Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Filling out your jeans

I'll admit it, I am always looking for that fabulous pair of blue jeans that are stylish and comfortable. As a result I have a closet full of them. Some are far too low for anyone over 20 to wear. Others are for my "fat" days. And still more probably looked ok in the dressing room, but by the time I got them home the magic had gone. I feel guilty at the waste of my hard-earned money to buy them at silly, inflated prices. I am also embarrassed by the way they pile up on that unreachable part of my closet. Many end up at Goodwill and that asuages the guilt some.

Today, I'm a new fan of jeans. Not as a fashion statement, but as an integral part of a "green" renovation. There's new meaning to the phrase: "she really fills out her jeans."

For me, filling out your jeans has come to mean using them to keep the cold out in winter and the heat out in summer. It's all about filling in the cracks and crevices between sheet rock with your Levis, Jordache, Sevens and Gaps. Anyone who has been around when fiberglass insulation is being installed, will appreciate the difference when your R-value comes from a batting made of comfortable blue jean material-- or natural cotton fiber insulation, as it is known. I stayed away from the house on the days when the old fiberglass insulation was being removed and reused in the attic for additional insulation. But I was happy to hang around Cemil and the crew when they brought in the blue fiber bundles. I found myself going through the house and patting the exposed framing with the blue insulation. It just felt so soft, like a broken in pair of blue jeans.

I couldn't wait to research this ingenious reclamation product of a ubiquitous and natural material (as I'm sure my closet of jeans isn't unusual). Of course, I read the caution about how this material can hold in mold once it has gotten wet. Cemil pointed out that any insulation product can do that. So don't let it get wet! Furthermore, when the blue jean insulation dries out, it can still be effective as it retains its ability to provide R-value. The same can't be said for fiberglass insulation. It is also treated with a natural fire retardant so it is comparable to fiberglass products in this regard.

I'd read the back and forth about cellulose vs. "batted" insulation techniques and I can personally attest to the sound-dampening quality that the blue jean insulation has in my project. Cemil mentioned using it before in home theater installations for that very reason. It's really quite noticeable. In this project, most of the additional insulation is needed in inside walls, so it makes the decision of the batt vs. blown product easy.

Imagine my surprise, when my new Bosch dishwasher came in and instead of their using the "pink" insulation product, I noticed that they used the blue stuff instead. Clearly Bosch finds it to be a comparable product and one that is consumer-friendly. Who wants formaldehyde in their house, anyway?

Blue is the new pink, as far as I'm concerned.

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