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? fivecoat@ozarkmountains.com

A very green kitchen

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.

Native plants adorn the outside

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?

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6 Responses

  1. Kathleen Winn says:

    A local brewing company in Kansas City, realizing their bottles were contributing mountains of glass to landfills (a significant number of which came from my husband. 🙂 took it upon themselves to set up their own glass recycling program and it has now gone city wide. Finding a place to recycle glass used to be a serious hassle and usually involved a drive to somewhere distant. Now it is as simple as taking bottles along to the grocery store where there is a collection bin for glass. Ripple Glass Recycling was the result of a local business, Boulevard Beer, taking responsibility for their own contribution to landfills, then doing something about it. I think it’s as important to patronize businesses that go green, as it is to practice green habits yourself. Kudos to Boulevard Beer and all other businesses who make it easy to be green!

    • kerri says:

      That’s great, Kathy! I lived through the “glass” era and the era when they quit taking glass at the recycling centers in Kansas City, so I’m happy there is once again an opportunity to take glass to have it recycled again. I was thinking of this here just last night as I threw away our glass beer bottles (we were literally drowning our sorrows here). Now KC has to get on the wagon to make light rail available to the great sprawl it has created.

  2. Alexandra says:

    Great post! Must be hard to have a husband who drags his feet on this. Here on the Outer Cape, the other side of the country, I live in Wellfleet and am trying to take our whole town green and non-toxic. I know this is a tall order, but I am doing it under the aegis of our Economic Development Commission. My sub-committee will make a recommendation to the EDC and they will hopefully endorse it and do the same to our Selectmen. I wish there were some guidelines somewhere, so we all did not have to make it up as we went along … So far, the recycling is in place. There’s a lot of work to do, but everyone should be making similar attempts across the country, don’t you think?

    • kerri says:

      You do a fantastic job, Alexandra, and yes, I think we should all be more aware of what our local governments are doing (or not) and get involved. They will only act when they see the voters taking it seriously.

  3. Kerri, I wish we could get our small town mayors to start a recycling area or provide information on how we all could help clean up along our Scenic Hwy 178.

    • kerri says:

      Mary, Your area is more suburban than mine, so I’m not sure how your trash is collected. We have to either take it to the transfer station in Yellville or take it to the VFD on our mountain. Either way, we do have a recycling program. Not sure where our trash goes – if it is in Mountain Home or Marion County – but you should look into that. You may not have curbside pick up, but you can take newspapers, magazines, plastics and cans someplace around here. As for clean up on 178, sounds like a great idea, where do I sign up? 🙂 You can definitely organize without the government.