By Jessica Stone
COLUMBIA — A plastic bag “monster” appeared outside of Columbia City Hall for the 2014 Sustainable Living Fair Saturday, but instead of terrorizing residents, the monster educated them about environmental waste.
“The average shopper uses 500 plastic bags per year,” said the monster, Osage Chapter Sierra Club volunteer Carolyn Amparan, with only her head and neckline visible in a bulky garb of 500 plastic bags.
Sierra Club volunteers took turns donning the plastic bag suit they call the “plastic bag monster” to attract passers-by to their booth to sign their petition of support for a single-use plastic bag ban in Columbia. The ordinance will be presented to the city council at Monday’s meeting.
Nancy Boon of Pierpont attended the fair to support building contractor Robyn Magner’s presentation on solar home design. Boon said Magner’s knowledge of passive solar and design principles, combined with her architectural plans, led to construction of Boon’s sustainable home in 1983. Boon said the reduction in her environmental impact has been worthwhile.
“There comes a time when doing it ideally is just not worth it, so you do the best you can,” Boon said, speaking up near the end of Magner’s lecture. “If you’re satisfied with keeping your environmental impact to a minimum, don’t fret for that last 10 percent, unless you’re real motivated to. But if you’re doing 80 percent efficiency on everything you’re doing in the house, you’re doing really well.”
Stephanie Childress and her family traveled Jefferson City to see what the fair had to offer. She was most interested in learning more about rain barrels and listening to environmental speaker Christina Mattson’s presentation on ecologically friendly eating.
“The lady [Mattson] is vegan and I’m a vegetarian,” Childress said. “So I was interested in that, and she has children, too.”
Childress considers herself “eco-friendly.”
“I bring my own reusable bags to the grocery store, I compost, I save water,” she said. “I drive my family crazy.”
The fair attracted two Westminster College students who live in the EcoHouse. The house, built on campus, promotes eco-friendly living for students and the community.
“I really love getting to know more of what everyone else is doing trying to be more sustainable,” sophomore Olivia Andoe said. “At EcoHouse, we try to be more sustainable, so this seems like a perfect place to learn what other people are doing about that.”
The Sustainable Living Fair featured eight workshops on sustainable living philosophy, three off-site tours to solar buildings and more than a dozen educational booths promoting eco-friendly lifestyles.