Kermit was wrong: It is easy being green these days, with all the eco-friendly products and services on the market. The proof was on view at the inaugural Go Green Expo Jan. 23-25 at the Los Angeles Convention Center, where companies offering everything from biodiesel, wind and solar power to office supplies, food, clothing and alternative-power vehicles displayed their wares, and experts and celebrities addressed pressing eco-issues in lively panel discussions.
Environmentalist actor Ed Begley Jr. advocated for electric cars, public transportation and solar energy — he's adding more solar panels to his roof as a result of enlarging his garage-turned-Pilates studio — and offered ideas for apartment dwellers who can't implement such changes. "Join or start a community garden, ride a bike, get energy-efficient lighting and appliances," he suggested, noting that he has CFL bulbs in every light fixture in his home, some burning since 1992. He hopes President Obama will prioritize green initiatives like subsidies for solar and wind power and taxation on carbon emissions and implement a home energy assessment policy.
Peter Fonda and Mariel Hemingway joined director Josh Tickell for a Q&A following a Friday screening of Tickell's Sundance Film Festival award-winning documentary Fuel, about the global sociopolitical implications of our dependence on petrochemicals and the sustainable power alternatives (wind, solar, biodiesel, algae) that could save the planet. "These things have been around for years. It's not so much that we need a technological breakthrough. We need a breakthrough in how we look at these issues," Tickell said. "The reason we have not moved toward sustainable fuel sources is we have not shifted the way business works with government. But I believe we have a president who sees the need for that change, and we're responsible for supporting that."
While Fuel still doesn't have a distributor, it will open Feb. 6 at the Loews Village in New York and Feb. 13 at the Loews Broadway and Laemmle's Sunset in Los Angeles for a week, which will be extended if it does well. Tickell hopes to get it to Obama — Fonda and Hemingway vowed to help with that — and cut a shorter version to make available free to schools. Visit www.thefuelfilm.com for more information on the movie.
On Saturday, Hemingway returned to promote her book Healthy Living from the Inside Out, and gave a keynote speech about the interconnectivity of food, body, home and planet, and about improving life through more conscious behavior. "Green stuff is good, but we don't need to buy so many things," she said, advocating slowing down and looking within for satisfaction. "Recycling, clean solar energy, CFL light bulbs — these things are easy to do, but the more important thing is how am I showing up? How do I feel? Am I connected?"
Hemingway, who shops at farmers markets for locally grown produce and buys free-range, ethically raised meat, has a book coming out in May called Mariel's Kitchen Cookbook, based on local, seasonal ingredients.
After speaking on the transportation panel, actress Alexandra Paul, who drives a RAV4 EV, proudly noted that she's been driving electric cars since 1990, when she "decided not to give the oil companies any more of my money." She also recycles, composts, puts a bucket in her shower to collect water, and believes in "less consumption — we buy old things and fix things." Married but childless by choice, she believes overpopulation "is the number one environmental issue."
Paul will be on view in four films this year, among them an upcoming Lifetime TV "woman in peril" original called A Sister's Secret.
Event sponsor Perf Go Green, maker of biodegradable trash bags, threw a party inside its recyclable plastic Earth Dome, where musical group Mass Ensemble performed and Perf founder Tony Tracy announced, "It's our responsibility to leave the world better for our kids."
Perf gave attendees free samples as did other vendors of everything from organic teas to bamboo toilet paper, organic skin care products from Duchess Marden, recycled-material pens from Star Office Supplies, Glee chewing gum, and Skoy absorbent pads, an ultra-absorbent, biodegradable wood-pulp alternative to paper towels.
Alas, no one was giving away the shiny red Tesla roadster, one of several electric cars and bikes on display at the expo. The plug-in sports car gets 220 miles to a three-hour charge, and there's a yearlong waiting list despite its $109,000 price tag. A slightly less costly Mercedes-like sedan is in the works, as is an economy model for around $30,000.