It was only a few months ago that I wrote here glowing about the amazing products and businesses I learned about at the September 2013 DC Green Festival, but the huge expo for everything related to sustainable living is back this weekend.
This is the Green Festival‘s 10th year in DC, and from now on, the expo that bills itself as “America’s largest and longest-running sustainability and green living event” will spend its springs on the East Coast and its falls on the West Coast. Check it out here in DC on Saturday and Sunday, May 31 and June 1, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center.
Newly reorganized in partnership with European sustainability tradeshow organizer Messe Stuttgart and still in partnership with Global Exchange and Green America, the Green Festival is excited to promote its event toward a wider audience and to expand the reach of sustainable-living businesses.
With the tagline “the Ultimate Marketplace,” the Green Festival is sure to offer up great deals and opportunities to try out sustainable and natural products, as well as opportunities to get to know sponsors, like Holistic Moms Network, and other non-profit allies.
I had the opportunity to see a sampling of local vendors at a pre-festival launch party at Busboys & Poets earlier this month. It was a lively event organized by the Green Festival’s PR partner, Finn Partners. I had the chance to sample chocolate sesame spread from Soom Foods and skincare from Alexandria-based truly-life, to talk organic cotton with the folks from Fairfax-based Imagine Greenwear and to talk natural cleaners with the Karmalades folks I know from my regular Arlington farmer’s market, and to walk home with a bunch of goodies in a bag donated by festival sponsor MOMs Organic Market.
And that was in addition to enjoying a live dance performance from Step Afrika! and meeting a whole lot of amazing people who are committed to sustainable living in and around DC. I left inspired to get more involved in my children’s schools gardening efforts and to buy local whenever possible.
Attending the Green Festival with children is a great way to help them see their recycling and gardening efforts in a broader context, not to mention the opportunities to have fun with eco-friendly crafts and to sample healthy foods. For older children especially, attending a trade show like this can open them up to ideas about possible career paths and opportunities.
Bike or Metro are the ideal ways to get to the DC Convention Center on the weekend, but be warned that you might find yourself hauling home lots of loot, including free samples and perhaps a bunch of feel-good birthday and hostess gifts you might ever want to have stored for the next round of parties you and your kids get invited to. Buying at the Green Festival is a great way to know exactly where your dollars are going; often tables for small businesses are staffed by the owners themselves.
Before you go, take a look at this list of over 300 vendors and exhibitors. There are clothes, health-related business, toys, food, you name it. Nowadays everyone and their baby seems to have a metal water bottle, but it was at the 2006 Green Festival I first learned of them. Expect at this year’s event to learn about the next coolest products as well as some healthier alternatives to things you already love.
And don’t forget the learning opportunities: find out what a wide range of non-profits are doing to support environmental awareness and sustainable living at their tables, or attend any number of lectures or cooking demonstrations. Check out the DC Green Festival Schedule. Little ones will likely love many of the performances on the Team Green World Family Fun Stage, and they might like the food demos and some family yoga, but it might be wise to go with another adult to pass off the kids to when you want to listen to one of the more heady lectures. Or, better yet, go one day as a family and one day solo.
Even if you can’t make it this weekend, be sure to vote for the finalists in the festival’s Non-Profit Community Award by 5 pm May 30. The finalists are Arcadia Center for Sustainable Food & Agriculture, Capital Area Food Bank, Dreaming Out Loud, Microgreens, and the Washington Humane Society. You can also vote (by 5pm Friday) for your favorite exhibitor to win the Green Festival Brand Award, thereby entering yourself to win a gift basket of green goodies.
Tickets are available through May 30 at http://greenfestivals.org/wdc/admission: $10 for a day and $20 for the weekend (more at the door). Attendees with a receipt from MOMs Organic Market for $25 or more receive free admission. Children 18 and under get in free.
Follow the festival on Twitter @GreenFestival and use the hashtags #TheNewGreen and #GreenFest.
Portions of this article also appear on the author’s website, Mindful Healthy Life of Metro DC.
Note: I was given a press swag bag at the DC Green Festival launch party but was not otherwise compensated for this post.
Jessica Claire Haney is the founder of the Arlington/Alexandria chapter of Holistic Moms Network and the founder of Mindful Healthy Life of Metro DC, a blog, directory and calendar for natural living, holistic parenting and family wellness resources in the DC area. Her personal blog is Crunchy-Chewy Mama: Living naturally, most of the time.