Green Life Expo promotes sustainability with family activities

To rejuvenate active recyclers and lend support to the inexperienced, Athens-Clarke County Recycling Division and The Classic Center presented the fifth-annual Green Life Expo.

It’s not always easy being green.

Sometimes recycling can be confusing and even laborious. Dead batteries accumulate, scratched CD’s create clutter and old holiday cards collect dust.

To rejuvenate active recyclers and lend support to the inexperienced, the Athens-Clarke County (ACC) Recycling Division and The Classic Center presented the fifth-annual Green Life Expo this past weekend.

The goal is to create awareness and share ideas with attendees on how to lead a sustainable lifestyle, said Suki Janssen, waste reduction administrator within the ACC Recycling Division.

This year the Expo focused on transportation. The event kicked off on Friday, Feb. 7 with lunch and a screening of Revenge of the Electric Car.

On Saturday a crew stood outside The Classic Center and containers were placed inside to collect various recyclable items, including bulbs, Styrofoam blocks, batteries, car fluids, old holiday cards and broken Christmas tree lights.

But the Expo is more than a recycling drop-off site. The full day event offered educational sessions, family activities and nearly 50 booths managed by local organizations.

Playful kids ran in and out of a giant blue earth balloon in the center of the room as their parents monitored nearby. Families and individuals wandered from booth to booth, some gripping new tree seedlings. Others got dirty with composting in the educational sessions, or constructed bird houses and herb boxes from old UGA building materials.

Keep Oconee County Beautiful Commission (KOCBC) joined the Expo this year as an exhibitor. The organization chatted with Oconee residents and took advantage of the educational sessions.

Angela Helwig, executive director of KOCBC, took a break from their booth to watch a cooking demonstration led by Craig Page, executive director of the non-profit Promoting Local Agriculture and Cultural Experiences (PLACE).

Page shared simple cooking techniques while making Kale “Ceaser” Salad and Portobello-Kale Stroganoff with local, seasonal produce. He encouraged the audience to buy and support local food, which is fresher, more nutritious and helps support the local economy. 

“Craig did a great job demonstrating some cooking techniques I don’t currently use,” said Helwig, who loves to cook. “He also made a point to talk about composting and using local produce as environmentally friendly ways to cook.”

Recycling is often the gateway into a green lifestyle, Janssen said, but she believes the community is ready to expand upon recycling.

“We need to make sure we are educating people on how to reduce waste and lead a sustainable lifestyle, and that’s why we have started infusing other topics like composting and using local food,” Janssen said.

More than one thousand people stopped by the Expo on Saturday, including first-time attendee and Athens resident Isabelit Green.

 “I’m trying to change into thinking more about it,” said Green, who also enjoyed Page’s local food demonstration.

Attendees can get personalized, one-on-one time to learn more about sustainable opportunities, Janssen said. The event also allows those with common interests to gather and learn from each other.

“Sustainability isn’t just about recycling; it’s about all aspects of your life,” said Janssen.

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