Green Expo held in St. Pete Beach
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03/31/09 Andrea Lypka
WMNF Drive-Time News Tuesday | Listen to this entire show:

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The city of St. Pete Beach hosted the first Suncoast Green Wave Expo on March 29 at the St. Pete Beach Community Center.

The goal of the event was to support public and private efforts to build a more sustainable coastal community, says Jared Cobb, the management intern at St. Pete Beach. The expo featured eco-friendly products, services, and practices for residents and businesses.

A business that got creative and profitable during economic hardships was Neptune Society with a new service: green underwater burial. Suzan Stockton, a representative of this company, sells underwater resting plots in the world's largest artificial reef-cemetery which is a replica of the lost city of Atlantis. Since 2007, the world’s first underwater grave site is located near South Beach in 45 feet of water and it covers 16 acres of the Atlantic Ocean floor.

The ashes are molded into the artificial structures which take the form of lions, starfish, and columns. Stockton says that this type of burial is associated with life because it perpetuates active growth of marine life. “Before this project there was no marine life in that area. And now we have got 35 different species of fish,” Stockton says.

The memorial park has created new jobs because the company employs people to make the reefs and to transport them below ground. She says that the ecological cemetery is also a laboratory for marine biologists and attracts many divers and tourists on glass bottom boats.

Volunteers of a non-profit organization present at the event, the Sierra Club, informed the audience about responsible landscaping, including drought resistant, low maintenance landscape while benefiting the environment. Volunteer Kathy Moore hopes that Pinellas County will adopt St Petersburg’s fertilizer management ordinance that bans the use of nitrogen fertilizer products in the rainy season, between June 1 and Sept. 30.

“If the new ordinance will be adopted, from St. Petersburg to Naples we are going to have these ordinances in place which is going to help red tide blooms,” she says.

Moore says that red tide affects the coastal communities’ marine life, economy and tourism. Red Tide became the number one killer of manatees in the state. It also harms the health of coastal residents. “There is scientific documentation now that the nitrogen base in the fertilizers when it runs off into our waterways, the algae will it and create a toxic tide bloom,” she says.

St. Pete Beach plans to organize the green expo every year to promote green technology and businesses and to inform local communities to lead healthier and more sustainable lives. Website: http://www.neptunesociety.com/

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