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What's new at the Eco Experience at the Minnesota State Fair?

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Getting ready for the seventh year at the Minnesota State Fair, the Eco Experience is making improvements. Every area of the exhibit has added new components to get Minnesotans to take action in their everyday lives.

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Energy Solutions Home: This brand new component of the Eco Experience showcases real solutions for your home. Saving energy will not only save you money but makes a difference in the air we breathe and the water quality in our communities.

The Energy Solutions Home includes these features:

• Home performance. How much energy does your home use and what is the environmental impact of a typical Minnesota home? Check out this interactive display. See equipment like blower doors, infared cameras, and other advanced energy audit equipment.

• Home lighting. Do you become overwhelmed when you're shopping the lighting aisle? Learn how to choose exactly what you need for many types of rooms.

• Home envelope- Have you experienced ice dams? Learn how to seal and insulate your home to prevent them in this interactive display showing all types of insulating and sealing issues.

• Saving water. See the latest info on low-flow fixtures, faucets, showerheads and plumbing fixtures. Saving water saves you money

• Green materials. Check out the latest finishes, cabinets, high-efficiency appliances and Minnesota-made products.

• Renewables. Have you considered solar or wind power for your home? See the latest products and meet professionals who can answer questions on the best options and performance of renewables for your home.

• Landscaping. Learn how to implement things like rain barrels, pollinator gardens, drip irrigation, and permeable pavers. Check out our beautiful but eco-friendly mini gardens.

• Paying for it. Learn how to pay for your home improvements through affordable financing and loan programs.

In the Eco-experience's water area, these new exhibits will be popular:

• The bugs that live in our waters. Insects tell us a lot about the health of our lakes and streams. There will be dozens of specimens to look at and magnifiers to put them on the big screen in this hands-on exhibit. See which insects indicate a clean lake.

• Tap water. Come refill your reusable bottle at a free drinking fountain located next to the water area.

• Stream table. This exhibit will be a favorite with the kids. Turn on the water and your own model stream in a sandbox. You can see how plants shape a stream in this hands-on exhibit. A favorite with the kids!

• Deicing salt- What happens to all the salt that is applied to icy sidewalks and roads? As it turns out, it ends up in Minnesota's waters. Fish, insects and plants don't tolerate salty water well, but the salt is nearly impossible to remove. Learn what you can do to help.

Reduce, reuse, recycle. Confused about plastic recycling? From grocery bags to rubber ducks, find out what you need to know recycle your plastic.

Did you know over 1.4 billion water and pop bottles are purchased each year in Minnesota? Shockingly, only 24 percent are recycled.

Wonder where all your plastic bottles that are recycled go? Stroll through the Bottle Buyology exhibit to learn how you can help reduce your plastic footprint, recycle more, and support Minnesota jobs. On your way, you will pass through a 30-foot-long hallway covered with 15,600 #1 plastic bottles.

Kick gas: Basic bicycle maintenance demonstrations which cover safety checks, tire changing, helmet fit, and more will be given from noon to 4 p.m. daily. Pedal Minnesota will have great info to help you get biking all over the state.

Climate change: Minnesotans Making a Difference. This interactive display will show visitors what real people, schools and businesses across the state are doing to reduce energy consumption and greenhouse gases. Check out videos, a real ice core model and a large State of Minnesota display that shows specific examples.

Take a break in and check the free activities available for children in the kids area.

Every Action Matters! Kids big and small can put together their own puzzle of easy actions they can take to reduce greenhouse gases. Once put together, they will place a piece of paper over the puzzle and rub it with crayons, giving them a something they can take home to remind them of simple actions they can take to lessen their impact on the planet.

New in the Healthy Local Food Area will be the Growing Strong: How Farmers Markets Nourish People, Communities and the Planet exhibit. This exhibit celebrates the many ways that farmers markets serve Minnesota communities. While supporting renewed interest in sustainable farming and local food, farmers markets help fill a growing desire to make our communities more connected, livable and vibrant. Through a combination of photomurals and first-person storytelling, visitors will explore the importance of farmers markets both now and throughout history.

At the vehicles display, you can see the latest and greatest in fuel efficiency, electric vehicles, and how you can connect your vehicle to solar. Lots of demonstrations and experts to answer your questions.

Daily themes are listed on the Eco Experience website, and include some fun, new topics, such as recycled fashion. There will also be daily food demos by chefs, farms and companies in the Healthy Local Food Area. The Sustainability Stage will feature experts from all over the state who will share their knowledge with you for free.

About the Eco Experience: A partnership between the Minnesota State Fair, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, and over 150 organizations and businesses across the state, the Eco Experience has become the second most popular exhibit at the fair. The Eco Experience is the largest environmental event of its kind, nationally, in the last two decades. Since 2006, almost 2.5 million visitors have attended the 25,000-square-foot exhibit to learn more about clean air and water, saving energy, climate change, recycling, healthy local food, transportation, green building and remodeling, and other ways to lead more eco-friendly lives. Look for more information on www.ecoexperience.org

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