More than 350 environmentally friendly companies and organizations gathered in the Washington Convention Center this weekend for D.C.’s third annual Green Festival.
The event was organized by two nonprofit organizations, Global Exchange and Co-op America. Co-op America is a group with the goal of expanding the green economy, and Global Exchange is an organization that fights the use of sweatshops. Originating in San Francisco six years ago, the festival eventually expanded to D.C. and Chicago.
Alix Davidson, Green Festival regional director, said D.C. is a logical addition to the Green Festival beyond its role in national politics.
“(D.C. has a) large progressive community, which usually gets overshadowed by the nation’s capital,” Davidson said. “D.C. is a place that would be meaningful even if (the president) weren’t sitting four blocks away.”
The festival’s exhibitors and speakers addressed issues such as sustainable economy, ecological balance and social justice.
“(It’s) a celebration of what’s working in our community, living well and doing good,” Davidson said.
The exhibitors included everything from American Apparel to Habitat for Humanity to Pax, a socially responsible investment company. Exhibitors distributed product samples, information and talked about how their organization was working to better the world.
Organizations like the Vegetarian Society of D.C. have been present at the D.C. leg of the festival since its inception.
“D.C. is one of the top vegetarian friendly cities in the U.S., according to PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals),” said David Cohen, a board member in the Society. He also said that the festival has remained consistently strong and successful over the years.
Amanda Chawansky, who was at the festival representing Perfect Organics – an organic body care line – said the green movement is becoming more prominent due in part to the increasing global need to make environmental changes. While some companies have been doing this all along, many have recently joined in.
“It’s important to give respect to the people who have always been green, but now there’s this new generation adding contemporary values into that,” Chawansky said.
One of the newer groups was a North Dakota-based company called Ellie Pooh that creates paper and paper crafts from elephant dung. The company’s founder Karl Wald, who holds a Ph.D. in biochemistry, started it a year and a half ago while working with elephants in Sri Lanka.
“We fit right in here and the people have been responding well to our products,” he said, adding that he will attend the event again next year.
John Hoffman, a Green Festival volunteer and Alexandria, Va., resident went to the festival to learn more about the organic industry and the environment. Hoffman, who is originally from Iowa, wants to use his acquired knowledge to move to a farm in the country and find a woman to be his agrarian wife.
“At an event like this, there’s a higher percentage chance of finding a woman who wants to live in a rural environment,” Hoffman said.
Maryland resident Maridale Jackson said she was surprised by the festival’s crowd, which included many families with children.
“They don’t all look like tree-huggers.”