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Natural Awakenings Chicago

A Chat with Dr. Corinna Basler: President of Green Festival

Sep 25, 2014 04:40PM

For the past 13 years, Green Festival, held in major cities across the country, has been committed to helping people in America find solutions to make our families and communities healthier; socially, economically and environmentally. Chicagoans have been enthusiastic in their continuing participation because they know that talk is cheap, and solutions have to start somewhere. The big news—this year’s Green festival is the first to be held for three whole days.

What is Green Festival?

Green Festival (GreenFestivals.org/chi) is America’s largest and longest-running sustainability and green living event. We are in five cities across the country—New York, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, Chicago and San Francisco. At each event, we showcase the best and latest green products and services, where people can shop, taste and discover new and easy ways to live more sustainably.

How can this event help people live a greener lifestyle?

Green Festival offers people hundreds of ways to integrate green into their lives with more than 200 exhibitors per show, from food products, cleaning supplies, body care items and clothing to toys for kids, gardening tools, building supplies and transportation. It is like a walk through a sustainable marketplace and community, where it is easy, practical and economical to be green. Through our workshops and talks, we help people to understand the issues and their ability to make a difference through their everyday choices.

What is new at Green Festival this year?

In the new, expanded three-day format, we are dedicating the first day to B2B programming geared toward retailers, wholesale buyers and businesses. Green Festival has also started the Green Festival Award series and Green Festival-Saves-Lives Campaign. We want to celebrate and support companies and community organizations who are transforming the way we live with innovative, environmentally conscious solutions and recognize the consumers who support them. The Green Festival-Saves-Lives Campaign supports the adoption of homeless pets onsite at our events. This is all part of our new partnership with Messe Stuttgart, Europe’s leading show organizer for sustainability events, and our efforts to make a bigger impact. 

What can people expect to find at the Green Festival?

Green Festival has something for everyone. It is more than a consumer show or a trade show. There is a community and educational element to it, as well. There is something for families in our kid zone with special educational activities for children. Foodies will find healthy eating and vegetarian cooking demos, the latest trends on eating for a sustainable lifestyle, a wine and beer garden and hundreds of organic, artisanal, non-GMO, vegan/vegetarian food products to taste and buy.

We also have a home and gardening section and fashion and transportation. We have a great lineup of speakers because most of us don’t realize the impact our daily actions have on the global state of the environment.

What makes Green Festival different?

At Green Festival, it is everything under one roof. We have a huge selection of exhibitors and workshops and speaker panels. We strive to be a zero-waste marketplace where consumers can be assured that exhibitors are committed to environmental sustainability. We encourage companies to adopt green and fair trade principles and we support vegan-vegetarian diet alternatives, as an all vegan-vegetarian show. We want people to know there are options out there that they might not have considered before.

Another thing which makes us unique is that each show is almost entirely operated by volunteers. More and more, we are becoming a launch pad for corporate social responsibility efforts and sustainability initiatives, which is so important because small changes can make a significant impact, and we have companies of all sizes joining Green Festival, which is really exciting.

What is the biggest idea that people should take away from Green Festival?

I would like people to walk away realizing that they can make a difference, and that their everyday actions and choices do matter. Recently, a study came out saying that if meat consumption continues at current rates, greenhouse gas emissions will increase 80 percent in the next few years. I want to people to feel empowered knowing that by reducing their meat consumption, they can help to combat climate change. They can start with one meatless meal and go from there. But at Green Festival, at least they can discover food options that are easy, economical and healthy and taste good, too!


Green Festival Chicago is coming Oct. 24-26 at Navy Pier, in Chicago. For more information, a complete schedule, exhibitor list and tickets, visit GreenFestivals.org/chi. For a chance to win free tickets, visit NAChicagoNorth.com/CHI/Contests.