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Going Green, Going Strong

by Jo Freeman

Green Festival, the nations largest green expo for consumers, recently held an expo in the Washington, DC Convention Center. 350 businesses pitched products and services aimed at making both people and planet healthier.

A major theme of this years show was 'fair trade', an elusive concept which essentially means paying more for products from developing countries so that the original producers can earn more and live better. Beyond this bare essential are additional attributes such as preserving natural resources, the creation of cooperatives, the ethical treatment of workers and equal pay for equal work.

In addition to hourly lectures on various aspects of Fair Trade, several business sold their wares with the Fair Trade stamp of approval. They included:

Divine Chocolate is co-owned by the Kuapa Kokoo Farmers Cooperative in Ghana. Ghana is the second largest exporter of cocoa in the world. Most of the cocoa is grown by small-scale family farmers on 4-5 acres of land. In the 1990s farmers organized to protect themselves from unscrupulous buyers. In 1997 they created their own company Divine Chocolate. After selling its products in the United Kingdom for ten years, Divine Chocolate is expanding its operations into the US. You can buy its tasty tidbits on line or find a store where they are stocked.

Choice Organic Teas became the first tea crafter in the United States to offer Fair Trade Certified tea in 2000. Grown in China, India, Japan, Sri Lanka, and Tanzania, they offer a wide variety of tastes, guaranteed grown without synthetic chemicals.

Eco-Green Living sells all sorts of organic and fair-trade products including building products to turn your home into an economical green residence, beds and bedding, jewelry and clothing.

The impact of the current economic downturn could be seen in some empty booths but most of those business who came said they hadnt really been hit by it yet.

The Blue Ridge Eco Shop said they had noticed one shift: people were buying more organic underwear and less clothing. They also sell a wide variety of products recycled into new incarnations. Some vendors saved money by doubling up.

Rich Earth was sharing a booth with Eco-Green Living. It offers bottles of liquefied minerals containing over 70 trace minerals which can be put into your body or your garden. They are composted from prehistoric plant matter thats over 75 million years old.

Nadinas Cremes shared a small corner of a booth with Save Your World. The former sells cremes, made from natural products, put into handmade ceramic jars made by the developmentally challenged. How politically correct can a business get?

Save Your World uses its profits to lease rainforest from the government of Guyana and keep it pristine and unlogged. "Buy More, Save More" is its slogan. It claims that every product bought equals one acre of rainforest saved for one year. What does it sell? Pure, natural essential oils.

There are many ways to be socially responsible besides promoting fair trade and ecologically correct products.http://store.saveyourworld.com/

Paper to Pearls sells jewelry, made from beads that are hand rolled from cut strips of colorful magazine paper, glued and varnished. They are manufactured by women in refugee camps of Northern Uganda. The surrounding conflict has made it impossible to farm. The income from the sale of the necklaces helps them buy food, medicine, and school supplies for their children.

Xeko is a game, starring the planets endangered species. You can save them, while having fun.

Then theres Gen Green Life whose slogan is "Sustainable living made local" Enter your zip code into the search field and a list of green businesses appears for your area.

There are Green Festivals throughout the year in five cities: San Francisco, Washington, DC, Seattle, Denver and Chicago. Go to www.greenfestivals.org and find the next one near you.

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