Photo Credit: Michael Ostuni
Sustainable living experts, green business entrepreneurs and new, environmentally-friendly products and services brought together thousands of New Yorkers at this year’s Green Festival®Expo, the largest and longest-running sustainability and green living event in the United States. “With everything happening with climate change and environmental protection, New Yorkers came out in full force to support the green community and our collaboration with the Plant-Powered Run,” said Dr. Corinna Basler, President of the Green Festivals Inc. “We were very pleased with the turn out along with our new sponsors and partners GoMacro, TYKU Sake, VegFund, Kia, Vegan Smart, COCO-MAT, Sundance Vacations, Wyndham Hotels & Resorts, Rodale’s Organic Life, and Petcurean,” she added. The Expo took place over the weekend at the Jacob Javits Convention Center filling the main hall with more than 200 exhibitors, sponsors and partners and thousands of products representing a wide range of new and trending sustainable choices available to consumers. “GoMacro is thrilled to be partnering with Green Festivals,” said Cameron Faist, Director of Marketing at Go Macro, “Our certified organic, gluten-free, vegan, non-GMO line of nutrition bars could not be more aligned with the Green Festival Expo and its mission to promote a healthy, sustainable lifestyle.” Popular categories at the New York City Expo included organic, non-GMO, gluten and dairy-free food, natural and organic body care, health and nutrition, eco-fashion, green kids, sustainable home and garden, alternative transportation, green building and smart energy. Through a partnership with Carbon Credit Capital, Green Festival was able to offset a total of 22.35 metric tonnes of carbon emissions for the show through exhibitors and attendee participation. In addition, all weekend long attendees were able to test drive Kia’s EcoDynamics line of vehicles outside of the Javits Center, a rare opportunity for New Yorkers who are interested in alternative transportation. “Kia is dedicated to reducing emissions and improving fuel economy through a range of stylish and affordable electrified vehicles that help people reduce their carbon footprint and live a healthier lifestyle,” said Saad Chehab, Vice President of Marketing Communications, Kia Motors America. “The Green Festival Expo in New York is an ideal setting for consumers to test drive the award-winning vehicles from Kia’s growing EcoDynamics lineup, including the record-setting all-new Niro hybrid crossover, the beautifully styled Optima Hybrid midsize sedan, and the all-electric Soul EV.” The program line-up featured pioneering thinkers in the sustainability and green living sector, including Amy Goodman, Host, and Executive Producer, Democracy Now!; Marianne Schnall, Co-Founder of the What Will It Take Movement and Author of What Will It Take to Make a Woman President?: Conversations About Women, Leadership and Power; Gene Baur, President and Co-Founder of Farm Sanctuary; and Ricky Kej, Grammy® Award Winner, Peace Ambassador, and US Billboard #1 Artist. In addition, the Green Festival Expo screened films aimed at raising awareness around critical green issues, including SEED: The Untold Story, Vegucated, and The Story We Want. Green Festival Expo also announced the winners of its Green Festival Brand Award, Community Award, and the Green Dream Award, who were unveiled during a special award ceremony on Sunday. Since it was founded in 2002, Green Festival has worked to help strengthen the efforts of green businesses and communities. Green Festival established the Green Festival Brand and Community Awards in order to recognize leading innovators in sustainable business and local nonprofit organizations whose products, services and programs are helping to transform communities and the planet. The Green Festival Brand Award winner for New York was BGG (By God’s Grace) Knits. BGG Knits produces hand-knit and hand-spun knits into versatile knitwear that is people and planet friendly. “It’s been a bumpy road getting BGG Knits off the ground, but the scripture saying ‘never cease to do good’ has been our motivation to continue despite the obstacles we faced from conception to execution,” said Cess Oliva, Co-owner of BGG Knits. “This award, and the recognition we received from fellow social entrepreneurs that our business model is not only inspiring but competitive has humbled us and re-invigorated us on this journey to love people, love planet and love God,” added Jen Garay, Owner and founder of BGG Knits. BGG Knits was selected as the winner by the Green Festival Brand Award judging committee, which included Reed Shapiro, Director of Business Development at Carbon Credit Capital, Joy Nemerson, Strategic Partnerships Manager, Zero Waste Box™ TerraCycle, Inc.; and Abigail Steinberg, Author of Recipe for Success: An Insider’s Guide to Bringing Your Natural Food to Market. The other finalists in the Brand Award category included:
- Woods and Whimsy, LLC, which placed 2nd, a “Happy” natural body care product line which includes the popular Happy Pits vegan deodorant.
- Ornaments4Orphans, which placed 3rd, brings luxury fair trade ornaments, jewelry and accessories from East Africa – many made from recycled, natural materials.
- Twin Pines at Dover Hill, a brand inspired by the motto “living naturally, by design” and produces textiles ethically sourced from sustainable fibers and materials.
- Belle and Bella, a brand dedicated to probiotic formulas, including home-yogurt making.
The Green Festival Community Awardthe winner was The Hell’s Kitchen Farm Project (HKFP), an urban rooftop farm in Hell’s Kitchen, managed and run by volunteers. HKFP is the outgrowth of community discussions concerning nutritional security, especially scarcity of affordable fresh produce, in Hell’s Kitchen. As winners of The Green Festival Community Award, they will invest their $3,000 grant in hiring an education consultant and 10 youth interns to help introduce even more high school students to the roof. “Many thanks to the Green Festival community for this award. As HKFP continues to address food security issues in our community, this award will help us grow more food on our rooftop farm, engage more community members and provide unique food justice opportunities to more high school students in our 2017 Youth Farm Intern program,” said Tiffany Triplett Henkel, Hell’s Kitchen Farm Project Executive Director. The Green Festival Community Award Judges who selected the finalists included Fran Teplitz, Executive Co-Director of Business, Investing, and Policy with Green America, Maggie Sargent, Board of Directors at The Humane Party, and Camille Licate, Founder of Kids for Positive Change. The winner was selected by public vote, conducted online and on-site during the expo weekend. The other local nonprofit finalists included:
- Surfrider Foundation NYC Chapter, which placed 2nd, creates environmental youth programs – the New York City chapter helps transform Rockaway youth into Coastal Defenders.
- Peace Boat US, which placed 3rd, is an NGO that promotes sustainable development, peace education and respect for the environment through peace voyages. Peace Boat US aims to create a sustainable future for all.
- Earth Celebrations, an organization dedicated to effecting ecological and social change through the arts, and has applied creative strategies to develop a climate resiliency plan for the Lower East Side of Manhattan.
- PS 9 Teunis G. Bergen Elementary School, a public elementary school in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn, which is dedicated to challenging minds, building character, and creating community.
Pay It Forward Labs’ Expert DOJO program sponsored the Green Dream Award at this year’s Green Festival. They received over 100 submissions for green business ideas or inventions interested in receiving $5,000 worth of services from Expert DOJO. Expert DOJO is the largest entrepreneur training academy in California providing their services throughout the nation. They will take the winner of the Green Dream competition and help that company launch their life-changing dream. The expertise the winner will receive includes website design, legal advice, professional business coaching, marketing strategy and a complimentary admission to their entrepreneur training academy. The 2017 winner of the Green Dream Award is Buddha Booth, which provides a variety of portable private escapes for peace, quiet and the rejuvenation of mind, body, and spirit amid the chaos of daily life. Another tradition for Green Festival Expo is the Green Festival-Saves-Lives Campaign, which was conducted with local partner Humane Society of New York. Green Festival attendees had the opportunity to save lives by adopting homeless pets onsite. The Humane Society of New York received multiple applications and also procured new volunteers and substantial donations from generous Green Festival attendees. Green Festival New York sponsors include GoMacro, Kia, Vegan Smart, COCO-MAT, TYKU Sake, Rodale’s Organic Life, VegFund, Petcurean, and Sundance Vacations & Wyndham Hotels & Resorts. Additionally, Green Festival’s national and local partners are Green America, Global Exchange, Organic Spa Magazine, Innovation & Tech Today, The Organic & Non-GMO Report, Experience Life Magazine, Conscious Company Media, Up Out, Happy Cow, The Epoch Times, The Humane Party, Vegan Health & Fitness Magazine, Expert DOJO, Carbon Credit Capital, World Food Travel Association, World Progress Now, Women’s Radio, Eluxe Magazine, Collective Eye Films/SEED: The Untold Story, SF Green Film Festival, TerraCycle, Plant-Powered Run/ Farm Sanctuary, Kids for Positive Change, Modo Yoga, Food Ingredient and Health Research Institute, Earth Rights Institute, Vegan Publishers, Earth Day Initiative, Yealands Winery, Clifton Dry, Vegetarian Resource Group, Coalition for Healthy School Food, Natural Awakenings NYC, NY Daily News and the Human Society of New York. In addition, Green Festivals will take place in Los Angeles (September 23-24), San Francisco (November 11-12) and Ft. Lauderdale (December 2-3).