The blog formerly known as   Fake Plastic Fish

November 16, 2009

How to Survive the Green Festival

The Green Festival… this weekend was my third and probably best experience attending. I’ve read negative reviews of the Green Festival from green bloggers bemoaning that the vendor floor is so consumption-oriented and there is still so much plastic packaging and plastic products. Those comments may be valid. But you know what? The experience of The Green Festival is what you make of it. Here are some tips:

1) Meet up with your friends — the folks who create the products that you do love. I hung out with Jay from Life Without Plastic, the company that sells the airtight stainless containers I reviewed a year ago, on Friday afternoon and toured the vendor floor with him for a bit. He had just spent the previous days at the Green Business Conference and his enthusiasm was contagious.

SF Green Festival

2) Be a little outrageous. It’s the Green Festival. It’s your chance to sparkle. Walking past the ChicoBag table with Jay, I spotted a huge pile of disposable plastic grocery bags. My eyes lit up. “Is that the Bag Monster costume?” I asked. It was. So of course, I asked to try it on. Wouldn’t you?

SF Green Festival

The Bag Monster is surprisingly cozy and warm, I guess because the inside is all natural fabric rather than plastic. I should have gotten advice from ChicoBag when creating my plastic sea monster costume. Walking around all day in plastic garbage bags is not so comfortable or fun.

Jay got into the spirit and tried on the costume, too.

SF Green Festival

And then he and I had lunch with Suzanne & Madeleine from LunaPads.

SF Green Festival

3) Bring your own mug or water bottle, utensils, and reusable food container. Even though the San Francisco Green Festival has banned plastic foodware and collects and sends all the bio-based cups, plates, utensils, straws, napkins, etc. to San Francisco’s commercial compost facility, those single-use items still required materials and energy to produce. Why use disposable if you don’t have to?

4) Stop by booths of vendors who are still packaging their products in plastic and explain to them (nicely) why you can’t support them. In fact, I think next year I will print out some little flyers with information about plastic to hand to each vendor selling plastic with the heading, “Why I can’t purchase some or all of your products” and will provide information about plastic. The Green Festivals are all over for this year. But the KPFA Crafts & Music Fair is coming up. Maybe I’ll do it there. Anyone care to join me?

5) Praise those vendors who are doing it right. I have a lot of praise coming up in future posts. I’m inspired by some of the really cool plastic-free products and services I encountered this year. It seems like where plastic is concerned, more and more businesses are “getting it.”

6) Be proud of who you are! When I asked Madeleine from LunaPads to hold up the pair of organic cotton panties she had brought for me right there in the food area, she showed no hesitation.

SF Green Festival


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Michele P.
14 years ago

I have been hitting the craft fairs like a madwoman these past few weeks. I always take a reusable bag with me for my purchases I like to purchase lots of wooden crafts from recycled bits of wood, natural soaps, scents and organic shirts and goodies. I especially love the Common Ground Fair in Unity ME in the fall, so many nice things and it is one big Green fest! Those Luna pad panties look super neat too, I actually have some Luna pads and they are wonderful!

14 years ago

I bring my own food! Much easier (and healthier and cheaper) to bring my homemade goodies. :-)

14 years ago

I was going to ask if it was silly that I’m ridiculously excited about the thought of winning such cool undies…but clearly other people are too…so maybe it’s not silly. :-)

Anyway…you asked us a question too. :-) I always take my own bag, mug and utensils. I’ve been working really hard at remember to bring my own containers too…but I’m not quite there yet!

Aaron Shaw PhD
14 years ago

I love it. I can’t believe that one shopper uses that many bags in one year!

14 years ago

These look great! If I did to go to a festival, I would most definitely bring a bag full of: reusable bags, real utensils, a cloth napkin, my Klean Kanteen or mug, and a reusable container to eat yummy food out of!

Zoe V.
14 years ago

You are absolutely correct. It is whatever you make it out to be. I went to my first Green Festival in DC in October and LOVED it!!! I learned so much invaluable information and tips on green living. Not to mention all the freebies. I have plenty of reusable shopping bags now. lol

14 years ago

Oh Luna Panties!
A medium would look fabulous on my butt! (Well, they’d fit ;)) I’ll take em!

Sooo, not only for festivals, but lately all parties, pot-lucks and events, I bring one of my grocery bags (a nice cotton one from a local farm) with a set of dishes in it. I have the set washed and ready to go in one place, so it’s super easy to put together.

I made a splash a a fundraising auction this weekend, with my mason jars for wine glasses. Lot’s of people asked about it, and then looked sadly at their plastic wine cup… (Mason jars hold up really nicely! I got a pint for me, the wine drinker, and a quart for my man and his beer!) Wooo Hooo!

Condo Blues
14 years ago

Oh Beth, I’m so proud that you flashed your plastic free organic panties in public! :)

I recently went to a craft fair and brought my chico bag with me in case I made a purchase or two. I did buy a few plastic free handmade soaps. One in a cardboard box, and two others tied together with a bit of fabric for myself. We also tried some very good plastic free vegan pumpkin whoopee pies.

Please don’t enter me in the contest I have that situation covered in an environmentally friendly but TMI way.

14 years ago

I have a couple of Chico bags, one of which lives in my purse and the other in my car along with other cloth bags. I’ll whip one of those out when I’m shopping and the item(s) fit. If I end up with a bag from the store (or farmer), I’ll just have new purchases put into that bag rather than getting a separate bag with each purchase. I also have a handmade (not by me) cloth cup cozy that I bought at a coffeeshop; it’s to be used instead of the cardboard ones. Unfortunately, paper coffee cups aren’t a standard diameter so it doesn’t fit all.

14 years ago

I don’t really get to go to many festivals or craft fairs. I guess the most simlar thing would be my farmers market, where I would bring my own bags and return containers to the vendors.

14 years ago

I have tried a reusable pad I got on Etsy but have wondered if Luna (or others) make a product that fits me better so your give-away is a great way to find out (thanks!). I try to green my festival/event experiences by bringing my own: bamboo spork, stainless steel water bottle, reusable cup, and reusable bag (usually a backpack hauling all the stuff I just mentioned). If festival offerings are served in/on plastic (or, equally bad, styrofoam), I don’t take them (sometimes I’ll say why but vendors typically shrug as if the plastic wasn’t their decision. Which may be true.).

14 years ago

I love Lunapanties! I don’t know how I lived before discovering their products. When I go to local neighborhood fairs/arts fairs I bring my backpack with my water bottle all filled up, my coffee mug, and some bandannas and lunch bot. This way I don’t have to waste all that packaging just to get a yummy snack. I also bring my camera. Lots of time it’s just wanting to show someone later something cool I saw but I don’t need to buy it. Or I can take pics of the fun street performers. The items I do buy I try to buy from vendors who use minimal packaging.

Reggie the Red-Eyed Flying Vegetarian Polar Bear
14 years ago

They have a green festival in Ferndale, MI (actually a “Green Cruise,” as alternative to Dream Cruise, where people drive their souped-up and/or vintage cars up and down Woodward Avenue) – but it’s in the summer – I want to get something started in January, so Reggie the Red-Eyed Flying Vegetarian Polar Bear can make an appearance – a global warming-savvy polar bear, as opposed to “dumb bunny” Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (hey Rudolph I love you, but you’re the product of a pre-green era!)

Oh well that’s my 2 cents worth.

14 years ago

I don’t go to many festivals or fairs in general anymore (two little kids and another on the way!) but speaking of the plastic monster…I find that unless I’m grocery shopping, I usually only go to the store to pick up one or two bigger things – I often forget my reusable bags, but I’ve found that most stores are fine letting you walk out without a bag as long as you have a visible receipt. Why get a bag when you can carry it easily in your hands (with two kids, no less?)

14 years ago

i’m w/ Glenda. They won’t fit my bum :-P but great looking product

14 years ago

Hey Beth,

I speak with booth staffers about the plastic problem and tell them tyhere are alternatives.

I gather the email addresses of everyone using plastic at craft and green fairs, then email them the contacts and links to catalogues to switch to green packaging, including vegetable cellulose clear “plastic”. They can use the same machine for packaging vegetable cellulose just by turning the temperature down! I show them my glass packaging and even drop my bottles to demonstrate their durability.

FYI, here’s where you can get vegetable cellulose bags cheap:
And in smaller quantities from me: and cellulose wrap here

Plastic swag is SO irritating, though!

Here’s what I write when I place orders with producers:

Hi (supplier),

I’d really appreciate it if you could send my order without the plastic bags.
The reason is that I try to boycott plastic because of its non renewable, destructive end life.
I will pack them with their cards in a vegetable cellulose envelope.
In case you are interested in packaging ecologically, here is where I buy mine.


Blessings, Tracey

So glad you enjoyed yourself on your mission.
Frankly, I get a little grumpy at shows.

Love and RRRevolution, Tracey

14 years ago

The festival sounded fabulous! Would love to try out those Luna panties…..and the medium would fit me perfectly!!!!

14 years ago

We don’t have a local green fair here, yet. When I go to our local farmer’s market, I bring my own bags and support those who grow organically and those who make their wares with a conscious intent on a healthier body and planet.

I had forgot that I wanted to buy some Lunapads. Winning a pair would be even better!

14 years ago

I bring my own bags to craft fairs and ask them not to overwrap items in tissue paper.

14 years ago

I love those Luna panties and am headed to their site to check out their offerings!! Don’t enter me in the drawing — I don’t think the size M would fit my bum ;-).

I found your site last night by way of a post on Crunchy Chicken’s blog — spent a LONG time reading here last night, bookmarked a couple pages that have tons of info I want to refer back to, looking forward to reading some more archived posts. I am doing the “No Impact Experiment” this week (just finished reading No Impact Man’s book over the weekend and lurved it muchly) and the minimal amount of plastic you generate is quite inspiring.

Mindful Momma
14 years ago

I am loving that picture of you as the plastic bag monster!!
Wish we could get a Green Festival to come to Minneapolis. We just had a Go Green Expo and it sucked. Very low attendance and poor quality vendors.
The Luna Panties look awesome!

14 years ago

The Luna panties look so cool! I’m going to buy some even if I don’t win.
I take my stainless steel water bottle with me pretty much every, whether it be fairs, festivals or travel.

14 years ago

Oh! Those panties are very rad. Would look nice on me too ;)
We (littles & all) ride our bikes to Chicago’s Green Fest. Free parking & half price entry!

14 years ago

I have yet to go to a green festival, but at home we try our best to stay green, which is difficult in an apartment. I am a user of Luna pads, as well as the Diva cup. My partner and I use the bus as much as possible and we take bags for groceries.

Kristen E.
14 years ago

I don’t make it to many craft fairs or festivals unfortunately, but if I did I would bring my own mug and utensils for sure! I have been wanting to try Luna products for a while now. This would be a great time!

14 years ago


Love the plastic bag outfit! lol

and I want those Luna Panties!!!!