BRICK – After two years, the Brick Township Green fair made its return to spread the word on sustainability and environmental advocacy.
Over 500 visitors enjoyed the 10th Green Fair at the Bob Anstett Cultural Arts Center located on Herbertsville Road. The event featured several presentations and vendors as well as some new exhibitions.
Keith Rella, administration staff of Sustainable Brick, has been coordinating the past six Green Fairs and said the event shows how the community can change for the better.
“I’d like to think of it as a sustainability showcase because it is about more than just environmental issues and initiatives. We’ve come to look at sustainability as really what could make a community more sustainable and when you think about that, it’s more than just the environment. It’s about the business community. So, we invite local businesses and crafters and makers and vendors to participate. It’s also about some of those other resources that are located in the community. We invite some of the nonprofits that serve the community in a capacity other than an environmental capacity because they play a part in making Brick Township a more sustainable community,” Rella said.
About 50 local businesses and nonprofits participated in this year’s Green Fair to promote sustainability and reduced consumption. Some environmental groups included were Clean Ocean Action, Surf Rider Foundation and Barnegat Bay Partnership.
In addition, some organizations like Kiwanis Club were there as well as township groups like BMAC and the Friends of the Brick Library
“It’s a really cool and diverse cross section of groups that are environmentally focused and also focused on making Brick Township and the region better and more sustainable and providing resources to the people,” Rella said. “The event is hosted by our Green Team, Sustainable Brick Township Committee, Environmental Commission, as well as the Tourism Commission being the main sponsors along with the Recreation Department.”
Rella additionally said the event has really grown thanks to the involvement of Brick Township schools.
“We have seven schools on hand with students displaying information and exhibits. They really help grow the event and stay focused on what it’s really all about,” Rella said.
Students and staff of the Sustainable Energy Club at Veterans Memorial Middle School demonstrated the use of a rain barrel to help maintain their garden. Brick Memorial High School science teacher Ben Schaible showed off urban farming with their aquaponics and hydroponics program.
This year, the two major factors of the Green Fair was the discussion of the plastic bag ban and the use of electric cars.
“With the recent ban of plastic bags, the Township gave away reusable bags this year. Taking it to the next level, plastic in general is bad. You only have to participate in one clean up with COA or Pick Up Brick and you look at things like plastic water bottles, plastic straws and plastic utensils; you look at them differently. You use these things once and then they’re potentially in the environment for thousands of years. So, in addition, we gave away reusable water bottles, stainless steel straws and bamboo utensil sets,” Rella said.
“It’s about leaving the event not just with information but with something substantive that makes them hopefully change their behavior. Listen, plastic is part of our lifestyle. We’re not at a point where we can entirely cut free of it. I do feel that when folks leave an event like this with something in their hands it does help to change the behaviors that lead to having plastic as a convenient, problematic option,” Rella added.
Since the Green Fair was held outdoors, a new feature that was added was offering attendees the opportunity to test drive electric cars.
“One of the highlights of this year’s event is we’re partnering with the DEP and their drive green initiative and one of their partners Plug in America which is a nonprofit that advocates for the use of electric vehicles,” Rella said. “We’re very excited for this opportunity and we’re appreciative to those partners, the DEP and Plug in America for allowing us the opportunity to offer that. I think a lot of folks are interested in electric cars and considering them or thinking more about them.”
Rella explained how the Green Fair has impacted Brick Township and has become a staple to the community.
“It’s exciting that it’s the 10th Green Fair. It’s been a little disjointed the past years but the fact that we’re holding it despite everything we’ve gone through in the last few years is a testament to how much the event means to us as a municipality,” Rella said. “In many ways the Brick Green Fair is a standard barrier for this kind of event in this area. It means a lot to us; it means a lot to the mayor that we have this event but also I can say I’ve come to realize how much it means to the people that attend it and to our vendors and exhibitors as well. They really enjoy it and look forward to participating in it every year.”