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Sunday, June 12, 2011

Levitt Pavilion Grounds Green Up for EcoFest

Levitt Pavilion Grounds Green Up for EcoFest:
Third annual event continues to build in scope
By Mike Lauterborn
(for Westport News)

Fairfield, CT – There was a fine mist, chilly temperatures, lots of teens and lots of green… green initiatives, that is.

Despite the gray, rainy weather, the third annual EcoFest, firmly rooted on the grounds of the Levitt Pavilion, went ahead Saturday afternoon as planned. The event attracted throngs of environmentally conscious people who enjoyed live music, food, scores of exhibits and raffles. The fest was sponsored by Westport’s Green Village Initiative (GVI) and Staples High School’s Club Green.

“The goal of EcoFest is to get the word out about environmentally friendly businesses around town and raise awareness about the service work that the Club does,” said Nicole Brill, co-president of Club Green.

“The first year was successful, but only had a handful of vendors,” added Ben Meyers, Brill’s counterpart. “Last year, we climbed to 35 vendors. This year, we have 55 vendors as well as 14 performers, all local talent.”

The pair noted that this year’s theme is “Think Clean Go Green”, and is about your home and what you can do personally to make positive environmental change.

“EcoFest was originally targeted to the high school crowd, but it has really attracted a wide audience,” said Meyers. “It has become a great event.”

One popular vendor onsite was Whole Foods Market. The representative there, Lavinia Hurd, was sampling Steaz tea but also promoting a recycling initiative called Gimme 5. “Customers can bring into the store their #5 recyclables, which we then provide to Preserve, a company that repurposes them into plates and toothbrushes. It’s a way for customers to make a difference.”

Nearby, the Backyard Beekeepers Association was abuzz with information about its pursuit. “We’re a group of about 400 beekeepers, mostly in Fairfield County, guaranteeing through our hobby fruitful flowers and vegetables while generating premium honey,” said board member Gabriele Kallenborn. “It’s about local sustainability.”

At lead sponsor GVI’s table, Deirdre Price was busy educating the public about the group’s initiatives, which include putting edible gardens in schools in Bridgeport, seeking to establish an urban farm in the same area and starting GVIs in surrounding towns. “By establishing a network, we create strength to drive environmental legislation in Hartford,” she said.

Across the grounds was Mimi Auer of Brighter Concepts of CT, distributors of an innovative daylighting system called Solatube. “The equipment captures daylight on your roof, transfers it through a tube in the attic and delivers it into a dark space in your home,” she said. “The tubes are lined with a reflective material called Spectralight, which transfers light through the conduit. There are no negative by-products in the process.”

Proving that being green doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice style, Janet Foster of Westport-based Eco-Chic spoke about her business, which she runs with co-founder Kim Reiter. “We are a luxury green gift box company,” she said. “All our materials are natural and organic, including items for beauty and bath, baby and home. The price point for our gift sets is $60 to $140. I was sick of gift baskets with the cellophane wrap. It’s extra garbage and obscures the view of the product. Our boxes are custom-made and reusable.”

Taking it all in was Westporter Elaine Daignault, sitting with daughter Mia, 8, and Mia’s friend Abby Fleming, 9. “I wanted to support GVI and Club Green and teach the girls about how to preserve the environment,” she said, pausing to add, “and rock out to the music!”

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