Wallflower fest smells like a (pesticide-free) rose

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Ed Begley Jr. spoke at the first Malibu Wallflower Organic and Eco Festival Saturday. Photo by Janet Laird / TMT

The Malibu Chamber of Commerce’s Zero Impact Malibu hosted the first Wallflower Organic and Eco Festival at Legacy Park on Saturday.

From the Green Truck dispensing organic grilled goat cheese sandwiches to whole house watering systems, pure bamboo hypo-allergenic clothing and a 2.4 kilowatt solar-powered soundstage showcasing (among others) music by the Stephani Valadez Ensemble and one-man wonder Scott Huckabay, Saturday’s eco festival offered alternatives to the continuing “runaway consumerism that is threatening the sustainability of our planet,” as judged by Mark Chasan, CEO of the “green” equities firm Transformative Capital.

And if the crowded booths, lively Q & A participation in the panel discussions by experts, and reams of brochures on solar power and organic dog food clutched by festival-goers are any indication, Malibu is eager to pursue the 21st century philosophy of green living.

Sponsored by a raft of like-minded local businesses and organizations, including PermaCity Solar, Net Impact-Pepperdine and The Malibu Times, the festival had something for everybody; with celebrity environmentalist Ed Begley Jr. moderating an impressive schedule of speakers, a children’s Eco Village featuring ocean wonders from the Aquarium of the Pacific and the Children’s Nature Institute, organic caterers, event booths offering “green” advice.

As Chasan said, “For the first time in human history, we are seeing a threat to our world’s survivability and we must come together to address this challenge.”

Starting with encouraging people to exercise consumer power by “buying green,” Chasan said that those who invest in alternative energies, organic foods and forestry conservation are the people who will influence public policy of tomorrow.

Many examples of new technologies designed to reverse the damages of climate change were on display at the festival.

Jamie Burr of PermaCity Solar said, “People are sometimes skeptical of the initial costs of installing solar paneling, but we are talking about providing 50 to 100 years of power.”

Herman Blanke of Eco Aqua Bio Pools introduced a new sustainable pool system that relies on a mini eco system aerated and filtrated by natural plants to keep swimming pools bacteria free and clear. “No chemicals. We just use Mother Nature,” Blanke said.

Eco panelists were quick to point out that there are countless small ways every resident can begin to lessen their effect on the environment, which add up collectively to a much larger impact such as using nontoxic, biodegradable cleaning and laundry products, biking instead of driving, composting for the garden instead of using chemical fertilizers and eating local organic food.

“This is a consciousness revolution,” Andy Lopez of the Invisible Gardner said. Lopez has never found need for chemicals in his business and offers truckloads of organic gardening advice on his radio program “Don’t Panic, It’s Organic.”

Festival vendors were as informative as they were diverse. Taryn Braband extolled the virtues of the Calmont School’s move to a new campus on Cottontail Ranch. “The idea is to be 100 percent self-sustainable,” she said. “We are raising a generation of environmentally responsible children.”

Tedd Abramson of VegAuto.com promotes conversion of diesel engines to run on pure vegetable oil. “Seventy percent of particulate pollution in California comes from diesel vehicles,” he said. “Our health depends on changing that.”

Abramson is launching an electric car rental business at Los Angeles Airport next year, with an on-board VegAuto charging system. “These cars run at highway speeds and get better acceleration than gas engine models,” he said.

“Enormous problems create enormous opportunities,” Michael Timothy McAlevey of EnergyLite Companies said. “It makes sense to support businesses that create less waste. Boats can be powered by solar panels and companies are creating fuel oil from algae.”