Community comes together to learn about environmentally friendly living


Jennifer Ball/The Daily Northwestern

The Green Living Festival offered Evanston residents a variety of environmentally conscious products, services and ideas Saturday. City arborist Mark Younger delivered the keynote speech.

Jennifer Ball, Reporter

The seventh annual Evanston Green Living Festival gave environmentally conscious organizations a platform to showcase their products, services and ideas Saturday.

“It was started seven years ago as a way for residents to try and decrease their carbon footprint,” said Claire Alden, the event’s co-chair.

(Green Living Festival doubles in participants over five years)

About 1,000 people attended the festival at the Evanston Ecology Center, 2024 N. McCormick Blvd, Alden said. The event featured more than 70 booths and was sponsored by the city, the Evanston Environmental Association and other businesses and organizations.

The festival was themed “Preserving and Protecting the Urban Forest.” Paul D’Agostino, assistant director of public works for parks and forestry, and city arborist Mark Younger were keynote speakers for the event. Communities with a healthy tree population receive substantial benefits including better air quality, more outdoor activity and economic prosperity, Younger said.

The event featured a forestry walk exhibit to educate people about the insect called the emerald ash borer, which is essentially “choking” Evanston’s ash trees, D’Agostino said.

“Evanston as a community was known for its trees, and we’ve lost so many,” said Marcia Ellis, a member of the Evanston Environmental Association.

The loss of city trees began with Dutch Elm Disease attacking the elm trees, and the city replaced the elms with ash trees, she said.

Then the emerald ash borer began attacking the ash trees, Ellis said.

(Tree Summit held as Evanston fights emerald ash borer)

“We’re going through this process of trying to achieve a reforestation of Evanston,” she said.

The city developed a fund to replace trees infested with the emerald ash borers but is now looking to plant more diverse trees. However, residents who lost trees on their street may have a replacement tree that is significantly smaller.

Activities for children and free bicycle rickshaw rides were also offered at the festival. The Evanston Office of Sustainability handed out out recycling guides, light bulbs and bike maps to those in attendance.

Evanston resident Mike Moran was on a bike ride with his family when they decided to stop by the event.

“We didn’t know about all the handouts,” he said. “The kids are really excited about it.”

Attendees were encouraged to walk, ride their bicycles or take public transportation to the festival.

The booths ranged from green products and services to the debut of Tiny House, an environmentally friendly building made by former and current Northwestern students.

“It’s a growing movement,” said William Fan (McCormick ’11), one of the students who created Tiny House. “In Evanston, they want to increase the awareness of environmental programs.”

Ellen Frier, a festival volunteer and former employee of the ecology center, said the event aimed to show how easy it is to start living an environmentally conscious life.

“It is important for the community to know about the many opportunities for decreasing your carbon footprint,” Frier said. “There are little things you can do and choices you can make.”

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