The business of being ecologically minded will be front and centre at the upcoming Eco-Economy Expo in Charlottetown.
This first-for-Prince Edward Island event, being held at Murphy’s Community Centre on Saturday, Jan. 12, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., will be a family-friendly, trade show environment with vendors and exhibitors that have an interest in promoting sustainable living and environmental awareness.
“It’s also going to be very family friendly, so we’re going to have games and crafts for the kids because the idea is to get the whole family out. We have some food vendors as well,” says Jessica Brown, who is one of the six students in the environmental studies program at UPEI organizing this event, along with environmental studies director Carolyn Peach Brown.
The students collectively put their heads together and developed the
concept for the Eco-Economy Expo, which provides a venue for individuals, organizations and businesses to promote their products, services, innovations or lifestyle choices to an ideal target audience.
“(For example) we have Ben Waterman on P.E.I. who created a straw bale house, so we have individuals who have implemented practices into their own lives who are coming to help other individuals who are interested,” says environmental studies student Michael Wasnidge.
“And then we’ve got companies like Maritime Rideshare that provide transportation alternatives. So it’s pretty broad.”
Another exhibitor is Birdmouse, which is a company in Souris that uses salvaged materials to create new and unique items.
“It’s a husband and wife (team) and they take furniture that is outdated or that nobody wants anymore and they upcycle it into new, more exciting furniture,” Brown says.
Fr. Stephen and Tracey Allen, who have built a passive solar house on the Covehead Road, will also be there.
“She wrote a book about it so (she and her husband) are going to come. They have a slideshow of the process of building the house, why they did it and everything,” Brown says.
“It’s interesting to see people really dedicating their lives to trying to live sustainably and reducing their environmental footprint and sharing their ideas so that other people can do the same.”
Doug Deacon, who is the sustainable economic development co-ordinator for Stratford, will be highlighting the town’s rain
barrel program and the importance of conserving water.
“I will be talking about our water conservation program which has five initiatives. We have been organizing tree planting in the well field; we are still giving rain barrels to residents and encouraging more people to participate — we have more than 400 out there but would like to achieve distribution of 1,000; we are launching a new showerhead exchange program this winter and we continue to monitor the 50 water meters that we gave away in the spring of 2012 to households in the community. We are also working on a toilet exchange program that we plan on introducing this summer,” Deacon says.
Through this particular display people can learn about actions that they can take at home to reduce the cost of water supply to the community as a whole.
“For instance, our new town well field represents a $2-million investment. With a price tag like that we don’t want to have to bring another well field on stream for many years to come,” he adds.
“Residents of Stratford will have to learn about and support many more town-wide initiatives like this to reduce water use and in turn, reduce capital costs to the ratepayers now and in the future.”
UPEI student Charles Sanderson says the idea behind the environmental studies course is also to establish a university presence in the community.
“So it’s a community development type of thing too. We’re looking to get all of these likeminded people together networking with other businesses and customers,” he adds.
Wasnidge says the goal was that the Eco-Economy Expo would appeal to Islanders overall.
“And we think that this mode where we bring in businesses from the Island lends itself well to a community experience,” he says.
“It’s really an opportunity for companies to market themselves and individuals to share ideas and organizations to spread their message.”