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Sarasota events encourage eco-friendly living

Ava Kane, 7, looks at shark jawbones held by Alison Goldy, manager of community programs at Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium at The Bay Park.
Ava Kane, 7, looks at shark jawbones held by Alison Goldy, manager of community programs at Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium at The Bay Park.
Photo by Ian Swaby
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Two simultaneous events in downtown Sarasota celebrating eco-friendly living brought together more than the local community, according to Frances Bermudez, activation program manager at The Bay Park Conservancy.

Bermudez said a family of three from Mongolia, which included Namuun Bat-Ochir, Gantulga Galsandovjio and their daughter, flew 20 hours to attend the Green Living Expo, while also partaking in a Family Friendly Namaste at The Bay event.

Bat-Ochir and Galsandovjio are the owners of Eco Life Mongolia, a store chain based in Ulaanbaatar City offering eco and organic alternatives to common consumer goods.

"The whole world is coming together at The Bay," Bermudez said.

Vince Marino and Sam Jeffcoat of Oyster Boys Conservation hold a pair of vertical oyster gardens at The Bay Park.
Photo by Ian Swaby

The events on Dec. 2 and 3 involved the Green Living Expo, held by the Science and Environment Council in partnership with Sarasota County UF/IFAS Extension & Sustainability, and the Ever-Green Days at The Bay, a series of environmental-themed events at The Bay Park.

Ever-Green Days will continue until Dec. 6, also helping to support the EcoSummit, which will take place Dec. 5-6.

Green Living Expo

Two years ago, the Charles and Margery Barancik Foundation provided the Science and Environment Council with a $284,000 grant to produce a Green Living Toolkit that brought together sustainable solutions in one place.

The Green Living Expo was an extension of that idea, bringing it to life as a trade show, said Jennifer Shafer, co-executive director of the council.

The event offered the chance for the public to find out some of the many eco-friendly organizations and offerings available in Sarasota County.

Zach Zildjian of Ecological Landscaping at the Green Living Expo
Photo by Ian Swaby

For instance, Suncoast Reef Rovers had the chance to relate efforts removing and then recycling marine debris from coastal waters, having removed about 10,000 pounds of materials this year.

Objects they have found, staff said, include a bench, furniture, car batteries, sailboat masts — and even kitchen sinks.

Another organization featured was Transition Sarasota, which provides fresh produce to local food banks in need, bringing items from locations like farmers markets, farms and backyards that would otherwise go unused, as well as educating the community on the need they attempt to fill.

Multiple vendors said they were receiving meaningful engagement and questions from the attendees present.

Ever-Green Days at The Bay

Park Guest Experience Director Diana Shaheen said the Ever-Green Days helped spread the word about environmental initiatives while offering families free entertainment.

Dax Luzbet, 8 and Sol Luzbet, 6, work on the planting activity during "Eco-Storytime" by The Patterson Foundation at The Bay Park.
Photo by Ian Swaby

On Dec. 3, visitors could be seen building vertical oyster gardens with Oyster Boys Conservation, performing a seed-planting activity and receiving free books from The Patterson Foundation’s Suncoast Campaign for Grade-Level Reading during "Eco-Storytime," visiting "How to Train a Shark" by Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium staff and enjoying free kayak rides during "Ride & Paddle: ‘Round the Rookery."

"How to Train a Shark" was intended to help the public to empathize with sharks by showing how they can learn to interact with their handlers, said Alison Goldy, manager of community programs at Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium.

Jack Berry of The Garbage-Men plays a guitar created from materials including a Lucky Charms box at The Bay Park.
Photo by Ian Swaby

Overfishing has a huge impact on shark populations, she said. Not only are sharks targeted for their fins, but they are often caught as bycatch.

Amid the hands-on activities was live music by The Garbage-Men, a Sarasota band using instruments made from recycled materials.

“It's different, and we know because we play real instruments too — but these are just as real,” said founder Jack Berry.

Correction: This article has been updated with the correct grant amount Science and Environment Council received from the Charles and Margery Barancik Foundation



Ian Swaby

Ian Swaby is the Sarasota neighbors writer for the Observer. Ian is a Florida State University graduate of Editing, Writing, and Media and previously worked in the publishing industry in the Cayman Islands.

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