RE-Fest looks at new way of doing business

Published 11:18 am Monday, September 20, 2010

Leighsa Peterson looks over a selection of bags at the Crazy Busy booth Saturday afternoon during RE-fest, held at Riverland Community College. Artist and crafter Stena Lieb was featuring recycled hand bags. --Eric Johnson/

Going green never seemed so easy.

At least that’s what organizers of RE-fest hope most people were thinking when they left the third annual celebration of green living and clean energy.

RE-fest returned this year on Saturday to celebrate green living and green energy. People could attend the event on the Riverland Community College lawn to see examples of how to go green.

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“We’re trying to get everyone thinking how they can live more lightly on the planet,” said Larry Dolphin, one of the co-chairman of RE-fest. “RE-fest stands for “rethink conservation, rethink clean energy and restore conservation.”

RE-fest organizers practiced what they preached. The main stage was powered entirely by Riverland’s solar unit. The stage featured performers like Tom Pease, After School Special, and meteorologist Randy Brock.

Dolphin said RE-fest is designed to get people thinking about how they can become involved.

“It’s all about providing information so people can take it and use it in some way or form at their home,” Dolphin said.

Kelly Lady, RE-fest co-chairwoman, said the day offered something for everyone. For adults, there were a number of workshops in Riverland classrooms about things like clean energy, diets and even skin care from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

For the children, there was a “solar carnival” featuring inflatables and other things for children. There was also a tent where teenagers could pledge to go green.

Ideas and inspiration were readily available as a number of vendors lined the sidewalk outside Riverland to discuss green initiatives.

Stena Lieb sold bags made of recycled materials, like jeans, shirts, CapriSun pouches, and animal feed bags.

Lieb, who lives near Lanesboro, said the idea started a few years ago when she started looking for ways to reuse things, rather than throwing them away. People often bring old items to Lieb to see what she can make out of them.

Children's entertainer Tom Pease performs at the Sun Stage during RE-fest Saturday at Riverland Community College.

“Instead of them throwing it away, I can reuse it an make something new out of it,” she said.

Lieb doesn’t attend events like RE-fest just to sell her products, she also aims to educate people about how they can make similara items.

“They may not always buy stuff from me, but at least I’m telling them how they can reuse their own stuff,” she said.

Tyler Warren, a sales representative with Expert Insulation, had a booth dedicated to talking about how proper insulation can help people save money. Warren said properly insulating a home is a key step in going green and controlling energy costs.

Alicia Engstrom of Dunnell sold reusable cloth diapers. Engstrom said the diapers can be used to save money. The cloth diapers feature a reusable outer shell and

can either use a washable interior or a biodegradable interior.

“It’s becoming more familiar to people,” she said. “Some people it’s completely new to. They’d never seen a modern version of a cloth diaper.”

Even the most expensive cloth diapers cost about a third of average diaper use, Engstrom said. She added traditional disposable diapers don’t break down in

landfills, and can cause rashes.

“I get a lot of mixed reaction,” she said. “Some people are like, ‘Why would you want to do that?’ Others are like, ‘Thank you for doing this.’”

Along with the reusable diapers, Engstrom also had biodegradable disposable diapers.

RE-fest organizers hope the event continues long into the future to continue spreading such ideas.

“I just think it’s very current, and we’re really excited to have this to be the third year we put this on,” Lady said. “We want this to continue because it’s a relevant issue right now.”