Next week's Elgin's Green Expo will include the first Green Awards along with its long-standing message that going green can save you money, organizers said.
The expo takes place May 10 and 11 at The Centre of Elgin. The group Elgin Climate Change Organization is spearheading the free event, which organizers say is the largest of its kind in the Fox Valley.
"People for years thought that by going green it meant it costs more money," said ECCO board chairwoman Sigi Psimenos. "But by doing simple things, people can save an average of $1,700 per year."
For example, using a caulk gun to better insulate windows to save on heat or air conditioning costs, or keeping your tires inflated to save on gas consumption can make a big difference, Psimenos said.
There will be more than 150 participants along with a volunteer fair so people can learn about volunteer opportunities in Elgin.
"The one thing about sustainability and being green is you have to work with the community as one hand," she said. "It's the only way these things work."
To celebrate its fifth anniversary, the expo will include the five natural elements -- earth, wind, fire, water and spirit, Psimenos said.
On May 10, there will be a fire dancing show. On May 11, there will be Native American dancers and live falcons and hawks. A large mobile aquarium stocked with fish from the Fox River will be on display both days, along with a Native American teepee set up outside The Centre.
Twenty ECCO Green Awards will be given out to businesses and individuals who have been carrying out sustainability initiatives, Psimenos said. The awards were handmade by a local potter.
ECCO purchased "offsets" through the organization TerraPass -- meaning, it donated money that will be used for projects that reduce pollution -- to make up for the ecological impact of the expo, including the anticipated electricity and gas usage from both participants and attendees, she said.
Psimenos said she really believes these past five years' green expos have made a difference.
"I'd say four or three years ago on Facebook you couldn't see as many people outraged about the quality of the water, the quality of the air or a coal fire plant," she said. "Now you've got regular average people that are involved in the fracas."
Elgin's Green Expo will be presented in partnership with Waste Management, Davey Tree, and the city of Elgin's sustainability commission. It takes place 7 to 9 p.m. May 10 and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. May 11 at The Centre of Elgin, 100 Symphony Way.
People interested in volunteering should visit elgingreenexpo.org/get-involved-2/volunteer.