Spreading the Word, Not the Waste

green-show-2009-march-011This past weekend we had the opportunity to attend and exhibit our cloth diapers at the Seattle Green Festival. The event was huge, and it presented an equally huge possibility for the massive amount of waste that often accompanies major shows and events. Just think: 20,000-30,000 people, driving from points far and near, all streaming through one space, eating and drinking all day and hoping for deals, freebies and information at every turn of an aisle.

For the organizations and retailers that exhibit at such fairs, it’s tempting to bombard this huge, captive audience with as much information about our cause, product or brand as we can — you want to stand out from the next guy and make your mark. But this is the GREEN festival, and for us – a company with the mission of making parenting more green – some of the traditional festival approaches just aren’t worth the additional resources, pollution and impact on our climate.

And looking at some of the choices we and other booths made, I don’t think what we left out was missed one bit.

  • Instead of handing out large brochures, printed double-sided with lots of color ink on typical card stock, we opted to simply hand out our regular, wallet-sized business cards, printed on 100% recycled stock with soy ink – more affordable, and 1/6 of the size as a brochure. We filled the back with the top three reasons to cloth diaper, and the cards doubled as contact info and advocacy. Trees saved, message disseminated.
  • Instead of handing out a stack of flyers explaining how and why to cloth diaper, what’s new at Punkernoodle Baby, and how to sign up for our next Green Diaper Choices class, we asked interested attendees to sign up for our enewsletter – saving more paper and using technology to connect our community of parents.
  • We brought only a handful of recycled paper bags and did not make a habit of asking shoppers whether they wanted one. We expected people to bring their own reusable bags, and they delivered – only two or three of dozens and dozens of shoppers needed a bag. We should all strive for the day that bringing a bag with you is the norm rather than the “cool, green” thing to do!
  • We set up a breastfeeding station inside our booth. It took up precious retail space, but for us (and for the handful of others who had the same idea), it was worth it. I knew it would be when, the morning of set-up, I went into the convention center bathroom and saw the metal chair posted conspicuously next to the plastic baby changing table. Who wants to eat in the bathroom??? What does this have to do with being green? Anytime we as a community can support breastfeeding mothers, we are making a huge green statement. Nursing a child as long as they want and need reduces an incredible amount of waste and energy — no power or gas to warm up milk, no production or transportation or refrigeration of cow milk, no water or energy to clean bottles, and no fossil fuels and resource demand to produce bottles. Breast milk is a true, perfect, green food! Double thanks to La Leche League Seattle, who had a booth and distributed wonderful placards with the International Breastfeeding Symbol so we could tell everyone that nursing was welcome.
  • Though we couldn’t carpool to the event, because we had to transport our diapers, our guests and friends who helped us out did. One took the city bus. And we contributed to the festival fund that allowed our booth to be considered “carbon neutral” – a small fee that helped us walk the walk, not just talk it.

We had a blast, and enjoyed meeting every person who came by our booth. We hope to see some of you again soon, and we will strive to be even greener when we head back to the Seattle Green Festival next year. Cheers!

– Natalie and Lukas

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