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Green Design

Monday, April 22nd, 2013

Happy Earth Day!

Becky

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Happy Earth Day everyone! What will you do for the planet today? What better time than the present to change a habit or two? Here are some suggestions that are really easy to incorporate, and over time, they make a big difference.

1. Don’t run the dishwasher or washing machine until it’s chock full. Try to avoid rinsing your dishes with running water before loading them up; whether or not you want Fido to take care of business is up to you!

2. Reuse your water. Whether it’s a pet bowl you’re cleaning out, an ice cube you dropped on the floor or that stagnant half-glass from next to the bed, always think before pouring water down the drain. Use it on a plant indoors or out. Same goes for shower water that’s heating up – collect it with a bucket.

3. Cut the paper towel and napkin habit. Use old t-shirts and other rags for cleaning, and cloth napkins for dining.

4. Beware the energy vampires. Your computer does not need to run 24/7 and your phone doesn’t need to be charging for 12 hours straight. The coffee pot clock is sucking energy; after you’re done with your brew, unplug the coffee machine.

5. Speaking of coffee, banish the paper and styrofoam cups. Get a reusable cup that you can take to the coffee shop for refilling (most of these joints are actually shilling them right in their impulse buy area for convenience).

6. Before you put anything in the trash, think about  how else it could be reused, donated or recycled. Check your local recycling information web page. You may find there are many more items you could be recycling that you’re not, special days for bulk item and yard clipping pick ups and drop offs for electronics. They may also be offering up larger bins. Check Earth911 for more ways to recycle, upcycle and reuse.

7. Bring your own bags!!! If you are not doing this yet, you have no excuse. I’ve wound up with so many different giveaway bags I have started giving them back. Do make sure to keep the bag clean when you use it for food; I recommend a bag that is coated or machine washable as you will want to wash bags you use for food regularly.

8. Banish things with “disposable” on the label. Whether it’s a pen, a cleaning wipe, batteries or an eraser, buy things that are refillable and can be used for decades to reduce waste.

9. Stop the flow of junk mail. Go to the Federal Trade Commission’s site to find out how.

10. Shop for sustainable products. Whether it’s wood that’s rapidly renewable or sustainably harvested for construction, items that flat ship, produce that’s harvested locally, there are ways to rethink the way you shop. If you want to get started here, here’s our selection of sustainable goods.

What are you doing to celebrate Earth today? Let us know in the comments section!

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Tuesday, December 11th, 2012

Christmas Trees for Tree Huggers

Becky

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Recently, a friend posted this on Facebook:

just curious to know why environmentally conscious people buy real Christmas trees? am i missing something?

I think she was; surely the carbon footprint of manufacturing, shipping and eventually disposing of fake trees is worse for the environment than tree farms, where trees are grown as crops, right? It’s ain’t exactly clear-cropping trees off a mountain (the one complaint I found about these farms is that some use pesticides, otherwise, what’s not to love about them?). Give us your two cents in the comments section.

However, there are some other solutions that should really satisfy the tree-hugging crowd either way; those that upcycle materials like bottles, cans and even over in Belgium, those throwaway extra pieces of china that no longer match anything. Here’s a peek at some very clever tree reuse projects.

1. Design Boom recently posted a 30′ -high tree in Brussels, Belgium, composed of  over 5,000 donated pieces of blue and white china. The tree is by the design firm mooz and it is super cool:

2. Over on Flickr, another lovely tree is made of bottles was beautifully shot by Flickr member gdanny:

found via rubyreusable

3. Here’s a living room tree made out of just-the-right shade of green glass bottles:

4. This outdoor beer can version could bring in a pretty penny at the metal scrap yard:

3 and 4 have been labeled “redneck Christmas trees.” I think we can come up with a much nicer name than that, though it’s eluding me at the moment, because “beer hugger tree” is not a great tagline. Let me know if you come up with a better name for them in the comments section!

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Tuesday, June 26th, 2012

New Fun Home Design Forum: Meet HomeTalk

Becky

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Edward Zitron recently contacted me to ask if we’d be interested in sharing information about HomeTalk with you. HomeTalk is a community of homeowners, renters and home improvement pros who enjoy sharing ideas and advice about home and gardening. After checking it out, I said mos def (just kidding, I know I can’t get away with “mos def” no matter how many episodes of The Wire I have memorized, but I did say yes) and asked him if he would be willing to write us up a little guest post to give you all a taste of what HomeTalk is all about. Take it away Edward! -Becky

Hometalk is a great community to learn from; you can ask questions of and interact with hundreds of thousands of homeowners. You can share and be inspired by projects going on throughout the country in everything from roofing to gardening to upcycling. Speaking of upcycling, HomeTalk’s community boards have been full of members sharing how they’ve turned other peoples’ trash into their own treasures lately. Here are three fun examples.

Inspired by Donna from Funky Junk Interiors, HomeTalk member Laura (of The Ironstone Nest blog) crafted the cool and quirky outdoor sofa from 4x4s, 3x3s and a few pallets:

HomeTalk member Deb B shared “So I have finally run out of clay pots and have moved on to the next best thing. Coffee cans, soup cans, paint cans, teapots, chandelier parts and even anchovy cans for the feet. Meet my newest garden helper:”

Don’t kick yourself for knocking over that clay pot last week, upcycle it like HomeTalk member Cith did!

The best aspect of this project is that it’s completely free; turn the pot cracked-side down in your planting bed and watch as your old flowers take on new life. A similar look can be achieved on a larger scale by turning an old bathtub on its side and filling it with your favorite bulbs and annuals.

Oftentimes, the best upcycling ideas come from simply visualizing an everyday item in a new way. So the next time you go to throw out that used mayonnaise jar, just remember, you can easily make an outdoor light, a terrarium or a hurricane out of it.


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Thursday, June 21st, 2012

This Week’s Link Love: Reclaiming, Recycling and Preservation

Becky

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Hi Everyone! What have you been clickin’ this week? I have to admit I’ve gotten lazy; so many of the people I follow on Facebook post such cool things that it’s become my new blog reader. I think I get about half of my favorite links from my FB peeps! Here are five of the best:

I’ve seen plastic water bottles turned into a lot of interesting things over the past few years, but these huge fish on the beach in Rio are the coolest.

These 8-16 story high trees in Singapore are so much cool than those cell phone towers that are supposed to blend in as pine trees but are oddly 40 feet higher than the treeline. These Supertrees collect and “generate solar power, collect rainwater, and act as ventilation ducts for plant conservatories beneath them.”  More on discovery.com.

Now that’s a good present! Sculptor and avid dumpster diver Matt Buttrill crafted this yoga studio for his wife from 75% recycled materials, including the beautiful windows. Check out Popular Mechanics’ slideshow of 10 Super-Green Sheds.

The Herculean restoration of Mies van de Rohe’s Villa Tugendhat in Brno, Czech Republic is very inspiring. If someone had put the slideshow on fast forward and paused at the unexpected curves in the house, I woud have sworn it was a Corb villa. Check out the full story and slideshow on Wallpaper* magazine’s site. If you can’t make it to Moravia, check out the exhibition in London this summer.

What did you enjoy looking at/reading about online this week? Please share links in the comments section.

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Friday, April 13th, 2012

What We’re Clicking On this Friday the 13th

Becky

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photo via Monticello.org

Happy Friday the 13th everyone! It’s also Thomas Jefferson’s birthday, so I thought I’d show a little Monticello love. If you cannot get to Charlottesville (I highly recommend a trip, especially during springtime), you can take a cool virtual tour of Jefferson’s former home on the Monticello website.

photo via Ludlow Group Blog

I thought it would be appropriate to include a little horror movie architecture on Friday the 13th (though I couldn’t find any from any of the 8 million Friday the 13th movies). Here’s a post at the Ludlow Group Blog where you can see the Psycho House and the Amityville Horror house.

photo by Sergio Pirrone, via Inhabitat

Now, let’s get away from horror films and move onto thinking about something more positive, Earth Day. I popped on over to inhabitat to catch up with all of their posts and particularly loved this school in Santiago, Chili, designed by LAND Arquitectos. The bright green structures have bright white interiors (pop on over to inhabitat to check out the full slideshow) and were crafted with at a low cost with local sustainable materials.

photo by moi

Wondering how to celebrate Earth Day (it’s on April 22, that’s next Sunday)? Check out a great list of ideas over at EnviroLink, from simple things like having a clean up or planting a tree to stenciling storm drains, from giving out Environmental Hero Awards to having a Dirty Sock Contest (say what? You’ll have to go to EnviroLink for more information!)

What have you enjoyed clicking on this week? Please share with us in the comments section!

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