A pivotal push to Go Green at expo

Bags sold at the Go Green Expo in Los Angeles

TEXT OF STORY

KAI RYSSDAL: Alright, you can now officially set aside all your worries over making sure environmental products you buy are actually good for the environment. Next week "Good Housekeeping" magazine is going to announce a green "Good Housekeeping" seal of approval. That clearly means the sustainability movement has hit the big time, even if many of us are pretty green at being green. We sent Cash Peters to a convention that's designed to help us learn how.


CASH PETERS: Years ago, the idea of a green expo would have been considered flaky and fringe. Now though? Well, it's still a bit flaky, but, you know, less. Actress and green person Mariel Hemingway.

MARIEL HEMINGWAY: In the past, it's been a movement of "those people." They eat granola, and they're just different from us. The fact of the matter is, I think people really are concerned with their parks, and their environment, and their homes. But it's all overwhelming to them.

Overwhelming is right. The Go Green Expo was stuffed to the rafters with bamboo towels, hemp this and hemp that, and geeky men telling you why you should ionize your tap water.

Go Green Expo MAN: So ionization breaks the clusters up and makes them into small little clusters, or small little cells of water, therefore your cells get, the water gets to the cells taking all of the nutrition and oxygen...

Hmm. Yes. I see. That's the problem right there. To the rest of us, eco-friendly people sound like whacked-out brainiacs.

Go Green Expo Woman: I'm on Planet Green right now.

She sure was. And on Planet Green, everything is different. Lisa Fenton was promoting an electric car. Top speed 35 miles an hour. That's two notches up from a skateboard. And it's ugly.

LISA FENTON: I don't think so. We've had a lot of people come by here today and they say, "Cute, it's cute."

PETERS: Yes, but those are people with no taste.

FENTON: No taste? You don't think this is great?

PETERS: I don't actually. I think it's really horrible.

FENTON: I guess you don't like a Volkswagen either.

PETERS: You are psychic.

JOSH TICKELL: We are at that moment, a critical moment in the green industry where it's kind of like the first computers. They were junk, absolute junk. You couldn't do anything with them. They didn't even spell check. But then suddenly there was a moment when computers became something that everyone can use.

That's Josh Tickell, director of the eco-movie "Fuel," which I've not seen. But is it possible do you think that regular folks say they care about saving the planet, but don't really?

TICKELL: It's not for lack of caring, it's for lack of knowing what to do.

PETERS: OK, it's not that they don't care, they are lazy. And indifferent.

TICKELL: I actually don't even...

PETERS: And boring. And indolent.

TICKELL: I actually don't think they're lazy. I think that there is a lack of basic fundamental education on what to do.

Hmm. And you know what they want us to do? Go back to the land. Boise Thomas has an ecology show on TV. Which, needless to say, I've not seen.

BOISE THOMAS: The big push for me is farming. I think everyone needs to get their fingers dirty again, get dirt under their fingernails, start growing their own food, and start getting back in touch with the planet.

PETERS: You see, it horrifies me, the idea of getting my fingers dirty.

THOMAS:Well, you should...

PETERS: Do you know how much this manicure cost?

THOMAS: You should get involved with people who do, and maybe you can just wash down the shovels or something.

Oh, yeah, you can see me washing down shovels, right? But I have to admit, there's something very exciting and new about all this. I really got sucked in. Bradford Rand, the guy behind the Expo, is like a modern-day Noah, and the tree huggers are helping him build an ark.

BRADFORD RAND: This could be the green revolution. This could be a pivotal point where we actually make a stand against the naysayers that say global warming is a myth. I guess when they develop lung cancer or drink poisonous water, maybe then they'll realize that we were right.

Yikes. But finally, back to lovely Mariel Hemingway. Give me one step, Mariel, I said, that will help get me started and on the road to...

Green-Expo Woman: I'm on Planet Green right now.

Anywhere other than where she is. What can I do?

HEMINGWAY: Change your breakfast. Start with that. Change something small.

PETERS: Do you know what I had for breakfast? Hemp.

HEMINGWAY: You had hemp seeds. Actually, you know what, I love hemp seeds. They're nutty.

PETERS: Like yourself, really.

HEMINGWAY: Yeah, kinda like me.

She thought I was joking.

In Los Angeles, I'm Cash Peters for Marketplace.

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