Like Alice’s Restaurant, the Eco Gift Fest at the Santa Monica Civic December 12-14 was a place to get anything you wanted – as long as it was sustainable, earth-friendly, and high-consciousness.
9,800 people attended and tried vegan food, purchased clothing made from organic fibers, listened to acoustic world music, bought seeds and other equipment to plant sustainable gardens, and heard lectures by speakers from earth-friendly organizations.
It was sitting-on-the-floor-room-only for guest speaker Ariana Huffington, who commented on the current economic climate: “The thought that is coming to me is that a crisis is a terrible thing to waste.” Speaking to the theme “Fearless About Changing The World,” she noted that change begins with the individual. “We have to begin with ourselves because if we don’t, everything falls apart.” She advised people to move beyond their personal voices of doubt, to accept that failure is part of success, and that it’s self-defeating to hold a grudge.
Michael Brune of RAN (Rainforest Action Network) talked about the confrontational actions taken by RAN to get through to corporations that needed to change their policies on resource usage. Thanks to actions by RAN (in one case, simply a letter), companies like Kinko’s and Home Depot have stopped using products from endangered rainforests. Brune asked the audience about their relative degree of optimism about environmental improvements. Most were fairly optimistic.
“I’m skeptical in my head, but optimistic in my heart,” said Brune. He noted that the barriers are not technical and that the important thing is for people to keep pushing politicians as well as corporations to take action.
Some notable products at Eco Gift Fest included:
Earth Friends Dolls by Deborah Kettner (theEarthFriends.com). Based in Mendocino, California, Kettner makes her dolls from natural and recycled materials. “Each doll has an ‘earth-friendly activity’ in its backpack – like tree planting, with instructions for kids and their families. Each doll represents a different character and there’s a diversity of skin colors.” Kettner’s dolls are also available at Whole Foods Markets.
Star Eco Station (ecostation.org). This center in Culver City educates children about animal rescue and helps to save fish and wildlife that have been introduced to the wrong environment by accidental or illegal means, such as smuggling. Star Eco Station also has regular events for children, such as Halloween and birthday parties.
Rabbit Kinney (rabbitkinney.com). Jean Kim’s new store in Venice sells an organic eco-friendly line of clothing for woman and children. The mascot is a cartoon character, Rabbit Kinney, the subject of a coloring book made from recycled materials. “I came up with the idea as a way of helping children to understand sustainability,” explains Kim. She wants to take it further with other characters, and possibly an animated cartoon show. Rabbit Kinney is also sponsoring a crayon recycling project.
Stephanie Wolf Designs (stephaniewolf.com) features jewelry made from recycled glass and sterling silver. The silver is reclaimed from melted down old jewelry and from film developing and other industrial processes, while the glass is from construction scrap, bottles, window panes, reworked into glass beads. Earrings range in price from $12 to $35, necklaces start at $30, rings at $30.
Hugo Naturals (hugonaturals.com) sells body products, lotions, cremes, soap, sachets, sweet-smelling and natural. Seeing the hands of your trusty Mirror reporter, Hugo Saavedra suggested an orange-vanilla hand crème that smelled like a creamsicle but was made from much better natural ingredients.
As if all the products and speakers weren’t enough, both Friday Saturday evenings saw a really special guest drop by – Jackson Browne, who played with musician Tom Freund.
Watch for more event announcements at ecogift.com.