Rain just part of celebrating nature

KINGSTON — The early morning rain may have affected attendance levels this year at EcoFest, but as one organizer said, things weren’t too bad once the sun finally showed up in the early afternoon.

“I’m seeing sunny blue skies,” said Stillwaters volunteer Sheila Sullivan. “I’m starting to dry out.”

Despite the fact that only 400 or so people showed up, while 600 attended last year’s much drier event, everyone still had a good time —  they just had to watch where they stepped so not to end up in ankle-deep puddles.

While visitors were partaking in the children’s activities and the Wildlife in the Watershed parade, watching the entertainment and stuffing themselves with crepes, they were also doing what EcoFest organizers had hoped — taking advantage of the abundant information available on how to live a more environmentally-friendly life.

“I think that’s the biggest draw,” Sullivan said about why people attend the annual Earth Day event.

One of the new booths this year was Stillwaters’ “Green House,” where people could learn about home products that were environmentally-safe. One popular item was a 100 percent biodegradable compost bag made of cornstarch, vegetable oil and other renewable resources. North Kitsap Solid Waste Advisory committee representative Kinley Deller said they are great to use for transporting kitchen scraps to a backyard compost pile — just tie the bag after filling it and throw it onto the rotting heap.

Another unique kitchen item was the natural wax paper, said Stillwaters volunteer Jana Lien.

“(It’s) the only kind of wax paper that doesn’t burn or catch fire in the microwave,” Lien said she had been told by one faithful user of the kitchen tool.

And instead of dealing with the standard fiberglass-filled insulation for the home, residents can use denim. Scraps from denim factories are used to create the dense but thin and minimally-messy house warmer.

For outside uses, the booth provided an alternative way to pour a new driveway — instead of using solid concrete, use a special type of pervious concrete made up of what looks like tiny cobblestones.

“It filters through rather than pours off the driveway,” Lien said.

EcoFest organizers were also proud to recognize a local citizen, business and volunteer for their efforts in helping the environment — after the center itself was recently recognized for its own eco-friendly efforts.

Stillwaters earned Kitsap County’s Outstanding Achievement in Sustainability Award April 11 as part of the agency’s Earth Day awards. The county recognized the nonprofit for its push to involve volunteers to provide restoration efforts, plant native vegetation, conduct trail construction and organize EcoFest. The organization also offers a course on sustainable living, providing information on how residents can contribute to the economy without adversely affecting the environment or its resources.

“I thought it was really cool,” said Stillwaters administrative director Naomi Maasberg. “We thought it was a really big honor.”

Stemming from that, the Stillwaters Board of Directors decided to unleash their own Earth Day awards this year.

The Margaret Mead Committed Citizens Award went to Karen Ross of the Kingston Revitalization Association for her work to motivate citizens to get involved in Kingston; the Sustainable Business of the Year Award went to locally-based Olympic Printer Resources for keeping toner cartridges out of landfills by recycling them; and the Stillwaters Volunteer of the Year Award went to Burt Jackson, the project manager for the Stillwaters Tree House.

Maasberg said next year may be the ideal time to do several EcoFest-type events a year — holding the usual Earth Day event in April with the entertainment, food and children’s activities but hosting a more educational event in the late summer, like a type of “eco-homeshow”,” she said.

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