Solar power, medicine collection part of first ever Sustainable Living Expo

VERO BEACH – Residents from around the county learned it can be easy to be green – a little forethought and planning can help. Several hundred attended the first Sustainable Living Expo at the Vero Beach Community Center on Saturday.

“I’m really happy with the way things turned out,” said Sustainable Indian River member Aurora Stein said.  “We just wanted to educate people.”

Nearly 40 vendors set up booths inside the community center touting their eco-friendly products and services.

Dave Corbet, of Commercial Building Corp., and his wife, Sherri, had a booth to promote their residential solar water heating systems.

“We had to be here,” Sherri Corbet said of attending the expo.

Dave said that they were happy to participate in the event to spread the word on alternative energies and how they can be applied to homes.

Along with serving as a one-stop shop for residents to learn what they could do around their homes and businesses to be more environmentally sensitive, the Indian River County Sheriff’s Office was on hand collecting old medicines.

“We’re doing so good,” said Sgt. Roberta Barker. “I’m so happy.”

Sgt. Barker helps coordinate Operation Medicine Cabinet around the county throughout the year, serving as a safe way for residents to dispose of unneeded medications. The best part for the sergeant, she said, is getting the drugs out of the environment and off the streets.

Det. Bill Staar estimated approximately 100 people showed up to discard their pills, leaving behind about 100 pounds.

By comparison, the last three Operation Medicine Cabinet events countywide since November 2009, collected nearly 200 pounds of drugs combined.

Det. Staar said that it is not only important to clean out medicine cabinets to keep potential burglars from getting the pills, but also because there is a trend of children taking the medications for themselves.

“They don’t care what it is,” the detective said. “It could be for constipation – or Viagra – for all they know.”

Venise Noel and Lawrence Ganieany both attended the expo in hopes of learning how to improve their homes’ air quality.

Noel said she had learned about the role a humidifier could play in making the air inside her home better.

The expo also served as a way to increase their knowledge and desire for helping the environment, they said.

Noel has taken to heart the reusable shopping bags, she said, which she plans to keep at home, in her car and at her office – so she’s never without one when she goes grocery shopping.

Ganieany, a licensed residential painter and owner of The Painter LLC, said that he is currently undergoing green certification and is taking a 15-hour course at Indian River State College. He is already using painter materials that contain no volatile organic compounds, which do not benefit the environment.

“I’m having a good time,” he said of being at the expo.

Sustainable Indian River Inc. came up with the idea for the green-themed event as a way to promote numerous ways of being eco-friendly at the same time. The organization recently formed and needed a way to reach out to the community.

“People need to be aware,” Stein said of how easy it can be to go green.

The group has launched as a place where people can go to get more information and make better choices when they shop, build or travel.

“You can’t give up everything,” Stein said. But “you’ve got to have a balance.”

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