The large green living expo and speaker fest that is the Green Festival, which returned to the DC Convention Center this past weekend, can be counted on to showcase important national green giants and local leaders like Amicus Green Building Center and MOM’s Organic Market, one of the partners of the event.

But this year, I also got to chat with several people who were just launching their businesses, including the dairy-free, gluten-free, soy-free buckwheat pudding by Maryland-based Shiny Spoons and things like biodegradable vegan deodorant by DC-based Evolve Skin. Green Festival Shiny Spoons Buckwheat pudding

I also picked up a copy of My Mom Stands on Her Head, the newest book out from Solar Publishing by Baltimore-based author and mom of two Robyn Ringgold, whose My Mom Hugs Trees I bought many years ago at another Green Festival before I attended a reading of My Mom Eats Tofu, which is a wonderful celebration of intentional eating whether you like soy or not! mmsohh_150

The Green Festival is a two-day event in a huge convention hall with tons of vendors, oodles of speakers, and class after class of yoga and movement. In addition to all the free samples you can enjoy — as my daughter did of Daiya dairy-free cheese on rice crackers; raw, organic and gluten-free Mira’s Homemade Granola made in Pennsylvania; Raw Indulgence snack bars (including the literally green spirulina kind, which gave her a ghoulishly glowing goatee) — local vendors also sold food and juices. You could get a whole young coconut from H Street’s Khepra’s Raw Food Juice Bar  and drink its juice through the world’s longest straw.

Green Festival Kherpa coconut

Even if you think you are familiar with eco-friendly living and healthy eating, it’s still easy to find a lot of new knowledge crammed into your head after spending some time at the Green Festival. On the other hand, if you’re new to the eco scene and just learning about eliminating toxins in your immediate world, the Green Festival offers the equivalent of a whole semester’s worth of Green Living 101 over the course of its two days (or really concurrently on multiple stages).

On Saturday alone, Momme Meals founder Kristen Bocanegra gave a talk on seasonal no-cook meals, and later that day holistic health coach Beth Donnelly gave a juicing demo right after Meredith Sheperd of gardening company Love & Carrots taught about how to make the most out of small gardens. If I didn’t have to rush home for my son’s soccer game on Saturday or to get my daughter to rest on Sunday, I might have actually made it to some talks of these talks by local gems or the bigger ones with national authors. Maybe when the kids are teenagers I will actually sit down for a talk or go to one of the yoga classes by myself.

Green Festival Green Kids ZoneGreen Festival yoga

If you’ve never been to the Green Festival, it’s worth going one day solo and taking the kids another, preferably on the day you are less interested in some of the speeches and demos. I love the opportunity for children to see group yoga and to have the chance to learn about eco-friendly living, if they’re older. But it can also be overwhelming on the senses, what with the super high ceilings and thousands of people and such. My three-year-old had some moments of imploring “I want to go home” but mostly toddled along happily from one snack post to the Green Kids Zone and back again. My more sensitive son tends to get overwhelmed at events like this, so he stayed back with his dad and in the fresh air. However, if it rains next year, I’ll take him early and let him try out the super cool rock climbing wall, if it comes back.

If you’re planning to attend the Green Festival in the future, take the advice I offered in my post last year: Go in with an open mind, an empty bag, and a credit card to pick up wonderful deals on clothing, skin care, craft items and more. It’s a great place to buy holiday gifts and to stock up on unique and sustainable hostess and birthday gifts. And it’s all the motivation you need to make some changes in your living and eating that will see you through until next year. If you can’t wait that long,

Jessica Claire Haney is always on the lookout for new ways to be healthy and green. She blogs at Crunchy-Chewy Mama: living naturally, most of the time. She is founder and one of the co-leaders of the Arlington/Alexandria chapter of Holistic Moms Network and is starting a new resource for DC-area family resource guide for holistic health and eco-friendly activities at DC Healthy Green Families. She received nothing for free to write this post except for samples open to anyone and for admission to the Green Festival upon showing her over-$25 MOMs grocery receipt.