Greening the Green Girl

| 4/21/2010 9:39:50 AM

house photo 1I did not want to do this. I really didn’t. I wasn’t ready to buy a house — and I wasn’t ready to make it green. But then I fell in love.

The house is an 85-year-old gem. The kind of home people say has “good bones.” And she does. The two-story structure boasts original fixtures, gorgeous hardwood floors (oak, pine and maple) and a beautiful organic garden. The house had two owners prior to me (the first was born here and, judging from the portion of tombstone in the backyard, someone else died here). It holds love, care and light.

I decided to view the home on a lark. As you can see in the photo, it’s nothing special from the outside. But when you walk in, everything changes. I stood in the doorway and looked through the porch onto the garden and gave thanks for an incredible blooming tree. My friend Annie leaned into me and whispered, “You have to buy it.” Let me repeat — I was not ready! But then Annie asked, “When will you be?” She reminded me that this house had all the quiet, space and sunshine I said I wanted and was in my favorite neighborhood, within walking distance of the University where I teach and the sweet downtown where I spend much of my leisure time. (The walk to school is straight uphill and great for my glutes.) I let go of my fear. Three hours later I made an offer. About 23 hours after that, it was accepted.    

I am a journalism professor, a working journalist who focuses on sustainability and someone folks have called “an eco-expert.” It’s true I know a thing or two about Mother Earth, but there’s always more to learn. (And I reserve that eco-expert title for icons such as Wangari Maathai.) I have experienced much of our natural world in the once-removed fashion of the urban apartment dweller. I’ve never mowed a lawn, my ex weather-stripped our apartment and my landlord installed my low-flow showerhead. I held seeds for the first time two years ago at an incredible urban farm in Kansas City. And while I have told millions of people about water conservation and energy reduction, I have never owned a dual-flush toilet or had an opportunity to really consider my insulation. (My ex took my toolbox — and I haven’t missed it.) 

Now’s my chance to embrace well-worn clichés: walk my talk and put my money where my mouth is. You will bear witness to this green girl going green, experiencing the messy, humbling process of making my home more energy-efficient, less polluting and more beautiful. 

I’ll share small and large changes that reap the greatest benefit (to your wallet and the planet), and let you in on the products I am using. Some of the companies have given me a break on costs (for which I am most grateful), but only on products I was going to buy anyway. (I had budgeted accordingly.) If they’re good enough for me, I hope you will consider them, too — or suggest better alternatives. If something doesn’t work for me, you will learn that, too.

4/28/2010 11:54:51 AM

Your home looks wonderful and sounds even better from the inside, so much lovely wood, and the garden an absolute treat. When you say it is nothing special from the outside I would disagree as this style is very rare in England - we don't have clapboard houses, if that is how you refer to the style. We see lots of this style in films and we are all always envious of how light and spacious they look. In England our quaint houses are built from local materials, where I live the house is built of stone because it is surrounded by Yorkshire stone quarries. Some areas are flint, or predominently red brick, and in other areas the roofs are thatched. I would love to see more photos of your house inside and out. We are trying to do our bit for the environment at this end and refer to ourselves as 'Wombles', not sure if you know who they are in America. Jane

Subscribe Today - Pay Now & Save 64% Off the Cover Price

Money-Saving Tips in Every Issue!

Mother Earth NewsAt MOTHER EARTH NEWS, we are dedicated to conserving our planet's natural resources while helping you conserve your financial resources. You'll find tips for slashing heating bills, growing fresh, natural produce at home, and more. That's why we want you to save money and trees by subscribing through our earth-friendly automatic renewal savings plan. By paying with a credit card, you save an additional $5 and get 6 issues of MOTHER EARTH NEWS for only $12.95 (USA only).

You may also use the Bill Me option and pay $17.95 for 6 issues.

Canadian Subscribers - Click Here
International Subscribers - Click Here
Canadian subscriptions: 1 year (includes postage & GST).

Facebook Pinterest Instagram YouTube Twitter flipboard

Free Product Information Classifieds Newsletters