The San Francisco Green Festival was somewhat of a sanctuary after my dismal visit to the bay on Friday. It was huge, HUGE! I went intending to browse and gather information. I ended up with a backpack and tote bag full of stuff but almost zero plastic. (I’ll tell you about the one bit of plastic I’ll be sending back at the end of this post.)
Anyway, after walking a couple of miles to the festival from the wharf, I was starving and headed directly for the food court, where I was happy to see that all the offerings were organic, the tableware was compostable, and the water was piped into a water station rather than served in plastic bottles. I had a tasty veggie wrap and salad from Back to Earth Organic Caterers and filled up my own Klean Kanteen at the water station. Instead of taking their disposable napkins and compostable cutlery, I used my own cloth napkin and To-Go-Ware utensils.
I was also heartened to see many waste stations at convenient intervals throughout the festival with bins for garbage, recycling, and compost. And each station was manned by at least one volunteer who made sure materials were placed in the correct containers. It’s reassuring to think that the compostable foodware used at this event will actually end up being composted.
After regaining my strength, I was ready for some serious browsing. I was happy to see some of my favorite vendors there.
Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps (whose soaps come in 100% post-consumer recycled plastic bottles):
And by the way, Kristin at Straus told me that the company is working on creating a potato-based container for their yogurt to replace petro-plastic. They are shooting to have it in place a year from now. They are committed to organic ingredients and will not use containers made from corn or other GMO sources.
I ended up buying:
- 3 bars of Kallari Rainfamily Rainforest chocolate (promoted as the only chocolate bar at the festival actually harvested, processed, and marketed by a family in the Amazon rather than being shipped to the states for processing.)
- 1 Soi natural soy candle and skin moisturizer (the wax melts into a liquid that can be used on your skin) for a co-worker’s birthday
- 1 Littlearth Road Journal made from a recycled license plate and recycled paper
- 2 Purrfectplay.com organic natural fiber catnip “mice” for my friend’s new baby kittens
- 1 EcoMetro Guide Community Coupons book, which is like a green version of the Entertainment coupon book. In addition to East Bay, CA, there are also coupon books for Eugene, Portland, Seattle, and Twin Cities.
- 1 Cobrahead long-handled weeding/cultivating tool for when I get around to cultivating the hard, dried-up patch of earth along the side of our house. (And yes, this impulse purchase occurred late in the day after my visit to the organic beer and wine garden.)
And I also took away a bunch of freebies from various vendors: movie passes, T-shirt, soap, chocolate samples, reusable tote bags, and even a couple of CFLs in plastic-free boxes.
Of course, there were a lot of items at the festival in plastic packaging. I didn’t bother taking pictures of or noting most of it because I’ve become so used to seeing organic, natural products packaged in plastic these days that it doesn’t phase me anymore. I just don’t buy those things. But there were two plastic problems worth mentioning.
First, my favorite grocery store in the world, Rainbow Grocery, was giving out plastic bottles of Crystal Geyser water at their booth.
Huh??? I asked the Rainbow representative why they were selling bottled water, and she replied, “We’re not selling it; we’re giving it away!” Oh, how silly of me. That makes all the difference in the world. NOT! What were they thinking? It’s not like everyone else was doing it. While a few vendors were selling their own juices and energy drinks in bottles, not a single other vendor was thoughtless enough to bring bottled water. So I asked, “Why, Rainbow Grocery, why?” And the rep showed me a stack of “Think Outside The Bottle” brochures and said she was educating the people who took the water by giving them a brochure with each bottle. Once again, “Huh???” Why not educate people by NOT GIVING OUT BOTTLED WATER IN THE FIRST PLACE? How about handing them a brochure and pointing them to the water station if they’re thirsty?
So that was plastic surprise #1. I didn’t notice plastic surprise #2 until I got home and emptied out my goodie bag and noticed a terrible smell. In fact, this smell is not unlike that of San Francisco Bay earlier in the day. It came from the Discovery Channel’s Planet Green reusable tote bag, which I’d been planning to give away. But I can’t subject anyone to the plastic fumes from this bag besides the folks who brought it into the world to begin with. So I’ll be sending it back to the Discovery Channel with a nice little note. Funny, the bag says, “My Carbon Footprint Is Smaller Than Yours.” Somehow, I doubt it.
So, that’s my report on the Green Festival. It was a lot of fun and kind of overwhelming. There were many, many more organizations, vendors, and topics represented than I have touched on here. If you have a chance to go to a Green Festival in your area (the next one is in Seattle in April), I recommend it. But maybe leave your money and credit cards at home if you don’t want to break any vows you might have made to not buy anything new.