Sustainability Fair

Sustainability Fair

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Downs, Dillon
Let your exasperation at the gas pump serve as a reminder to attend the Corporation for the Northern Rockies’ (CNR) Sustainability Fair in Livingston on July 8. The event focuses on the full spectrum of sustainability, from biodiesel to the renaissance of older sustainable practices and methods. Toyota, the event’s signature sponsor, seeks to garner local interest by showcasing opportunities for western-grown products.

Fairgoers may gravitate to the exhibits about fossil fuel alternatives, but speakers will talk about a variety of agricultural opportunities in the sustainable fuel business. Mary Nickerson from Toyota’s Advanced Technology Division will discuss waste reduction in the automotive industry and the use of plant fibers and bioplastics in car production. For example, the new Toyota Prius will be sporting sweet-potato floormats, and there’s a rumor about flax-based bumpers.

CNR downplays technological advancement as the only source for innovation. This is why speakers will also discuss the return of certain farming methods that have long been sidelined. A simpler, less equipment-intensive approach means lower operating costs (after the initial conversion costs are absorbed). As a result, CNR consistently finds that sustainable ranches experience an average increase of 22% in profit. A business consultant will be on hand to discuss green economics and how farmers can implement “innovative financial strategies” to feasibly embrace sustainable practices.

The transportation and agricultural industries may be the major players in the sustainability movement, but building and design firms are gaining ground. Google “organic furniture” and the search results will speak for themselves. One can readily buy chic eco-friendly furniture from the Pacific Rim and solar hot-water heaters online. The folks from Refuge Sustainable Building Center will represent Bozeman’s green builders at the event.

Dr. Susan Capalbo from MSU will explain how plants absorb airborne carbon and why curbing plowing and clear-cutting is vital to our efforts of stemming global warming. With the onset of the summer heat, information on drought-resistant plants and drip systems fed by rainwater cisterns will come in handy. Attendees will also get a chance to check out permeable paving and “living roofs” that dissipate solar radiation.

Many local organic-food growers will also be at the fair. A panel discussion, titled “Journey to Sustainability,” will take place at the Museum of the Rockies on Friday July 7 from 7 to 8:30 pm. The Sustainable Fair itself kicks off at 9 am in the Depot Rotary Park in downtown Livingston and lasts until 5:30 pm.
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