Encouraging a Greener World

By Caroline Kettlewell
Special to The Washington Post
Friday, October 13, 2006

Maybe one day we'll look back on 2006 as the year that green went decidedly mainstream.

In the past six months, Vanity Fair magazine produced its first "green" issue; Al Gore's "An Inconvenient Truth" hit movie theaters across the country; billionaire Richard Branson announced plans to donate about $3 billion over the next 10 years to fight global warming; and Wal-Mart declared that its corporate goals would include zero waste, 100 percent renewable energy and the sale of sustainable products.

This year, it seems, everyone from suburban parents to chief executives is waking up to the understanding that "Earth friendly" isn't a dreamy notion of neo-hippies but a way to keep our planet habitable.

Fortunately, if you've ever been under the impression that green means cold showers and a painful shortage of humor or chic, you're likely to feel differently after you've been to the Green Festival on Saturday and Sunday at the Washington Convention Center. This will be the third annual Green Festival in the District. (There's also a San Francisco Green Festival in November and one in Chicago in April.)

Whether you're a devoted greeniac or simply a curious newcomer, according to Green Festival Director Denise Hamler, you'll find just what the name suggests: a festival of music, film, food, education, activity, entertainment and shopping, all of it eco-friendly.

"I often tell people who don't know anything about Green Festival that it is a celebration of the best of what's working in our community," Hamler says.

Knock back an organic beer. Sample tasty eats. Visit the mobile rain forest. Redesign your home with furniture, paints, flooring and more from ECO Supply Center ( http://www.ecosupplycenter.com ). Pick up a styling laptop bag made from recycled chopsticks (Kwytza Kraft, http://www.chopstickart.com ) or -- to delight any 7-year-old of your acquaintance -- some Mr. Ellie Pooh paper ( http://www.mrelliepooh.com ) made from recycled Sri Lankan elephant dung.

"It's an introduction to the great variety of eco-friendly products and services," Hamler says, "and we bring them all together in one place for the weekend."

You can take a yoga class. You can learn about green careers, green education and how to save money and the planet with energy-efficient products. You can attend seminars on such topics as "The Lazy Environmentalist," "Drink Beer and Save the World" or "The Solar Future: Making It Happen Now."

The children can come, too. They might pass on the wheatgrass smoothie, but the festival includes a Kid Zone, where there will be activities such as maskmaking, a puppet parade and storytelling, along with the Discovery Creek Children's Museum Rolling Rainforest ( http://www.discoverycreek.org ).

What Hamler hopes people will take away from the Green Festival is inspiration. "In our society, we are often deluged with negativity and not with solutions," she says. "Green Festival is all about making it easier for people to make positive changes in their lives that make positive changes for our environment and the planet. You can walk away with a whole portfolio on how to green your life and make it more sustainable."

GREEN FESTIVAL Saturday 10 to 8, Sunday 11 to 6. Washington Convention Center, 801 Mount Vernon Pl. NW (Metro: Mount Vernon Square-Convention Center); 202-249-3400.http://www.greenfestivals.org. $15 adults per day; $7 students, seniors and those who arrive on bicycles; children 12 and younger free. Benefit party Friday at 7 at the convention center, $50 per person includes two admissions to the Green Festival.

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