Wednesday, June 28, 2006

sustainable design & eco-friendly living

I watched a re-run of oprah today about environmentalism and how that impacts the earth and our lives. I have a lot of training in "green" or sustainable design -- so it was interesting to see this idea presented to the general public who tend to know little about this growing sector of design and architecture. People often feel overwhelmed when they hear about all the things you "should" do to be environmentally conscience. I think this is a mis-guided view that makes it seem impossible to do anything in our own little families, homes & lives. We all impact the environment, will you choose to have positive or negative impact? Here are some really simple things you can do to improve your home right now:

Use compact flourescent light bulbs, these are available at Target, etc. and Costco. They're a little more expensive, but I've yet to have one burn out on me, and I've had them for 3 years. Costco sells them in packs of 9-12 for really cheap!

Second, when you replace/buy appliances always buy Energy Star certified appliances, not only will this be better for the environment but they will help your pocketbook too! The same goes for low-water usage toilets.

When you paint, use low-VOC paints, which may be noted as eco-friendly paints. Benjamin Moore is a strong proponent of these, but most companies now have these types of paints. What low-VOC means is it gives off less or no gases, which is good for air-quality & for your health.

When you buy new materials for your home, be it flooring, fabrics, lumber, countertops, etc.. look for recyled content, or the ability to recylce is after use. Carpets are generally bad for the environment, there's so much waste associated with it, plus the toxins from the adhesive. If you buy carpet, consider buying Masland carpet, that's available with an eco-backing that avoids an adhesive. Also, see if your carpet can be recylcled.

These are some simple things for your home as far as design is concerned, but obviously there are more ways, hybrid cards, recycled toilet paper, use a compost for food waste, organically grown food (avoids chemicals that are bad for the environment), the list goes on and on. I encourage you to do some research and see what you can do to improve the environment. Being an environmentalist certainly does not mean being a granola loving, hippie tree-hugger, it just means you care about our earth & the people around you!

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