Jeannie Cameron had a mission at Elgin's Green Expo on Saturday: she wanted to find out what items she can drop off for recycling, and where.
"I really want to do my part, it's important," said Cameron, whose Elgin home is in Cook County and not eligible for recycling pickup.
The "For the Beauty of the Earth" expo, held at The Centre in downtown Elgin, featured about 160 vendors in areas such as green building and technology, natural wellness, green lifestyles, and school and education, plus informational booths about the city's sustainability action plan.
Hundreds of families perused the vendors' displays, which offered items as disparate as glass trays and incense burners made out of recycled bottles from Wildfire Productions in Downers Grove, to baby bibs made with cork fabric from Peaceful Parlour in Geneva.
Food vendors ranged from vegan desserts from Bread from the Heart in Western Springs to naturally raised meat delivered from Arnold's Farm in Elizabeth, Ill.
Speakers included sessions on how to start a community garden and fight the emerald ash borer. There were live painting and pottery demonstrations, plus a clown and a petting zoo for the little ones.
Organizer Sigi Psimenos said she expected the crowd to top 5,000 or 6,000 by the end of the day.
The main message was that being eco-friendly can be as easy as one wants it to be, Psimenos said. "It doesn't have to be a drudgery," she said. "We can have fun while doing it. And if you can save money, even better! Who doesn't need a little extra money these days?"
If people aren't ready to buy solar panels, they can start saving energy by buying compact fluorescent light bulbs. And if a hybrid or electric car is too much of a commitment, you still can improve your gas mileage by keeping tires properly inflated and making sure filters are clean, she said.
Twelve-year-old Liam Lye attended the event with his aunt, Tanya Esmond of Elgin, and said more people should be eco-friendly. Two years ago, Liam asked for a solar-powered charger for his cellphone as a birthday present.
"I always unplug my electronics when I am done," he said. "I try to save energy every day."