Take the 10-minute trip down the parkway to Kean University in Union for this weekend's Garden State GreenFest environmental event.
The three-day show kicked off Friday and continues Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Evening events include the Planet Hugger Film Festival and the Saturday afternoon Jersey Pour 2011 beer and wine tasting.
For adults, the festival offers opportunities to discuss solar and energy-saving options with dozens of exhibitors, hear local experts talk about greener lawn care and starting green businesses, see films, learn about bee-keeping, sample organic beers and chocolate, buy eco-friendly fashion, and lots more.
Kids can check out a low-maintenance pet that never needs a walk (more on that below), get their hands dirty making seed ball bombs and pick up tips on how to get composting-resistant parents on the green bandwagon.
Saturday at noon, Jeff Yeager, author of "The Cheapskate Next Door," is scheduled to talk about "how living green costs less, not more."
His Friday presentation included a humorous "trashcan autopsy," where Yeager pulled typically tossed items such as clamshell packaging, individual serving containers and paper towels out of a trashcan.
"The autopsy shows how and where families are spending and wasting money and resources," he said.
For each item, Yeager suggested cheaper alternatives to keep money from being tossed in the trash.
The festival's keynote speaker is Bill Nye, known as "Bill Nye the Science Guy" from his Emmy-award-winning television show. Nye is scheduled to speak Sunday at 1 p.m. about how New Jersey residents can reduce their energy deficit.
Now, back to that low-maintenance pet: how about some worms? To learn more, stop by self-declared vermicomposter Irene Marx's booth in the children's area to learn more about starting and maintaining a worm bin at home or as a classroom project.
"Vermi means worm in Latin. Vermiculture, or worm farming, can reduce your trash and create rich compost for the garden with little to no work," said Marx.
The green film festival starts at 4 p.m. each day and includes high-profile films, such as "Who Killed the Electric Car" and "The Story of Stuff," as well as Sundance entry "The End of the Line" about overfishing and the 20-minute "The Meatrix" about factory meat production. Films are $5 per film online or $7 at the door. Descriptions and times are here.
The evening session for the Jersey Pour Beer and Wine Tasting Festival is sold out, but an earlier session from 4:30 p.m. to 6 p.m. still has tickets available. A $5 cover charge bought online or $10 at the door gets you in with a souvenir beer or wine glass to sample organic cheeses, crackers and more. Drink tickets for wine and beer samples cost for $10 for 10 inside the venue.
General admission tickets are $10 online or $15 at the show; kids under 18 free. Ample free parking is available.
[Editor's note: This story first published March 19 at 9:44 a.m.]