Despite seriously fierce competition in the form of gorgeous springtime weather, the Go Green Expo’s NYC showing this weekend managed to seduce scrums of eco-enthusiastic, reusable bag-wielding New Yorkers. 

The rather button-down traveling trade show — it’s been to LA and Philly and will descend upon MNN’s homebase of Atlanta in June — was held in the labyrinthine conference halls of a gargantuan Hilton in Midtown Manhattan. As I wandered dazed through passageways lined with vendors hawking (some aggressively) their wares, I kept on thinking that I was in some kind of warped, eco-version of the Grand Bazaar. But, of course, replace Turkish towels, spices, and gold jewelry with reusable dry cleaning bags, organic iced tea, and elephant dung stationery.

I missed out on Friday, the strictly business, non-consumer day of the event, but I’m glad I attended on Sunday when I was able to witness the general public getting their green on. Typical of most trade shows, the flashiest and loudest exhibitors at the Go Green Expo seemed draw the biggest crowds — product demos and a lot of noise always beats-out a simple card table, literature, and big smiles. And where free samples to be found, there were also hoards of people.

I’ve attended home- and design-centric expos before but this was my first generalized green one. Call me naïve, but I was pleasantly surprised by the scope of exhibitors and the throngs of consumers who seemed truly excited about learning, listening, and purchasing.

Boldface names were also a big draw. Curiously, fashion photographer Nigel Barker was there to talk about the plight of seals. Actress Mariel Hemingway was on hand to promote her new book. And two familiar names from MNN  — transportation blogger Jim Motavalli and columnist Josh Dorfman — were featured speakers over the weekend. Blue-chip companies like Home Depot, Dell, and Disney also had a presence. 

Despite there being some muck to wade through, a lot of stuff did catch my eye — I left sweaty and head-achey with a tote bag overflowing with brochures  — particularly two NYC businesses: Brooklyn’s iStore Green, “The First Green Storage Facility,” and Green Apple Cleaners, a regional mini-chain of CO2-based dry cleaners. Seltzer Goods, a recycled-content greeting card company based in Long Island City, was also a favorite. I’ve been a fan for a while now and it was great to see what’s new for the upcoming Father’s Day/Mother’s Day/graduation season.

So, enough about my experience unless you want me to rant about combative seated-massage people. Did you make it to the Go Green Expo in NYC this past weekend or to the shows in Philly and LA? What was the highlight (or low-light) for you?

Matt Hickman ( @mattyhick ) writes about design, architecture and the intersection between the natural world and the built environment.

New Yorkers expo-se themselves
Both the eco-curious and seasoned environmentalists get their green on at the Go Green Expo in Manhattan.