Highlights from the 2023 Green Living Expo and EcoSummit

The Green Living Expo and EcoSummit may have been the largest environmental event series ever organized on the Suncoast with a full week of activities at The Bay Park, Sarasota Municipal Auditorium, and the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall in Sarasota, Florida.

Nearly 2,000 people from the community attended the events, which focused on future-forward innovations for recharging the environment and reducing our impacts – crucial to sustaining our coastal community’s environment-based quality of life.

Below are additional details on the events and what attendees took away from them. If you missed it this year, plan on attending the 19th Annual on Nov. 7, 2024! Sign up for our eNewsletter so you don’t miss future announcements.

Green Living Expo

Scenes from the 2023 Green Living Expo. Exhibitors, attendees, demos, and products.
[CREDIT: Science and Environment Council]
The events started Dec. 2-3 with the Green Living Expo that was essentially a Home Show showcasing the many green businesses, clean technology companies, and non-profits in our community. Thirty-five organizations filled the Municipal Auditorium and supported at least 560 attendees through interactive activities, technical support, and product demonstrations. From roofs and windows, to vehicles, landscaping, and lighting, residents learned how to save money and improve their homes, while protecting water and air quality and wildlife in our region. Participating companies commented that attendees were more engaged than typical Home Shows, helping identify new customers, projects, and connections to grow our green economy.

Solutions Cinema

One of the features that made this event so unique was our curated Solutions Cinema. The cinema presented more than 50 videos filled with sustainability solutions. Wireless headsets were provided to attendees that allowed them to control their own volume and tune in whenever they’d like. It was a one-of-a-kind, immersive audio-visual experience that our attendees loved!


Meet our exhibitors logo graphic that depicts the Green Living Expo 35 exhibitors with a wide range of green solutions for energy conservation, waste reduction, water protection, local food, and nature conservation.
[CREDIT: UF/IFAS Extension Sarasota County]
From home Florida Friendly Landscaping to drip irrigation, from solar to roofing to windows, from locally grown produce to wildlife friendly outdoor lighting, the Green Living Expo had it all!

The show featured approximately 35 exhibitors with a wide range of green solutions for energy conservation, waste reduction, water protection, local food, and nature conservation.


The EcoSummit kicked off the evening of Dec. 4, with a film screening of 2040 at The  Bay with high attendance – setting a positive, solutions-oriented tone for the events. Its film maker was keynote speaker at the Summit the morning of Dec. 5.

The EcoSummit filled the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall on Dec. 5 and 6. Roughly 500 people attended the summit, where sessions focused on the economic connection to environmental quality, natural areas protection, water quality, wildlife monitoring and protections, waste reduction, energy savings, and much more.

On the evening of Dec. 5, over 800 people attended an author event called “Florida Stories” where Carl Hiaasen, Craig Pittman, and Dr. Randy Wells told stories of Florida’s relationship with its wildlife and wild lands.


The summit offered a new sort of conference experience by bringing Americana singer songwriter Karen Jonas and her band. They weaved dazzling threads of their dreamy Alt-Country music through the tapestry of stories over the two days. The audience loved her music, and it made the event livelier and more entertaining.

Attendee comments

[CREDIT: Science and Environment Council]
Here are some examples of what attendees have shared with us:

  • “This was an excellent show!! I enjoyed speaking to every vendor/ participating organization!!”
  • “I very much enjoyed it, Alia. Please hold one of every year, it is so educational and inspiring for so many people here.”
  • “I thoroughly enjoyed the Green Living Expo and applaud you and IFAS for organizing it. It looked like you had a lot of people attend and get involved at different booths — terrific!”
  • “Thank you for a wonderful expo. It was such a wonderful opportunity to learn of all the good works in our community and beyond.”
  • “This was by far the most successful tabling event we have been at since I came on board in 2021. We had over 70 people sign up for our newsletter. We gained contacts for overabundant fruit trees and potential new volunteers for gleaning. Our intention for tabling is organization and mission awareness, volunteer interest, and potential donors and this was perfect for us.”
  • “I have never felt so connected to my community and so aware of the nitty gritty of protecting our local environment. It was one of the most useful and energizing eco-focused events I attended in 2023. I would be interested in having speakers or panelists with more
    [CREDIT: Science and Environment Council]
    initiatives that the audience can be involved in, more community-based organizations with volunteer opportunities. I would also value more diversity in the speakers (age, race, ability, gender expression) in the future and the issue of environmental justice to be woven into the programming.”
  • “The EcoSummit was uplifting. I learned a lot. Excellent coverage of a variety of organizations. Terrific venue, food, stage background. Loved the music and large names on name tags.”
  • “The team that planned and organized this event put their heart and soul into it, and that combined with their skills for what they do make for truly amazing experience for the participants leading to outcomes that have lasting positive benefits for our community.”

Event Sustainability features

We try to be as sustainable as we can and minimize our impact when organizing our events. Here are some environmental stewardship considerations we integrated in planning the Expo and EcoSummit:

Tracie Troxler with the nonprofit Sunshine Community Compost collecting and sorting food waste at the EcoSummit.
[CREDIT: Science and Environment Council]
  • The food served included locally sourced items, from Worden Farm and other local vendors. There were vegetarian and vegan options, and the food was supplied by a local Sarasota County Green Business Partner.
  • The tableware was biodegradable and compostable or reusable.
  • All food waste and food service items were composted.
  • While we did our best to reduce the impact of the event itself, we also secured a donation of Carbon Credits for 100 metric tons of Carbon dioxide equivalent to triple offset the EcoSummit. Thank you to Florida Power and Light for that donation.

See you next time!

Let’s keep the conversation going! Make sure to save the date for our  Sustainable Communities Workshop on Nov. 7, 2024!


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Posted: December 18, 2023

Category: Conservation
Tags: Events, Pgm_Sustain, SCW, Speaker, Sustainability, Sustainable Communities Workshop

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