This weekend (June 5 – 7), DC Convention Center is hosting the Green Festival Expo!!! The festival is jam-packed with sustainability and green living booths as well as a speaker series. I had the pleasure of attending the festival yesterday afternoon, thanks to the fact that my DCPS Supervisor, Ms. Sally Parker, is presenting on Sunday! I would highly recommend this event to anyone looking to learn more about sustainability initiatives. And let’s not forget about the free food samples and swag.
One of the first items I sampled was Fire Cider—a funky, tangy mix of raw apple cider vinegar, onions, ginger, habanero pepper, garlic, and oranges (among other things). If you’re looking for a drink with a kick to it (sans alcohol), then this one is a winner. The spice travels right to your nose, making you scrunch in that woops-that-was-a-pepper kind of way. The man at the booth said Fire Cider is a great way to wake up your senses and feel energized.
Another booth I visited sold vegan Vietnamese cuisine. I’ve been a huge fan of the Loving Hut restaurant for a few years now. The vegan chicken sautéed in lemongrass (Lemongrass Cutlet) as well as the Pho Vietnamese Noodle Soup are my two favorites. If you’re a foodie looking for delicious and relatively cheap food, look no further than the Loving Hut.
Other things I picked up at the expo:
- a free bag of sweet potato chips
- Smarty Pants vitamins
- quinoa snacks
- a Buddha pants bag and beanie (the bag was free)
In addition to food, there were booths for green home items such as bamboo mattresses, bamboo pillows, solar-powered fans, green windows, hand-woven harem pants—the list goes on and on. A small jewelry booth caught my attention because the wooden necklaces were adorable and the tiny spoons were cute. Each item was tagged with a WAORANI tribe label, and the description on the tag was written entirely in Spanish. Hmmm. Where did these products come from? I walked toward the man in charge of the booth. He sported a formidable beard and had his hair pulled back into a ponytail. I got a sort of tree-loving, friendly traveler vibe as he described the backstory of the products. He told me that each item was hand-crafted out of wood that was supposed to be discarded. The women of the Waorani tribe (located in the Ecuadorian Amazon) sew, assemble, and craft bracelets, notebooks, purses, and kitchen utensils entirely from scrap wood, leaves, thin yarn, and recycled paper. I’ve always admired DIY projects, so I continued to ask about the Waorani story. Turns out, the Waorani are constantly threatened by oil companies that want to supplant the Waorani members to extract oil. To maintain their homes and fend off the oil companies, the Waorani are selling their handiwork as a source of income.
A cheeseboard!!! I love cheese!!!
Guachito journals, necklaces, and bracelets
Before I left, I snapped a few photos and told the man in charge that I wanted to share about his booth through my W&M blog. And his response was: “No way! I graduated from William & Mary!” And then I blurted “Really? What year?” To which he responded: “0-8, Class of ’08” And then we quickly introduced ourselves and compared student IDs. His name is Andon. Biology and Environmental Science double major. Currently the Director of Operations and Founder at New Forest Earth, a for-profit organization whose mission statement reads: “the mission of New Forest Earth is to empower people to preserve and restore their forests through sustainable community development.” The idea is to use forest products sustainably to promote forest conservation while providing needed funds to artisans of South American descent. Andon plans on devoting his career to New Forest Earth and I really hope that the organization continues to do such great work. Go Andon!
Having met a good number of W&M alumni over the last three weeks, I was again reminded of how small our world is. And seeing all the ways people are tackling the goal of a greener planet was pretty neat.