Q&A: Green Living Show CEO Says It's Still A Go, Extra Measures Amid Coronavirus Concerns

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IMPORTANT UPDATE: MARCH 12, 6:35 PM. GREEN LIVING SHOW HAS BEEN CANCELLED.

With the evolving COVID-19 pandemic, and Health Canada’s recommendation to avoid gatherings of more than 1,000 people, the decision has been made to cancel this year's Green Living Show, scheduled for March 13-15 at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre.While we are disappointed, the safety and wellbeing of the public, the staff, our vendors and exhibitors is paramount. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause and thank everyone for their support of our event.Attendees may contact info@greenlivingshow.ca or visit www.greenlivingshow.ca for further information on refunds.

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The Green Living Show, this weekend (March 13 to 15), at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre, is still a go despite cancellations of other public events due to coronavirus (COVID-19) concerns. The show, now in its 14th year, includes more than 300 exhibitors, various speakers, activations and learning zones, and locally sourced food and drink.

Tickets are $14 online, $18.00 at the door; students and seniors (65+) are $12 online or $16 at the door. Children 12 and under are free, accompanied by an adult. There is also 50 percent off at the box office for those with a Presto card or Live Green card or app.

The website has an up-to-date statement under “health & safety” and Green Living Show president/CEO Kathleen Krimker spoke to Samaritanmag not just about this year’s programming, but the precautions and measures they are taking to help keep visitors safe.

“We have been very closely following any updates from the various public health agencies on the federal, provincial and municipal level and we've taken extra precautions, as well as the venue, around sanitization and good hygiene," she tells Samaritanmag. "We'll have a number of hand-sanitizing stations, as well as handwashing stations around the show floor at all the entrances and exits, anywhere food is being consumed,. And we will have extra signage as well.”

The show did cancel its brand new bring-your-own plate initiative, she adds. “That was program we had put in place to encourage the zero-waste movement, but given the developments and what's happening [with the coronavirus], we've decided to pause on that this year. So we're working with all of our food vendors to ensure that there's a healthy and safe environment for everybody who's going to be joining us this weekend.”

Now on with the show talk.

Samaritanmag: How do you define green living?

Kathleen Krimker: There's a wide breadth of conversations when we're talking about ‘what is green living?’ It touches every aspect of our life and lifestyles. What our aim is with the Green Living Show is to present something for everybody and for every aspect of your life. So if it's somebody who is looking to just change one habit or one aspect of their lifestyle, they can come in and leave with that one green thing. Or if it's somebody who's looking to get a little bit more serious, you can come into The Green Living Show and have a whole overhaul on your entire lifestyle to be more conscious and more sustainable.

For people like me who don’t live a 100 percent green lifestyle, and you might likely find wrong items in my garbage or recycle bin, I don’t want to feel intimidated by a show entirely dedicated to green living but would like to learn.

Absolutely. I'm actually really glad you brought this up because I think majority of people out there can identify with that. At one time in my life, I was definitely sitting in those shoes where you might have a little bit of eco-guilt so to speak, and you want to do better, but you don't really know where to start and you're afraid to ask the questions because you're afraid people are going to know that I'm not perfect.  And that's what's really great about the Green Living Show that it is a very positive, empowering and welcoming environment. I think that there's not one solution to the different climate challenges that we're facing and so again it's really about looking at different aspects of our lifestyle and how can we make small changes that when they're adopted en masse make a big difference. So, again, it's a very approachable empowering environment, but people are going to come to and feel like they learned something and leave feeling positive and empowered about changes that they can make to create a brighter future.

You have hundreds of exhibitors covering everything from jewelry makers to bee products to naturopaths and organic wine. How do you vet them to ensure that they stay within the parameters of “green living” and you don't have the green living police out going, “Well, these people pollute here.”

I will start by saying that a lot of our exhibitors have been with the show for many years so we are very familiar with them and their businesses and products and services. That definitely makes our jobs when vetting a lot easier. But for anyone new looking to join the show — and again reiterating that no one solution is perfect for the different challenges that we're facing. — what we do is we ask exhibitors who want to participate in the show to submit to us a sustainability statement. That helps to us to identify what environmental problem their product or service works to solve and how they do that. And then we work on a jury process. So internally, as a team, we will review those applications to ensure that fits the mandate of the show. We end up with a really nice selection of amazing businesses, many of them local who are doing really incredible things.

You have some workshops that cover hot topics like fast fashion and mental health.

I'm really excited about the programming that we have this year. We've got a few different zones on the show floor with different programming around different themes. Our main stage features talks throughout the weekend, highlighting everything from conservation and the environment all the way to more lifestyle topics like how to live zero-waste or how to focus on living a nontoxic lifestyle with the products that you're using. We really work to identify topics that might be top of mind for our attendees. And we work to find the experts in those fields to be able to speak to those subjects and really address issues that are on that are on the minds of a lot of Torontonians and Canadians.

We see young people at the forefront of the environmental movement, like Greta Thunberg rallying young people worldwide. Is the show for kids as well? Can they bring their parents put the wrong thing in the garbage?

Absolutely. We are a family-friendly event. It’s pretty exciting to see that youth and children are coming to the forefront and they're almost the leaders of the green living movement. It’s almost the children teaching the parents in a lot of ways about how we can live more sustainably. We do have a large eco-kid zone, which is being programmed by Earth Rangers. They do programming for kids to encourage outdoor play and encourage kids to interact with nature. So there's going to be a lot of great educational opportunities there. And again, it's a great place just for families to come and spend the day. We’re on the first weekend of March Break and I know lots of families are looking for things to do and this is a great way to come and spend time with the family and learn and enjoy and eat and play and have a good time.

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