Thursday, April 17, 2008

It Ain't Easy Being Green

This magazine junkie has noticed that for the past 3 or four months, each of my home magazines has had a “green issue.” The magazines are trying to out-green one another by showcasing green remodels and products. I am glad that in our renovation-crazed culture, people have started to look for ways to be friendlier to the environment. At our house, we use compact fluorescent bulbs, low VOC paints, Clorox Green Works cleaning products and, of course, we recycle. I’m not too impressed when these magazines espouse ripping out perfectly good home features and replacing them with environmentally superior ones. Articles showcase $4,000 organic couches, but they never seem to point out that perhaps keeping an old couch out of the landfill for 10 more years by throwing a slipcover on it might be a good alternative.

I know this isn’t a design blog, but I am big into tweaking my house décor. As a stay at home mom, I have had plenty of opportunities to stare at the walls and dream up ways to make changes. When something irks me about my house, it grates on me until I can’t seem to let it go. My husband, on the other hand, can breeze in and not even bat an eye at our groovy 70’s swirly-textured ceiling! I just don’t get that.

Our powder room has an ugly oak vanity cabinet, so-so lighting and a stained vinyl floor. The problem is, I know the previous owner put this stuff in only about 6 or 7 years ago. To rip it out and start again would be purely cosmetic. My magazines would lead me to believe that replacing them, as long as I do it with environmentally friendly products, would be the best thing.

But I think my grandparents’ generation would have proceeded in an entirely different manner. Their idea of “going green” was to hang on to stuff. This could mean keeping the same kitchen cabinets for 40 years or leaving a vintage bathroom intact. These are the same people who knew not to squander aluminum foil and who always had a giant ball of twine at the ready for any tying needs. My grandma understood the value of “cottage style” before most others, realizing that if you covered up almost any piece of furniture with a soft white paint, you could get a fresh new look without tossing anything out.

I don’t mean to sound judgmental when I talk about renovation, because as I sit here next to the offending powder room, I’m itching to surf the web for a new pedestal sink! I just want to give kudos to the one voice of reason I found in my latest issues of Metropolitan Home. Architect Rob Harrison writes, “Before you do any of these things (major renovations) you may want to talk to a real estate agent. The most environmentally friendly solution when a home doesn’t fit your needs is to move to one that does! Chances are someone else out there will like your house the way it is. Not renovating at all is the greenest option.”

Hmmm. I don’t think moving is in our near future, but I do like the way he thinks. I’d give you more of his thoughts, but he’s already in the recycling bin.
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1 comment:

Pamela said...

I agree! I haven't figured out how pitching all of the glasses I already own for recycled ones actually improves anything.

Good for you and thank you for the simple logic.