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Green Expo: Turning Elephant Poop into Paper

The solar-powered Orange County Green Expo showcases luxury electric vehicles, whale-tail-shaped tortilla chips and other eco-friendly items.

Encased in a heart-shaped box, sheets of yellow paper with little green specks were displayed prominently at the buygreen.com booth.

They originated from an elephant, or more precisely the animal’s excrement, before being repurposed into decorative gifts called Ellie Pooh Paper.

“The Ellie Pooh paper is pretty unique,” said Nicole Roach of buygreen.com, which aims to become the Amazon.com of green products. “It is definitely a big seller.”

Ellie Pooh Paper was one of hundreds of items -- from whale tail tortilla chips to a luxury electric car -- on display during Thursday’s Orange County Green Expo in Santa Ana.

While larger companies like Home Depot, Whole Foods, Southern California Edison and Google helped sponsor the event, smaller vendors such as San Clemente-based Sili Squeeze promoted and sold their own green items.

Kristin Ahmer, owner and creator of Sili Squeeze, said she grew tired of the mess her son would make with store-bought squeeze juice boxes, so she decided to create her own. Although it works for a variety of liquids, Ahmer said she loves using the product for her homemade organic baby food purees. Since its launch in August, the company has made nearly $120,000.

With reusable bags and free vegetable plants in hand—courtesy of Google—more than 3,000 guests browsed the expo's 100 vendor booths, student art walk and educational exhibits.

Artist and Orange County native Wyland was the grand marshal for this year’s event, which focused on the generation that’s “going to save the world.” About 500 students from elementary schools around Orange County visited the expo, which featured a variety of educational presentations and shows.

Big MaMa Earth, a live walk-around character, performed several shows that focused on the eco-friendly movement. Next door was the Wyland Foundation’s Mobile Learning Experience—a 1,000-square-foot trailer that included interactive science exhibits, computer models and a 4-D theater that took kids on a journey from the perspective of a water droplet.

Through solar power and the occasional battery backups, the Eco Boom trailer powered the entire event. The company, which focuses on providing solar energy for large entertainment events and venues, walked students through the solar power process.

“Kids of this generation are the eco-boomers,” said Jeff Murrell, owner of Eco Boom. “People moreso now than ever before need to teach kids how they can change the future.”

Wyland spoke to his “youth ambassadors of the planet” about conservation and how they can be water-wise every day. He said the students impressed him with their knowledge of recycling and conservation. He encouraged them to “take ownership of our water planet.”

The Wyland Foundation, which recently finished its National Mayor’s Challenge for Water Conservation, will be making a slight change to next year's challenge. Wyland announced at the expo that kids around the nation will spearhead the challenge in 2013.

“Without blue there’s no green,” he said.

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Check out Patch on Saturday for a slideshow from the Green Expo Art Walk.

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