I can be Greener
Here’s another awesome guest post by a Living Large community member, Heather Larson. It was inspired by a comment someone made to Heather on another post about how lucky she is to live in the very green state of Washington. If you’re headed to Washington, or just love to read about it, Heather also writes a fantastic blog, Discover Washington State. I still have room for a few more guest posts. Anyone? firstname.lastname@example.org
When Kerri asked me to write a blog post about being green, I felt a little embarrassed. Although I write about green building and I live in the Evergreen State (Washington), which is extremely eco-friendly, I don’t do much myself to save the planet. I use CFL bulbs when I can, I started a compost bin in the kitchen and then didn’t know what to do with it and I am growing a small crop of vegetables this year. But my husband, Bob, leaves all the lights on, runs the water constantly while rinsing the dishes or brushing his teeth and pretty much thinks green living is a bunch of hooey.
I knew I could do more than I’m currently doing that wouldn’t cost a great deal or be time consuming so I drove to the landfill (no telltale aroma of Tacoma there) to see the City of Tacoma’s EnviroHouse. This little gem measures 820 square feet and was built to illustrate just how green a home can be.
My first ah-ha moment struck while perusing the beautiful landscaping. The city used all native and adapted plants. Did you know that you only usually need to water these two categories of plants until they are established – between two and three years. Then you never have to worry about watering them again. I’ve been watering my annuals twice a day when it’s hot. If I switched to native plants, that’s more time to watch soaps. Janda, the lady working at the house, was kind enough to print off a list for me of all the plants used in the EnviroHouse landscaping. Alert the nursery, I’m on my way.
In the garden, all kinds of composting bins were displayed. There I learned from one of the signs that you can compost pet waste in a system called vermicomposting. We have two dogs so that would be a godsend especially for the teen that mows our lawn.
I did get into the house finally where every item and system had a sign describing what it was and what it did – from the organic cotton bath towels to the one-gallon-per-flush toilet to the recycled art to the counter in the bathroom made of paper. Flyers, pamphlets and even recipe cards lined the walls and counters. I snatched the recipe card for a formula using peppermint oil that kills ants. The carpenter ants at our house will be saying, “Sayonara” soon.
You can read more about the EnviroHouse on their link, but the energy, light and water systems are totally environmentally-friendly and the building materials were all either recyclable or sustainable.
To make my visit even more mind-blowing, I came away with a swag bag filled with two CFL bulbs, a five-minute shower timer and a plastic bottle to hold a green all-purpose cleaner with the recipe for same on the side of the bottle.
What does your city or town do to educate its residents about going “green”? Encourage them to develop a sustainable landscape showplace, give away CFL bulbs, flow restrictors, shower timers or recipes to make your own cleaners. Point to Tacoma, Washington, and ask how they can duplicate just a small part of the EnviroHouse. Do they offer classes or tours? I first read about the EnviroHouse in the newsletter that comes with our power bill. Do you read yours?