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Deepen Your Shade of Green

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Are you curious about what it means to "go green," or what steps you need to take in order to be more eco-friendly?

In its fourth year, the Green Living Fair—one of the largest "green" shows in the Southwest—is back to promote and inform people about what it takes to go green.

In conjunction with the Alternative Fuel Vehicle Day Odyssey, the Green Living Fair at the Habitat for Humanity Tucson HabiStore will include 35 vendors ready and eager to share tips and information about the many different ways to go green.

"It is going to be a wonderful opportunity to talk one-on-one with experts in many different fields for free," said Beth Gorman, senior program manager at the Pima County Department of Environmental Quality, one of the fair's presenters. "The goal is to share knowledge on an individual level to grow community sustainability.

Presenters include Sunflower Farmers Market, the Community Food Bank, City of Tucson Environmental Services and Tucson Electric Power. Green-goers will be able to check out vehicles fueled by biodiesel, ethanol, electricity and propane—and shop at the HabiStore.

At the HabiStore, a home-improvement center that relies on donations and volunteers, you can find anything from appliances and electronics to both new and used furniture and books. According to Terry Dee, the director of retail operations at the HabiStore, last year alone, the HabiStore diverted 200 tons of stuff from landfills.

"The difference between this year and previous years is that we have added the alternative-fuel part," Dee said about this year's fair. "We will have on display six to eight different vehicles with alternative-fuel options, including the Tesla, a fully electric car."

The fair has expanded, bringing in 15 vendors more than last year.

"We have a vendor waitlist for next year," said Gorman.

Last year, the event brought out more than 300 people; Dee said that he expects this year's turnout will be between 300 and 500 people. "Between the outreach and the amount of vendors, this year's event is already much bigger. I actually, for the first time, called the sheriff's department and notified them that we may be in need of traffic help," said Dee.

Dee said that next year's fair should take place at a new HabiStore building.

"We received a federal grant to install a solar system, so our electrical ... will be all-solar at the building. We want to make it more of a showcase for sustainability," said Dee about the new HabiStore location, which could be open by the first of the year.

In the meantime, there is still much to learn, see and do. "We really just want to show people how they can save, and learn the little things you can do to go green, such as how to grow your own organic veggies. It's the little things you can do that make the difference," said Dee.

The event is family-friendly, and prizes will be given away, ranging from children's books to HabiStore gift certificates.

"Deron Beal, the executive director and founder of the Freecycle Network, is working in conjunction with the library to give away books," said Dee. "Lots of kids' books. And if people want to bring a few books to donate, they can add them to the pile."

Tucson Organic Gardeners will present information about organic gardening in the desert and teach kids how to plant with organic soil—and they can even take a plant home.

"I hope that people come with questions—(and) just as much that they leave with questions," said Dee. "Hopefully, we plant the seed in their mind so they know they can do something, anything, to work toward green living. We hope that they leave with the answers and new questions about what they can do to live sustainably."

Attendees are encouraged to bring donations to the HabiStore and cans of food for the Community Food Bank. The organizations are striving for a zero-waste event, so attendees are encouraged to bring their own refillable water bottles.

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