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Fair Teaches Visitors to Help the Environment

The annual Going Green Matters brought 1,000 attendees to Wilmette.

March 11’s Going Green Matters 2012, sponsored by the and Go Green Wilmette, was a huge success! With more than 1,000 attendees (a few from as far away as Madison), including 150 exhibitors and 150 volunteers, it was the biggest and the best yet of Wilmette’s yearly environmental fairs. From the time the doors opened until the fair closed, it was busy with people asking questions of the exhibitors, exploring new ideas and resolving to adopt behaviors to improve the environment.

It was a beautiful, spring-like day, and the crowds outside the enjoyed displays of green cars and bikes. Alice Joseph, a librarian from the , read environmental and nature-themed books to children on the sunny steps. People rode up on bikes and filled the bike rack.

Earlier: 

Inside were exhibits of every kind: beautiful nature photography, water quality displays, new lighting options, gardening advice, invasive species identification, green landscaping, ways to control flood waters naturally, climate change data, composting techniques, food quality issues and much more. Artisanal Wilmette, a new food store opening in June in Linden Square, introduced themselves, their organic vision and their wonderful products to fair attendees. A raw food demonstration downstairs showed attendees how to massage kale with mineral salt and put together a tasty salad. Food and drinks were available in the Go Green Cafe, and people raved about the delicious sliders from in Glencoe, pizza from , and snacks from local supermarkets. Village organizations including the Village Board, Environmental Commission, Park District, the Library and schools were well-represented by their top staff.

Just outside the Green Café, visitors found The Pledge Tree, where they could write a pledge to make a positive, earth-friendly change in their lives. The pledges were written on colorful paper leaves and then pinned to a beautiful tree designed by Wilmette artist, Debra Favre. The pledges included eco-friendly promises to ride a bike more, turn off the faucet when brushing teeth, use drying racks or lines for clothes, follow Meatless Monday, eat organic, use re-usable bags, walk more, drive less and many more. The Pledge Tree will be displayed at for Earth Day 2012 in April.

A plastic bag monster -- actually, a New Trier student -- wandered around reminding everyone to use reusable bags, not plastic. Students from New Trier and Regina Dominican High Schools paraded by in fashions made out of recycled materials from SWANCC. The always popular raffle featured prizes that included a brand new Fiskars push mower donated by , a rain barrel, gardening baskets and gift certificates from local merchants.

Another highlight of the fair was the brand new Eco-Zone, with interactive exhibits of many kinds including eco-myth busters, data on the downside of using plastic, facts on how much water is required to produce everyday products, bird identification, techniques for building bluebird houses and better electronics use. New Trier students displayed their IGGS environmental high school projects and engaged attendees in conversations about the downside to GMO corn, banning plastic grocery bags, starting an organic garden at New Trier and the benefits of backyard chickens in Wilmette. The students were a very positive, interesting new addition to the Fair. Many of them told Beth Drucker, president of Go Green Wilmette, and other fair organizers how much they enjoyed the interactions and indicated their plans to participate in Going Green Matters 2013.

One of the other popular features was the annual collection of electronics, used batteries and more. A huge truckload of many tons of electronic waste and a garage full of Styrofoam were sustainably recycled rather than finding their way into landfills. A special thank you goes out to the enthusiastic, courteous Boy Scouts in Troop 5 and other volunteers who assisted in this project.

This event is made possible each year by the generous contributions of our sponsors and donors and the efforts of more than 150 volunteers.

Did you attend Going Green Matters? Share your thoughts on the event in the comments section.

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