By Katherine Poythress | SDUN Reporter
Cloudy weather was not enough to keep thousands of San Diegans from attending EarthFair on Sunday, April 22.
This was the 23rd year for the annual Earth Day event, which attracts approximately 60,000 visitors to Balboa Park. Sponsored by San Diego EarthWorks, a coalition of local environmental organizations, the festival had costumed participants, animals, food and information booths. Those booths, while entertaining, served an educational purpose.
More than 300 exhibitors, representing everything from waste management companies and political candidates to jewelry boutiques, were on hand to answer questions and educate visitors.
Some visitors said they came for different lessons in going green.
Lawrence Scott held up a sign offering ‘free hugs and hi-fives’ because, he said, “I just want to remind people about getting back to our roots as one earth family.”
Rosie Bystrak said she learned jewelry could be made from things that typically get thrown away, like ice cream taster spoons and napkins. She also learned she might qualify for a rebate from the San Diego County Water Authority if she installs water-efficient toilets in her house.
Dino Gougoulas said he had brought his children to EarthFair several times before and always picks up new tips. “I think it’s just a great event, because it shows both kids and adults the importance of the earth, and of being conscious of how we live every day,” he said.
One of the ways to live green daily is to properly recycle, and volunteers at the Zero Waste stations across Balboa Park helped guide visitors on how to sort garbage, while volunteers circulated through the park offering to valet park bicycles.
High school student Aqui Sanchez oversaw the Zero Waste station near the Cabrillo Bridge. “Most people are confused about what falls into which category for recycling,” Sanchez said. “We already recycle at my house, but from this I’ve been learning what items fell into each recycling category and how important it is to separate all of them.”
Vendors offered tips on how to live green throughout the year, ranging from “precycling” and composting, to installing more efficient toilets and windows.
“To be sustainable throughout the year, you have to look at everything you do and buy,” said John Vorgeas, director of market development at EDCO Waste Disposal.
Vorgeas said he suggests what he calls “precycling.” Before he makes a purchase, Vorgeas said he considers how recyclable the product and its packaging are. He said that 90 percent of waste purchased by the average consumer could be recycled.
The non-profit environmental organization I Love a Clean San Diego maintains a database of the county’s recycling and hazardous waste facilities at WasteFreeSD.org for those unsure of what can be recycled.
Additionally, families can reduce their need for electrical power by installing features like double-paned windows in their homes, said Will Johnson, owner of Inspection Perfection, a home energy auditing company. Going greener in the home also means saving money on utility bills, he said.
U.S. Green Chamber Chair Peter Zahn said most people seem to be catching on to greener practices for themselves and their families, but that it is time for businesses to increase their sustainable practices as well.
“Any individual can support businesses that are committed to environmental sustainability,” he said. Zahn also said he suggested employees work to make their businesses more sustainable, but to also consider how feasible it is for the company. “As an employee, if you have the opportunity to influence policies, perhaps you can do that from within,” he said, “but our premise is that whatever these businesses do needs to make sense for the business too, or else they won’t make these changes.”
How to be green all year:
• Precycle by buying only products that can be recycled
• Reuse plastic and grocery bags
• Adopt a beach, highway or park
• Start an organic garden
• Install doubled-paned windows
• Install water-efficient toilets
• Use less water
• Support businesses engaged in green practices