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Eco-Show-and-Tell : This year's Green Business Conference will focus on cutting costs while safeguarding the environment.


It took me 20 years to realize that ecology and economy begin with the same root--eco--which derives from the Greek word for dwelling. You could say ecology and economy are about household maintenance.

Mark Armstrong is the facilities projects manager in charge of maintenance for a whole city--Oxnard. You might think that he and the city would have figured this out a long time ago. Well, they did.

For the past dozen years, Oxnard has been combining environmentalism and thrift in civic housekeeping.

According to Armstrong, the city started with an energy audit in 1980. Some of the immediate results, he said, were: Installing power-saving light bulbs in city buildings and turning off the air conditioning off during winter; a switch to non-hazardous, non-toxic citrus-based cleaning materials, which reduced city worker complaints about asthma, etc., and also cut costs. This effort, Armstrong asserted, even reduced landfill dumping because the containers were reusable. There's a lot of good eco-thinking going on in Oxnard City Hall.

Tomorrow, Armstrong is giving a presentation about Oxnard at a big eco-jamboree, "The Green Business Conference and Trade Show," at the Los Angeles Convention Center. The topic will be "The Hidden Gold in Energy Efficiency--Finding Scarce Dollars in City and County Governments and Schools." The conference is part of the now-annual Eco Expo, the biggest eco-show-and-tell get-together in the country.

If you're in business or government and want to see the latest products and services that are easier on everyone's well-being and budget, you might want to head down to the convention center.

In addition to Armstrong's presentation, other folks from our county will be there. As part of the business conference, Alan Tratner of the Camarillo-based Inventors Workshop International Foundation will lead an all-day inventors and entrepreneurs workshop with special sessions from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Tratner's firm, which has been in business for 20 years, has been invited by the Eco Expo management to stage nuts-and-bolts briefings on such topics as "green" certification, marketing and promotion, licensing, exporting, patent protection (that's one inventors will flock to) and environmental regulation.

The heavy hitters in the U.S. retailing and management sector are co-sponsoring the event. I'm talking about types who just a few years ago probably wouldn't have been caught dead at this kind of "green" or "environmental" or "earth-wise" get-together. They include the National Assn. of Chain Drug Stores, the National Assn. of Convenience Stores, the Southern California Grocers Assn., the Home Center Institute and swinging back to the folks who may be looking in on Armstrong's presentation, the Building Owners and Managers Assn.

Complementing these seminars by our local delegation will be Peter Kasprzak, of the environmental consulting firm S.E.E. Global Contrast of Simi Valley, who will have an exhibit at the expo part of the event. There, he and his colleagues will show off their eco-educational programs.

You've read in this column my litany of reduce, reuse, recycle. Kasprzak's consulting firm has figured out a way to dress up this idea--literally--to make it engaging for school kids.

"Tammy the Recycling Eagle" is a cartoon character invented to combine patriotism, environmentalism and fun so kids attending school assemblies and other youth functions can find out about recycling. The firm comes in and puts on a live-action play, entitled "Tammy the Recycling Eagle Solves the Mystery of the Missing Trees."

Tammy's "range" is wide, involving travels to the East Coast for presentations sponsored by the United Nations, Bloomingdales and other august entities.

I like the idea of an eagle--who is female in this particular case--linking with the two eco-things, ecology and economy. And this local company has done something I hope Washington notices--that taking care of our dwelling place, whether a county or a nation, is not a fringe or secondary issue but is central to patriotism.


* Eco Expo runs Friday through Sunday at the L.A. Convention Center. Call (818) 906-2802.

* Friday, the Green Business Conference and Trade Show will take place simultaneously at the Convention Center, including an all-day series of seminars, "Eco-Inventors and Eco Entrepreneurs Workshop." For information on this particular program, the Ventura County number to call is 484-8738.

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