Sustainable living and the Energy Fair

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The Fourth Annual Illinois Renewable Energy and Sustainable Living Fair is Aug. 13 & 14 at the Ogle County Fairgrounds near Oregon, Ill.

This year a major emphasis of the Energy Fair will be sustainable living. We asked Lin Vogl, sustainable living coordinator, what this part of the fair would include and how it relates to renewable energy.

“There’s more to renewable energy than producing power for your home and car,” said Lin. To me, part of the definition of sustainable is something that can be maintained and not have a negative impact on the surrounding community. I’m really excited about getting that information out to the people so that they don’t have to go through the entire process of searching on their own.”

There are many kinds of things that could be considered sustainable. A place to start is with items we use daily and would like to see available. Since Lin was working in the office, she immediately thought of office supplies—how could they be green? From that point it grew.

This emphasis will help people think about the many renewable resources such as soy that can be used not only for fuel but for candles and food, and commercial hemp, which can be used as a food, for household products and clothes.

More than 50 organizations will be represented in the Sustainable Living tent. Informed volunteers will be there to answer questions and help visitors. Catalogs, product samples and informational fliers on clothing, pet care, food, household products, office supplies, yard and garden supplies and many others will be available. There will be scheduled drawings, giveaways, samples and a silent auction.

In addition to the Sustainable Living tent, there will also be nearly a dozen independent Sustainable Living booths. One is an organic farmer. “Farming and gardening hit closest to home,” stated Lin, “While I’m not a farmer, I live in a farming community. Farming is significant to me because it’s important to Illinois’ communities and economy.”

Some local Rockford businesses that will be represented include Phoenix Traders with fair-trade products and Healing Scents with natural personal and household products. Brew and Grow and the recently opened Choices Market will not attend this year’s Fair, but have sent materials.

“I’ve been really pleased with everyone who’s been a contributor. I worked hard to choose whom I’d invite and had reasons for every one of them. I hope I’m not leaving anything or anyone out,” said Lin. There is still time for people who would like to display or sell their Sustainable Living products to sign up.

Equal Exchange fair-trade brand ground organic coffee including Breakfast Blend (medium); Mind, Body and Soul (medium light); Colombian (dark); and green tea will be for sale. Orders may be placed in advance through the end of Saturday, Aug. 6, by e-mailing or phoning 732-7332. The IREA and some Fair vendors do not take credit cards.

Admission to the fair is $5 per day for adults, $3 per day for youth 12-16, and free for children younger than 12 (accompanied by an adult).

Visit the IREA Web site for a complete listing:

Sustainable Living is good for the individual, the community, the state, the country and the world.

The Fair is sponsored by the Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation, the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, and Commonwealth Edison.

From the Aug. 3-9, 2005, issue

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