Saratoga County

5,000 learn eco-friendly ways

Sunday afternoon at the Saratoga Environmental Expo, people were reviewing ways to insulate their

Adelle Jenkins, 2, of Ballston Spa watches as her father Nate pets a green iguana held by Andy Clark of Aaron’s Roaming Reptiles at the Saratoga Environmental Expo on Sunday.
PHOTOGRAPHER:
Adelle Jenkins, 2, of Ballston Spa watches as her father Nate pets a green iguana held by Andy Clark of Aaron’s Roaming Reptiles at the Saratoga Environmental Expo on Sunday.

Sunday afternoon at the Saratoga Environmental Expo, people were reviewing ways to insulate their homes, filter their water, burn fuel more efficiently, recycle shoes, diaper their babies with natural fibers and use melted soy candles as skin softeners.

The expo brought more than 5,000 people to the Saratoga Springs City Center over the course of three days, ending Sunday with a steady stream of families ready to learn about the newest discoveries in protecting the environment. Many of the latest efforts entailed getting back to the timeworn effort of reusing, not replacing.

Mauricio Diaz has been repairing leather, vinyl, plastic and canvas items from cowboy boots to luggage to backpacks for 27 years. The name of his business, Empire Shoe Rebuilders, is almost a misnomer, since he’s able to salvage a variety of aging personal items.

“If people think twice before they throw things away, many times they’ll find they can have it restored, and my goal is to keep older items out of the garbage,” Diaz said. “People throw things away and forget about it; they’re not conscious of the impact. Purses and canvas bags are so inexpensive now, most people just go out and buy more.”

Diaz said refurbishing items saves materials, cuts down on trash, and, to boot, keeps more money in people’s wallets.

Other displays included Energy Star-rated lights and ceiling fans, recycled household paper products, ventilation systems for indoor air quality, and nontoxic paint, flooring and carpeting.

Daniele Ippoliti-DeShaw’s two sons, Jonah, 7 and Julian, 3, were leading their mother around the busy room. Jonah was wearing a paper crown and carrying a shopping bag made of recycled materials and filled with the things he picked up at tables.

“I got two stickers, a bookmark, coloring sheet and popcorn,” Jonah said.

The family is in the early stages of building an environmentally friendly “green” home in Ballston Spa, and the trio was busy picking up tips.

“We all have chemical sensitivities, so we need a home that’s cleaner, with less dirt and toxins,” Ippoliti-DeShaw said. “We didn’t get balloons here because they’re not eco-friendly. It’s always been important to us to teach the boys about the environment.”

“We have less toys in our house,” Jonah added.

Jeff Fedison, an electrical engineer and graduate of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, stopped at many booths to glean information for his own home-based business project, developing solar solutions for heating homes.

“Right now I’m monitoring sunlight and testing electric circuits,” Fedison said, who lives in Sloansville. “By next year, I hope to have a booth at this expo.”

The scent of strawberries and rose attracted people to Barbara Weaver’s booth displaying shelves of handmade soy candles. Made from 100 percent biodegradable ingredients, the candles do not give off toxic vapors, clean up with soap and water if spilled, and burn cooler than conventional paraffin-based candles.

“They’re made with vegetable oil and loaded with Vitamin E,” Weaver said. “Once they cool, you can use it as cream to condition your skin. My hands are very soft.”

Nicholas Williams, 12, sat with his mom Cathy by the Double H Ranch, a summer program for children with special needs.

“I like to play basketball and ride horses there,” Nicholas Williams said. “I ride the horses, and don’t get scared because I lean from side to side and hold on.”

The Saratoga Environmental Expo is the brainchild of Kristine Bellino of Saratoga Springs. Two years ago, while bicycling around town delivering people to destinations in her pedal-cab business, she became aware of the overwhelming fumes from vehicles.

“This is Saratoga Springs; there’s no need for all that air pollution,” Bellino said. “Last year, I organized an alternative-transportation expo that grew into this large gathering this year. So many companies wanted to be part of it.”

Bellino said she’s been criticized for allowing some of the big-box businesses to set up booths, but has a philosophy of including everyone in the crusade to preserve the environment.

“I was one of those crunchy granola vegetarians growing up, and you know, that didn’t adequately spread the word on saving the earth,” Bellino said. “We can’t fight the big companies; we need to be friends rather than foes. Let’s all work together.”

Categories: Schenectady County

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