A wedding gown and all of the other clothes modeled at the Eco-Fashion Stage in Washington recently were made from recycled materials. Designer Cherry Kwunyeun also showcased handbags and women's accessories.
"Fabric that may have been a sarong or a skirt, we reuse and make it into a handbag, something that is more marketable, a little more updated and fashionable," she says. "That's just kind of how we do it."
At the Urban Farming Pavilion, gardening expert Pablo Elliott demonstrated how polyester fabric can easily be used to protect plants from frost. Both Kwunyeun and Elliott took part in the seventh annual Green Festival, an environmental sustainability event which offered practical solutions for everyday living.
"We have about 200 speakers, about 300 green economy exhibits to show the public that the green economy already exists," said Kevin Danaher, one of the festival's founders. "What we encourage people to do is learn a new fact that you didn't know before, find out about a new company or a new organization that you didn't know about before."
Organizers said more than 30,000 people attended the festival at the Washington Convention Center to find out about ecologically friendly products, new technologies and sustainable living.
Visitor Moe Cunningham wanted fresh ideas for a home improvement project. "We have always been interested in helping the environment and doing what we can to make things more efficient at home, so things like better insulation."
Exhibitor Kenneth Thacker with NOVA Spray Foam Insulation offered a possible solution.
"This one would be called Heatlok Soy," said Thacker. "It has about 20 percent of its petrochemicals taken away and replaced with soybean oil. With the spray polyurethane foam insulation, we save energy bills up to 50 percent."
One entrepreneur displayed an eco-friendly invention called Hydros, a water bottle with a built-in filter.
"It is a perfect substitute for bottled water, which is as you know very damaging to the environment and costly," said Aakash Mathur, adding that each Hydros filter eliminates the need for 200 disposable water bottles.
Visitor Punam Shah liked the idea. "I think people are usually overwhelmed by being told they have to change. And I don't think they realize how small little steps can make a huge difference."
Shah believes that if everyone commited to changing one or two things a year, it could go a long way toward helping to save the planet.