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Exhibitors showcase green products at expo

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(Lauren M. Anderson – landerson@shawmedia.com)
John Gazdacka of Itasca looks at a Rockford Renewable Energy wind turbine on display Saturday at the fourth annual Green Living Expo and Bioneers Conference at McHenry County College.

CRYSTAL LAKE – To onlookers’ amazement, Henry Ekildsen repeatedly threw a long tubular light down on to the hard tile floor of McHenry County College’s gym.

Then, he picked up the bulb, still intact.

Next, Ekildsen clicked the tube into an overhead lighting fixture, where it blinked on and emitted a warm light over the area.

Ekildsen, working for SEESMART Inc. Earth Friendly Solutions, had just demonstrated the durability of an LED tube light.

Although the tube Ekildsen threw looked like a regular florescent bulb it was in fact a series of light emitting diodes inside a plastic tube. And, it offered “superior efficiency,” a “longer life span” and was “safer” than the old standbys, he said.

SEESMART, with sales offices in Crystal Lake and Wauconda, was just one of 64 businesses and organizations sharing environmentally-friendly products and services Saturday at the second annual Green Living Expo.

Two battery-powered lawn mowers presented by men with the Lou Marchi Total Recycling Institute and the LED display were among most visually attention-getting displays.

Although McHenry County is a leader in efforts that benefit the environment – it was the first county in Illinois to enforce a residential recycling law and more than 71 percent of the county’s 214 miles of highway are taken care of by Adopt-A- Highway volunteers – only recently have events such as the Green Living Expo come to fruition.

“A lot of the ideas wouldn’t have had traction 10 years ago,” said Caron Wenzel, chairwoman of the steering committee to host the college’s first official Bioneer Conference. The educational event also was held Saturday, in tandem with the expo.

“Today, with the popularity of thinking about your life as part of a system ... and things like farmers markets, there is a more welcoming climate,” Wenzel said. “And that is huge because it is needed.”

The Woodstock resident, who works in environmental education and consulting, said the impressions she got from the more than 50 visitors to the expo and 80-some people at the conference was that area residents are ready to change and that they are looking for ideas and people to help them.

Although there have been three previous Bioneer gatherings at the college, this was the first recognized by the official Bioneers group – a nonprofit educational organization that highlights breakthrough solutions for restoring the planet, its website said.

The conference featured speakers including Bill Wilson, co-founder of Midwest Permaculture, and sessions that addressed the smart grid, local food, water issues, earth ethics and climate change.

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