Mayor's Green Fair spotlights zero-waste efforts and energy-saving tips
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Main Street was not the gridlock of cars you might expect it to be from 6 to 9 p.m. on a Friday. Instead, energy-efficient appliances, eight-seat bikes and a solar powered concert filled the street for the 13th annual Mayor’s Green Fair.
More than 100 exhibits displaying environmental information ranging from "green" transportation to energy saving techniques lined the street.
“Ann Arbor has such an environmental ethos and this event really resonates with the citizens,” City Transportation Program Manager Eli Cooper said. “That’s why we get thousands of people walking around and learning about how to be more environmentally-friendly.”
A new addition to the fair this year was Arbor Brewing Company’s zero-waste beer garden, where the restaurant teamed up with the city to produce an exhibit that would not send trash to the landfills. The booth had a live band and beverages served in compostable cups.
“This is our first Green Fair experience and we’re really excited about it,” Arbor Brewing Company general manager Casey Hyde said. “Everything here is compostable or recyclable. We wanted to do our part and show people how easy it can be to be environmentally friendly and produce less waste.”
Also new this year was a refurbished railcar for people to tour. The railcar, which is proposed for the Ann Arbor-to-Detroit commuter rail service, was toured by more than 150 people within the fair's first hour.
“People love it,” said Alex Bourgeau , transportation coordinator for Southeast Michigan Council of Governments . “At least the people that have been here seem to like it a great deal. We wanted to be able to show people what’s going to be available for them.”
Ann Arbor resident Diana Bowman said she specifically came to the fair to tour the railcar.
“With the two decks it reminds me of the metra in Chicago,” Bowman said. “It’s exactly what I was expecting and it looks like they’ve done a good job.”
Several local businesses set up shop to show off products and services helpful in reducing energy use as well. Arbor Insulation explained their ‘fresh start’ program and how proper insulation can reduce energy use by about 30 percent.
“It’s a great way to reduce energy use, especially in Ann Arbor,” said general manager Rob Patterson. “So many houses were built in the early 20th century with little to no insulation. We’re a local company and we’re at the fair to get the word out and help people save energy.”
People and organizations in charge of the booths used demonstrations, product explanations and hands-on activities to teach people how to be more environmentally friendly.
DTE Energy informed citizens of the benefits of LED light bulbs and Energy Star rated appliances. They also explained their rebate incentives available to those who purchase Energy Star rated appliances and handed out mini lightbulb keychains to encourage energy saving.
“We just like to get out and talk to the customers,” said Todd Bondy, a residential lighting and appliance representative with DTE. “We want them to know we’re here for them and provide information on saving energy.”
Aside from vendors and booths lining the street, energy efficient cars we also in attendance for people to tour, including a hybrid bus.
Cooper said it is clear Ann Arbor citizens enjoy the fair for both the information provided as well as the atmosphere.
“It’s a celebration of life and it gives the citizens a chance to be in a car-free environment, walk around and enjoy Main Street and this beautiful weather,” Cooper said.
Chelsea Hoedl is an intern reporter for AnnArbor.com. She can be reached at email@example.com.