festival was going on at the Concourse Exhibition Center.  I’ve been a big fan of Co-op America (coproducer of the event, along with Global Exchange, another excellent org) for a number of years and Jeph and I donate to them whenever we can.  Green Festival (which takes place in multiple cities across the US) is something I’ve been wanting to check out.  This year we had the opportunity, and enjoyed it.

It’s a well organized event which really strives to practice what they’re preaching: economic, social, and environmental responsibility.    To that end, almost all byproducts of the event are recycled or composted (only 2% went into landfills last year.)  The “Resource Recovery Stations” were impressive, including bins for liquids to be cleaned/reused, and volunteers to assure that the right stuff went in the right spot.  Speaking of volunteers, there were tons of them, and they all seemed approachable and like they were having a pretty good time.  That’s nice to see.  There was also a free bio-diesel shuttle from Market St, free bike valet (!), and discount for bikers.  So they encourage non-fossil fuel transportation to and from.  Seven-Star, Inc, “Green Event Experts”, has partnered with Green Festival since the beginning.  Good job to them and the producers.

A series of events/activities took place during the week leading up to the main festival: Green Business Conference, Solution Tours, Green Film Festival, and Yoga Festival.  And during the 3 days of the main event, there were many, many speakers (all free with admission), musicians, childrens’ activities, and youth workshops.   So there were lots of ways to engage in this broad topic.

With over 400 exhibitors (all screened for “leadership in social and environmental responsibility…and commitment”), and big crowds, the Exhibition Center was pretty packed.  We explored on both Friday and Saturday (afternoon through evening.)  While a majority was goods for sale, there was also substantial representation by service providers and organizations.  A few of my favorites:

  • Green Dentistry – digital vs. x-ray tooth imaging; laser vs. x-ray decay detection; Waterlase instead of shots and drills (!); steam vs. chemical instrument sterilization; biodegradable exam area sterilization; environmentally sound mercury disposal; biocompatible fillings; Preserve toothbrushes (that’s great!); and an energy efficient office made up of green building materials and committed to using clean green products.  What’s not to like about that?  I think all of the things I’ve been disliking about the dentist experience have been eliminated by Dr. Patel and her team.  Let’s hope many more dentists embrace these technologies and practices.  Very nice website, too.
  • Mr. Ellie Pooh – recycling elephant poop (the average adult elephant lets loose 500 lbs per day) into paper; the paper is also handmade into journals, photo albums, stationary, etc; they are working hard to provide economic incentives for the native Sri Lankans to live in harmony with the elephants, instead of killing them when they graze on crops (which they are doing because, guess what, humans are encroaching on their roaming land); no toxic chemicals, bleach or acids involved in production.  This is the kind of innovative thinking the world needs much much more of if we are to coexist peacefully and sustainably.  Big props from me because I have a HUGE softspot for elephants and a goal of helping them thrive as they deserve.
  • Computer Recycling Center – there’s nothing positive about millions of pounds of plastic and toxic chemicals going into the earth in the form of old electronics; these guys are doing something to help that; they accept all unwanted electronics, promoting reuse first, recycling second; and, their service is free.  Highly commendable.

Up Next: Green Festival SF – Takeaways, Part 2: Mutabaruka and Chuck D (including video snippets)

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