Creating a Marketplace for Green with Green Festivals’ Pascale Coupal-Sikes

May 8, 2015

 
JOHN SHEGERIAN: Welcome to another edition of Green is Good. This is the Hollywood edition of Green is Good because it’s co-hosted by my great friend, Debbie Levin. She’s the President of the Environmental Media Association. Today we’re so honored to have with us Pascale Coupal-Sikes. She’s from the Green Festivals. We’re going to be talking all about the Green Festivals and what they’re doing across America. Welcome to Green is Good, Pascale. PASCALE COUPAL-SIKES: Thank you. JOHN SHEGERIAN: Pascale, before we get talking about Green Festivals, and for our listeners and viewers out there, you can learn more about Green Festivals by going to greenfestivals.org. Talk a little bit about Pascale. How did you get involved with Green Festivals? What’s the journey of your life leading up to being involved with sustainability? PASCALE COUPAL-SIKES: Sure. I’m born and raised in LA here. I started when I was younger. I did a canoeing trip in Canada, and that sort of exposed me to the wilderness and the environment and sparked that love for me to get involved. JOHN SHEGERIAN: How long have you been doing work with the Green Festivals? PASCALE COUPAL-SIKES: Five years. I started off right when it started in LA. I’ve been directing it for the last three years. It’s a great, great event. JOHN SHEGERIAN: No kidding. Talk a little bit about Green Festival. It’s going to be going across America. It’s going to be coming to D.C. June 5th, 6th, and 7th, LA September 25th, 26th, and 27th, then San Francisco and Portland. People can learn more about it at greenfestivals.org. What can they expect to see if they come to a Green Festivals event? PASCALE COUPAL-SIKES: Green Festival is the nation’s largest and longest running sustainable and green living event. It has a holistic approach. You can see a variety of things from kids’ products, organic food, we have test drives. You can test drive cars. There’s speakers, conferences. JOHN SHEGERIAN: So it’s a whole collaboration of all different types of products all underneath one roof? PASCALE COUPAL-SIKES: Correct. DEBBIE LEVIN: How many people come? PASCALE COUPAL-SIKES: We average about 20,000 to, depending on the city, 30,000 for the three days. JOHN SHEGERIAN: It used to be two days. Now it’s gone to three, right? PASCALE COUPAL-SIKES: It is three days. We have our Friday now, which is our B2B day. We focus on business, green businesses, and have a nice program for Fridays. JOHN SHEGERIAN: What’s the mission? What is Green Festivals trying to accomplish? PASCALE COUPAL-SIKES: Green Festivals is all about providing a marketplace for people where they can learn how to live green, play green, and work green. It brings in consumers, products, businesses together in the community to educate people and to give you access to different products. JOHN SHEGERIAN: Have you ever been to one of these, Debbie? DEBBIE LEVIN: You know, it’s funny. I haven’t, and I obviously get all your information all the time. This is probably very lame, but what is the difference between a Green Festival and the Natural Products Expo? PASCALE COUPAL-SIKES: It has a different focus. I think Green Festivals are more comprehensive, where we have things from cars, there’s yoga that you can do, there is different talks. It’s a different focus. We all have the same goal in mind on sustainability and educating people. JOHN SHEGERIAN: But it’s different brands, big and small. PASCALE COUPAL-SIKES: Definitely. We have big brands, we have small brands. JOHN SHEGERIAN: What kind of car companies are going to be there this year? Do we know? PASCALE COUPAL-SIKES: Yeah, I’m really excited to announce this year we have Volkswagen with us and Audi. They’ll be there. You can do test drives all through the show. DEBBIE LEVIN: Which cars are they launching? PASCALE COUPAL-SIKES: We’re doing a variety between the plug-in electrics and then the hybrids as well. JOHN SHEGERIAN: So you can try a VW. PASCALE COUPAL-SIKES: You can actually get inside and test drive them. DEBBIE LEVIN: How great is it that every single car brand is now either hybrid or plug-in or some alternative? Think about it. JOHN SHEGERIAN: You started this with Toyota. DEBBIE LEVIN: I did, with the Prius. JOHN SHEGERIAN: You had us buy hybrids for our company, and we still own those hybrids. Over 250,000 miles are on each of those hybrids. They still drive up and down the state. Never a problem DEBBIE LEVIN: It’s incredible. I know. We’ve actually been with Toyota for 15 years. We launched the Prius with them. We’re now working on the fuel cell, which is their new technology. It’s incredible because when we were first pitching the Prius, people thought we were crazy. I just so love that it’s like, we’ve got a choice of everything. We’ve got VW, we’ve got Audi, we could have Tesla, we could have GM, we could have Ford. It’s so great. The Cayenne is a hybrid. JOHN SHEGERIAN: No way. So Audi has a hybrid now too? PASCALE COUPAL-SIKES: Yes, we have Audi and Volkswagen there. JOHN SHEGERIAN: Wow, that’s exciting. PASCALE COUPAL-SIKES: It is exciting, especially that attendees can come and actually test drive them and get behind the wheel. JOHN SHEGERIAN: Pascale, I met you last year at the LA one, I believe. Debbie and I are foodies. We’re not gardeners, but we love food. PASCALE COUPAL-SIKES: I can relate to that. JOHN SHEGERIAN: But I love walking around the festival and just trying the different food. The samples are so fun, and they’re good. They’re really yummy. There’s some bigger brands and there’s some smaller brands. You guys have dozens and dozens of food brands there, trying to get people to really know what their food is, and a lot of new products, by the way. Is there anything new in store with regards to food or new sponsors this year that we should be looking out for? PASCALE COUPAL-SIKES: Every year and every show. There’s always something new happening. I’m excited. Again, with the food, I have friends that come, and that’s what they tell me too. They’re like, all these new foods, I never knew this existed. Where can I get it? And then sometimes you can pick it up at the store or then soon it will be coming to stores near you as well. JOHN SHEGERIAN: Debbie Levin and I are with Pascale Coupal-Sikes. You’re the LA Regional Director for Green Festivals. For our listeners out there, to learn more about the Green Festivals, you can go to greenfestivals.org. All the dates and all the cities, it’s New York City, D.C., LA, San Francisco, Portland. They’re coming to a city near you for three days, and it’s so much fun. So go to greenfestivals.org and learn more about it. Talk a little bit, Pascale, about the Green Festival brand award. What does that even mean? Talk about why is that important. PASCALE COUPAL-SIKES: Like we talked about before, we have larger brands, smaller brands. What we like to do is give a chance for these brands to get some recognition at the festival. Before the show, attendees can go online and vote for their favorite brands. They’ll go online, vote for their favorite brand, and then the top five brands will be highlighted at the festival. The winner of the brand award will then get a free booth next year at the festival. JOHN SHEGERIAN: You do this in each city you go to. PASCALE COUPAL-SIKES: Each city we go to. JOHN SHEGERIAN: Speaking of each city, you said each of the festivals are a little different because there are different vendors that come from the local community. What’s the Green Festival community award? PASCALE COUPAL-SIKES: Green Festival community award highlights the non-profits that are around the area. What happens is we can have each non-profit around that knows about it can apply for the grant. They apply online through greenfestivals.org. There’s the five finalists that come. They all get free booths at the festival, and then attendees at the festival will vote for the community award. JOHN SHEGERIAN: There’s one winner for the community award also? PASCALE COUPAL-SIKES: There’s one winner for the community, and they also receive a $5,000 grant as well, the winner. DEBBIE LEVIN: That’s great. I’m curious, what sector do you feel is growing right now? Is it clothing, obviously food has been growing for a long time, is it home? What do you feel that there’s the energy behind right now? PASCALE COUPAL-SIKES: Right now, we’re noticing a lot of growth in our travel at Green Festivals, so eco travel. People are really wanting to know how they can go explore things, but do it in a way that’s sustainable. DEBBIE LEVIN: For trips, you mean? Hotels? PASCALE COUPAL-SIKES: It could be staycations, it could be just going away to an eco village somewhere and supporting those industries. JOHN SHEGERIAN: I never would have thought that. DEBBIE LEVIN; Me neither. PASCALE COUPAL-SIKES: We all like to go on vacation and do stuff. You might as well do that consciously. You can learn about that. JOHN SHEGERIAN: Who shows up at the Green Festival to promote that? Is it an eco tour? PASCALE COUPAL-SIKES: There’s different venues, resorts that will come. There are people talking about where you can go, how you can travel in certain ways like that. You can get around on bicycles. DEBBIE LEVIN: I would have totally thought it would be like the cleaning product world. PASCALE COUPAL-SIKES: Home and garden is also growing as well, and also pets. We love our pets. DEBBIE LEVIN: Yes, we do love our pets. We want sustainable pets. JOHN SHEGERIAN: So organic sleepwear and food for pets? PASCALE COUPAL-SIKES: You know, toys that are natural, food that is organic. DEBBIE LEVIN: Right. I get it. I love my baby. PASCALE COUPAL-SIKES: You want to give them the best, right? JOHN SHEGERIAN: That’s incredible. Ecotourism and eco trips and pets. That’s cool. Talk a little bit about sustainability and Green Festivals. When a Green Festival comes to town for three days, what do you do from a DNA and cultural perspective to be sustainable, in terms of your festival, in terms of the operations of it? PASCALE COUPAL-SIKES: Sure. We aim to be a zero waste event or near zero waste. We use all compostable materials. We ask that our exhibitors don’t use any materials that are throwaway. We actually have a bunch of volunteers over those three days that work and they help alleviate all the resources from the landfills to recycling and to be able to be composted. We’re near zero waste. JOHN SHEGERIAN: From a cultural and DNA perspective, it’s very green. PASCALE COUPAL-SIKES: It is. JOHN SHEGERIAN: That’s awesome. For our listeners and viewers out there that want to attend in one of the great cities, New York City, DC, LA, San Francisco, or Portland, how can they attend the Green Festival? How can they buy tickets? How do they sign up? PASCALE COUPAL-SIKES: Of course. You can go to www.greenfestivals.org and you can purchase tickets online. JOHN SHEGERIAN: How about if you’re an entrepreneur or an eco-preneur and they want to bring their product there? Can they still sign up for a booth and come and showcase them? PASCALE COUPAL-SIKES: Definitely. Our website is pretty comprehensive. You can sign up for your booth. You can apply for the community award. If you’re a non-profit, you can apply on the website. You can get tickets online. JOHN SHEGERIAN: It’s all there. PASCALE COUPAL-SIKES: Yeah, it’s all there. JOHN SHEGERIAN: So it’s greenfestivals.org. PASCALE COUPAL-SIKES: Correct. JOHN SHEGERIAN: Wow. Pascale, thank you for coming in today and sharing the story of Green Festivals. We’re going to have you back later this year to continue telling the story of what’s going on and give some great highlights of what’s happened already at this year’s Green Festivals. For Debbie Levin and myself, we’ve had a long day today at the SLS Hotel in Beverly Hills. We thank you for hosting us here at Green is Good. Pascale Coupal-Sikes, you are truly living proof that green is good. PASCALE COUPAL-SIKES: Thank you.