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Saturday, April 30, 2011

Earth Day Event Provides One-Stop Environmental Education

Earth Day Event Provides One-Stop Environmental Education:
Over 90 exhibitors serve up facts, 
flyers and fun
(Posted to 4/30)
By Mike Lauterborn
© 2011. All Rights Reserved.

Fairfield, CT – All it takes is acting on one good tip to start making a positive difference in the world around you. At this event, there were more tips than you could shake a repurposed juice pack at.

Fairfield Warde High School at 755 Melville Avenue was the host site Saturday of Fairfield’s Earth Day Celebration, a pro-environmental event chiefly sponsored by Maritime Motors that offered over 90 exhibitors showing everything from energy services to recycled crafts. Tables were set up in front of the school, the main corridor and the main courtyard. Musical entertainment was also featured and town officials were on hand to welcome visitors.

“Mike Zembruski and Ed Bowman of the Public Works Dept. started the event in 2000,” said event co-chair Larry Kaley, speaking about the event’s origins. “It was modest, with a couple of vendors, and held at Town Hall. In 2002, I got involved and brought in schools. Osborne Hill Elementary was the first school site. It was a miserable day that year with rain coming down sideways. Then we were at McKinley a few years before realizing parking was insufficient. Ultimately, we ended up at Warde.”

Kaley said the goal of the event has always been to educate people about opportunities to take actions that would be helpful in an environmental sense, in the areas of energy, gardening, health, food and more. “The public can learn an awful lot in one location,” he said.

Veridian Energy had a corner post in the courtyard area, manned by Mary Saunders, an associate. “With the deregulation of energy, people have a choice to pick a third party supplier like Veridian,” she said. “We are the only true green choice, coming from local wind and solar farms, which also helps the local economy.”

In the middle of the courtyard, Krissy Dorn yipped about her Do-Goodies dog treats. “These are organic vegan treats, inspired by the book ‘Eating Animals’”, she said. “They are made in Fairfield, reducing the dependency on factory farming. A local supply is key, and even our packaging is compostable to minimize environmental impact.”

Down the way from Dorn, Lisa Gnandt, a manager at GreenCycle, was scooping up handfuls of dirt. “GreenCycle supplies high-quality mulch, topsoil and compost,” she said. “We run the town’s yard waste recycling. All the source material brought in is re-used, keeping that debris out of the waste stream and resulting in a highly rich organic product.”

Around the bend was Ahna Johnson, from the Center for Green Building. “The Center sells environmentally friendly homebuilding materials including items like paints with low volatile organic compounds, insulation made from 100% recycled denim jeans and home cleaning supplies made with all-natural ingredients.”

Adults were not the only one in on the green scene. Marina Chrysadakis, 6, offered a variety of Fantastic Earth Crafts. “I’m all about keeping the world clean by re-using stuff,” she said. “I take juice packs and turn them into wallets, egg carton cups into flowers and books into birdhouses.”

Sixteen-year-old Nick Anagnost, with his Boy Scouts Troop 88, was selling Square Foot Gardens, essentially a 4’x4’ grid made from wood slats and a fabric base in which a soil mix is placed. “It allows people to grow their own gardens, in a small space,” he said. “And buying through us allows the Scouts to continue to do good works in the community.”

Late morning, First Selectman Ken Flatto took the mic to express his hope that “in a number of years we’ll be able to say we’ve made a big impact in climate and health. You’re all at the forefront of this movement to help this community.”

Among attendees, Camy Deck, of Fairfield, said, “I’ve been going to Earth Day events since college and have now got the kids involved. I believe in supporting the environment in any way we can. I love my boys to see the ideas out there and how they can affect their own creativity.”

Fire Commissioner Felix Giannini, in an unofficial capacity visiting the event, said, “I’m here to support my friend Larry Kaley and am all about the environment. We all need to work towards making our environment a safer and better place to live for future generations.”