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Earth Day festival highlights common — and surprising — ways to be green

St. Louis’s annual Earth Day festival attracted vendors of all stripes and sizes on Sunday, with a few offering sustainable options that go beyond the beaten path.

There was a river cleanup crew and booths highlighting recycling and water conservation.

Included in the row of green dining choices was an organic IPA that drew a steady stream of customers to the Schlafly booth from the time the festival opened at 10 a.m.

And for those who want to be just as environmentally friendly in death as they are in life, the Bellefontaine Cemetery highlighted its green burial option.

“There’s no embalming. There’s no metal casket, no outer container or a vault. And the person is buried in a wicker casket or shroud, or we have some wooden boxes that have no metal,” said Bellefontaine’s Richard Lay. “It’s designed to go back to the earth.”

People can also choose for their graves to be dug by hand so no fossil fuels have to be used.

Lay said green burials are a throwback to the way things used to be. Bellefountaine started doing green burials again in 2013.

“There’s a lot of interest and we’re doing more and more all the time,” said Lay.

Bellefountaine Cemetery handed out wildflower seeds, and many vendors gave away plants. The free plants were a draw for both LaTonya Wilson and Tonia Buncher, although Wilson first took her kids rock climbing.

“The kids really enjoy doing the Upper Limits rock climbing, and I usually do come out to get some plants,” said Wilson. “We come out every year.”

Tonia Buncher brought her three dogs along to the festival, and said she enjoys going to a pet-friendly event.

“I like to see all the pet places, I like to see all the plants, the yoga and all the different things like that. And I got a free tree,” Buncher said, adding that she plans to plant the river birch in her Jefferson County yard as soon as she gets home.

Follow Camille Phillips on Twitter: @cmpcamille.