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MoCo celebrates pledge to healthier environment with GreenFest

SILVER SPRING — More than 1,000 attendees participated in the free, all-day festival GreenFest, held on Saturday at Jessup Blair Park in Silver Spring. Inspired by people who want a healthier environment, GreenFest is the largest annual environmental festival in Montgomery County. 

At the event, solar energy cars were lined up one by one; about 100 environmentally-influenced booths were present, including those that featured vegan food, local plant vendors, and government agencies and residents of Montgomery County gathered in the hope of building a healthier community.

 “I love GreenFest!” said Michelle DeVillo, recycling program volunteer coordinator of the festival and a Montgomery County resident. “It’s a great opportunity for residents and businesses to come in and take a look at what’s available, what's more earth-friendly, and basically just better for the environment.” DeVillo said that with her being a local resident, she feels like one of the biggest issues she would like to see in environmental change is awareness in resident mentality towards issues like recycling. “The impact that we have when we make the wrong choices can be detrimental for generations to come,” she said. 

Much like DeVillo, other residents who participated in GreenFest expressed their concerns and reasoning for taking part in the festival. The local dance group known as UpRooted Dance performed an entire routine covered in recycled costumes made of newspapers, bottles, and plastic cans. 

“This dance was inspired by consumption and how fast we go through things, especially with plastic water bottles; plastic is a big thing that we just tear through,” said Rachael Appold, 24, a member of the dance group, who also performed the routine wearing the recycled ensemble. 

“We just kind of throw things away like it’s a trend that goes in and out of style, and you can see it in our movements [performance] our skirts are tearing off, our costumes are tearing off, we are just leaving it behind; we are not picking it up,” said Appold, explaining how the dance coincides with the issues everyone faces today environmentally.

Appold added that not only did she participate in GreenFest by performing, but she also enjoys attending the festival. “GreenFest is something that I do feel passionate about,” said Appold. “I’ve seen so many signs and people who have been making upcycled crafts personally. I love upcycled crafts; they obviously use less waste, and I think they can be a big fashion statement. Recycling really won’t go out of style.” 

As children participated in tree climbing, the stream maze, and educational workshops, parents were side-by-side with mascots like Willie Water Drop enjoying the festivities. 

“GreenFest is certainly a way to celebrate the environment and to connect community members who care about the environment with one another, so that they can learn ways to help the environment, to live more sustainably, and also how to take action,” said Gina Mathias, 38, the sustainability manager of the City of Takoma Park. 

Mathias said that in Montgomery County, particularly Takoma Park, environmental issues of concern include greenhouse gas emissions, waste reduction, and overall improvement in the environment for the County. Mathias hopes GreenFest will not only give residents more knowledge but help solve the issues locals face in their community. 

“I hope that it [GreenFest] raises more awareness,” Mathias said. “I hope it makes community members find new connections in their own community and to build that sense of friendliness and love for the environment in Montgomery County.” 

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