Wednesday, January 3, 2007

Green is not just the "new black"

It’s this century’s little black dress

I’ve been away from the computer and the project. Truth is, I’ve been in New York City for the holidays. And for the first time that anyone can remember, there was no sign of snow at Christmas. You have to appreciate that something is out of whack with our planet when San Francisco is colder than New York in December.

It was a good visit in so many ways. I got to catch up with dear friends and family members and bring them up to speed on the details of my renovation. I received so much encouragement. Not surprising, my Swiss friend, with whom I spent Christmas, already knew so much about the products I was reviewing and my green construction practices. It just reminds us how far behind the U.S. is with ecology innovation and acceptance.

The plane trip meant that I got to catch up on reading and I tore out some interesting articles and commentaries. I’ve decided that the volume of articles on ecology and the environment is not a statement about “green being the new black,” as my boyfriend likes to say. Rather, it’s due to the curiosity and interest from a public that has awakened to some of the issues and want to know more. The biggest challenge will be in turning that casual interest into lifestyle changes. But in the words of actress Daphne Zuniga, ”the enormity of becoming green in a day would make anyone want to hide under the covers.” Instead this eco activist/actress, in a Shape article, suggests that everyone should start with something small….. such as replacing three old light bulbs with compact fluorescent bulbs which ends up saving 300 pounds of carbon dioxide a year.

I rarely pick up Met Home anymore these days because I find it to be more about chic and modern aesthetics than the kinds of practical guidance that I need in redefining this country home in Sonoma. But I just couldn’t resist picking it up at the JFK newsstand. And sure enough, the bible for all things hyper urban included the usual in cool white interiors but also had many references to green design. I particularly enjoyed an article by Karrie Jacobs, the founding/past Dwell editor, who talked about her new book, The Perfect $100,000 House. She discusses the efficiencies of prefab house construction (we aren’t talking double-wides here). I’ve had many conversations with knowledgeable architects about the ability to create fuel-efficient and cost-effective housing with wonderful features by embracing pre-fab techniques. I suspect that anyone who reads this book will be as convinced as I that an inexpensive but fabulous 1,000 square foot house is possible.

While I normally browse the New York Times online, I was away from it for the week. But I threw the hotel-provided copy into my bag and I wasn’t disappointed by their coverage of green lifestyles. Sure enough, I tore out another handy chart on how we can all make decisions and alter our lifestyles ever so slightly in order to achieve positive personal and environmental results. A few examples:

· Drive 400 miles at 65 MPH instead of 75 ends up saving $7 per trip and 48 pounds of carbon dioxide.

· Buy a vehicle that gets 2 more miles per gallon than the average and save $212 a year and over 1,500 pounds of carbon dioxide.

· Replace a 20-year-old refrigerator with a new one and save 243 pounds of carbon dioxide. The tricky part is to make sure you dispose of the old fridge responsibly (see earlier post on reclamation sources)…… and not put it in the garage to hold your stash of party drinks.

It is estimated that we produce 44,000 pounds of carbon per person, per year. So anyway to reduce that number is key. My personal goal for 2007 is to reduce my emissions by 3,100 a year (as recommended by the Kyoto protocol).

Now as I near the time for declaring New Year’s resolutions, I feel good about my jump on my goal of living a more ecologically responsible life.

Alicia Silverstone, actress (from my less “high-brow” plane reading):

We get the message at an early age that one person can’t make a difference, but that’s simply not true. It’s the little things that matter. The people who don’t need a grocery bag because they bought their own, or who shop at the local farmers market, or who buy hybrid cars—these are the real super heroes. They inspire me because they are making a difference, not only in their lives but in the lives of others.

No comments: