Festival offers lessons on how to be ‘green’

Often words like “going green,” “sustainability” and “environmental” are tossed around so much they lose meaning. Working to preserve the veracity of those sentiments was the “Go Green Festival,” which took place in Wilton Center Sunday, May 5.

The festival was started in 2009 by members of the Wilton Energy Commission to, in the words of co-chairman Debbie Hunsberger, “educate people on the ways to bring sustainability to various parts of their lives.” In the festival, there were dozens of different businesses, nonprofits, and community action groups dedicated to actions that are meant to go green. One could visit them, with steel drum music in the background.

Many people were excited such a festival could exist in such a small town. “I’ve done this a lot,” said Tessa Markena, 14, a festival volunteer, “and I think it’s cool that there is so much going on related to the environment.

Environmentalism seemed to have many different faces. Several car dealers were displaying their new electric and hybrid-powered vehicles. Matthew Apal and Declan Crocker, two Bruce Bennet Nissan salesmen, claimed, “It’s the future, and the present,” when referring to the two Nissan Leafs parked at the festival. The Leaf is the electric car Nissan introduced in 2010. Also on display was a Chevrolet Volt, GM’s plug-in hybrid, which was being showcased by Karen and George Geller, ages 69 and 74, who grew up in an era when energy shortages or climate change were not news items.

“Before the oil crisis, I never thought gasoline would run out,” said Mr. Geller. Indeed, many of the people who sponsored events grew up in an era when Go Green festivals and environmental consciousness were unheard of.

Kevin Greene, 60, of Easy Care Energy Solutions, which helps people save on energy costs, also grew up not thinking how industry could harm the environment.

“There were no festivals like this,” Mr. Greene said. “We weren’t as environmentally conscious.”

Kevin Bell, 57, a Wilton High School teacher and supervisor of the school’s recycling club, also talked about the lack of environmental study in his childhood, but observed that “since the first Earth Day in 1971, people have learned a lot, and it has evolved into something wonderful.”

Most people agreed the festival was about education and “awareness,” said Beth Myer.

One of the last things to be seen before leaving the festival was Earth Adventure, a giant inflatable model of the Earth that showed the planet as it can be seen from space, the Pacific Ocean taking up an entire view while Connecticut is no bigger than a quarter.