How much copper is there in a mobile phone? Which type of beans should you buy? Paper or plastic?
With 120 stands organised into a dozen categories, the fourth annual Natur fair in Basel aims to help visitors answer these questions and more. The fair, which runs until Sunday, showcases products and projects that emphasise sustainable living.
For Our Future is the motto of the green lifestyle event, which offers opportunities to stock up on organic food, cosmetics, and fair-trade textiles.
One of the more popular attractions is a shopping game, where visitors need to decide which products make the most sense in terms of sustainability. As the main sponsor of the Natur event, the Coop supermarket chain urges consumers to leave smaller carbon footprints.
Another highlight is Green Fashion Switzerland, now in its second year. There are 18 labels involved this time, most of them Swiss. Together they put on three professionally-choreographed fashion shows per day.
"We want to show our customers that sustainable fashion is stylish and creative," says Emanuel Büchlin, Coop's purchasing manager for textiles. With over four million items sold in 2008, Coop's Naturaline is one of the world's leading labels for organic cotton textiles.
At the premiere on Thursday, Switcher founder Robin Cornelius modelled a yellow version of his label's latest T-shirt.
"This is the cleanest T-shirt in the world. Well, it's the most responsible, anyway," says Cornelius of the Bao T-shirt, made of certified fair-trade and organic cotton. Available in 38 colours, the shirt also compensates for CO2 emissions.
"Compensating is good, but reducing is better," notes Cornelius.
Meanwhile, the Faszinatur film festival educates and entertains with flicks on lynx, wolves, hippos and beavers. Outside the event hall, visitors can get up close and personal with the four-legged friends at the petting zoo and the Pro Specie Rara exhibit, which features exotic local species like wild pigs and mountain goats.
The Natur fair started with a conference featuring a number of scientists, politicians and business people. This year's theme was The Nature of Energy – the Energy of Nature.
Switzerland could easily run on 100 per cent renewable energy, according to a study presented by keynote speaker and parliamentarian Rudolf Rechsteiner.
"If you calculate the technical potential of wind, sun and geothermal energy, it would be possible to generate 120 times more electricity than Switzerland actually needs," says Rechsteiner, calling for increased government support for renewable energy. The parliamentarian from Basel says that the nuclear energy lobby is too strong.
However, even environmentalists can be leery of green energy. In a panel discussion Raimund Rodewald of a Foundation for Landscape Protection expressed reservations about windmill parks and emphasised the importance of saving energy to begin with.
Visitors will have plenty of opportunities to discuss these issues and more over the course of the weekend. The Natur fair will welcome a number of special guests, including experts on electric mobility, organic food and wildlife.
The event is expected to draw more than 40,000 visitors over four days.
swissinfo, Susan Vogel-Misicka in Basel
5,000 square metres
120 exhibitor stands, with 12 categories:
Food & drink
Home & garden
Fair & organic trade
Research & knowledge
Energy & climate
Garbage & recycling