Overheard at GreenFest: What we learned interacting with attendees and exhibitors
Montgomery County GreenFest organizers invited everyone to “Explore, Learn and Enjoy” with a fun-filled schedule of events that kept a crowd of more than 800 festival goers busy as a hive of pollinating bees.
The 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. festival took place throughout the park with activities both indoors and outdoors. Rainstorms and brisk winds didn’t stop those visiting Bohrer Park in Gaithersburg from enjoying the educational event for all ages.
“My kids were having so much fun they almost forgot they were actually learning,” Stephanie, a Gaithersburg resident and mother of three, said.
Exploring and learning
The exhibitor and vendor booths outlined the park’s paths and gave everyone an opportunity to participate in demonstrations, including WSSC’s water preservation and pipeline/wastewater protection “No Wipes in the Pipes.”
The result of flushing wipes down the toilet? Landfills full of them, which can be very harmful ecosystems, since wipes decompose much more slowly than toilet paper.
“I had fun learning about keeping the rivers clean for the fish and not to spill oil in it,” Sophia, 4, said about the maze where she got to pretend she was a fish finding a clear path in which to swim.
The adventure continued with a peak at Camden Apartments at Shady Grove, a new community seeking LEED certification that offers a bike storage and repair area, share station, electric car-charging stations, reserved spaces for low-emission and fuel-efficient vehicles and nearby walking trails.
Business sustainability was also on display, with Chef Tony’s of Bethesda owner Tony Marciante making dishes and discussing the importance of buying local, recycling and corporate responsibility.
In addition to buying local, Chef Tony’s is a part of the Oyster Recovery Program. Last year, they contributed 750 bushels of oyster shells to the program, which recycles the shells back by returning them to the ocean.
“My philosophy is that if every business did as much as they could, it would help the overall sphere of the world,” he said.
Driving Green Change
As part of a commitment to achieving energy efficiency, Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett announced that the County has purchased 16 new Chevrolet Bolts – an electric vehicle that can get more than 200 miles on a single charge. The vehicles cost just over $622,250 and will be used by the Department of General Services and other agencies.
“I am committed to modernizing this government while lowering our carbon footprint,” Leggett said. “I want to modernize the buildings, equipment, vehicles, and other resources available to the men and women who serve this county every day.”
While visiting the automobile exhibit area, County Executive Leggett, Montgomery County Director of The Department of Environmental Protection Lisa Feldt and Montgomery County Council President Roger Berliner, a Prius owner, got a sneak peek at the new Toyota Prius Prime. The Prime is a hybrid plug-in and can be driven by all electric power for 25 miles at a maximum speed of 84 MPH.
“No County official ever drives 84 miles an hour!” Berliner joked.
Enjoying the day
Although a little wet, the GreenFest attendees seemed to enjoy learning about new things and reflecting on how to make Montgomery County an even greener place to live.
One exhibit challenged the children to write about their green goals on a dry erase board. The answers included the slightly wobbly handwriting of a grade-school student about riding a bicycle more, to the reply from a more seasoned GreenFest goer telling the world about the goal of making the backyard a habitat.
“There are very few communities that have developed the kind of programs we have,” Leggett said. “We are a national award-winning county for our environmental efforts. It’s just in our DNA.”
Written by the creative team of Kimberly Hodges, Antoinette Charles-Aqui and Felicia Hodges. They work together to cover a variety of environmental, community and public service events throughout the Capital region.