Apr 01

what it means to be green: eco-confessional

My conscience has been heavy all day and I feel like I need to come clean. My blog feels like as good a place as any to repent my sins, so here goes.

Last night I replaced our old kitchen faucet with a new one. At 1am I realized I was missing critical washers for a compression fitting. This morning, I went to home depot to find replacements. Frustrated after fruitless searching, unhelpful associates, and late for work, I opened a box for a new faucet and stole the washers I missing from my set. Yes - put them in my pocket and left the store. I even said "have a great day" to the security guard.

the washers i stole

I'm pained with remorse. I thought about returning to the store and asking forgiveness but I know I'd be laughed at. Though I hope to one day be in total harmony with Gaia (is that so wrong?) I am a work in progress. Just last night I was reading an article about how Home Depot's policy is to throw away returned, damaged or opened items. That faucet will be trashed - not donated, refurbished or returned to the manufacturer - trashed. And I did it anyway.

In asking myself why, I think of the many who "open and take" without remorse. After all, I'm not exactly sure why my set was missing washers in the first place. But when I ask myself if this wanton disregard for consequence is natural human behavior, I'm tempted to answer "no". I want to say that the operational procedures of these box stores that factor in such a high degree of waste and loss actually create this behavior in the consumer. It literally turns well-meaning people like me into monsters. Like the one I've become.

Had I been shopping at a smaller hardware store (like the Baller Hardware I sometimes visit) I would certainly have given some more thought to the consequences. Unsold merchandise probably means a lot more to their business than it does to Home Depot's. And they probably would have taken the time to help me find the parts I was looking for in the first place.

Don't let anyone tell you green is easy. Not to discourage you converts out there, but being more eco-conscious requires more effort, more forethought and innumerable changes in every detail of your behavior.

But as I think about that faucet - the metal, the paper box, the plastic parts bags, all fresh from the factory - sitting in a dumpster behind Home Depot because of a few cents worth of washers and my lack of patience, I know it's all worth it.

Jul 13

First post...

Welcome to the site. This blog follows the renovations going on at our home in LA's echo park neighborhood. It's our first home and we want it to be as environmentally-friendly as possible. We've never done this before and I'm sure many folks out there would benefit by learning from our lessons - hence this blog. So stay tuned for tips, tricks, mistakes, meltdowns, and mishaps.

Keep on keepin on.

Jul 26

green insurance for your home

Most home insurance policies will only provide for the most basic materials in the event you need to rebuild your home, and the most basic is usually the least environmentally friendly option. A new home insurance policy offered by Fireman's Fund Insurance Co. will pay an all-green rebuild, even if your home isn't green today.

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Aug 25

What's your home's green footprint?

There's an abundance of eco-footprint calculators out there. I'm sure you all have taken one at one point or another. Like this one? Or perhaps this?

The Earth Day network calculator, however, really impressed me, with its multi-part form asking about less-frequently incorporated factors like how far away your food is shipped and how much packaging it uses.

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Sep 06

project: a terrace on the side

We've started a new project at the house, one that's going to take a level of butch-ness that Hector and I have never before exhibited. We're terracing a portion of our yard. Here's a photo of the part of the yard we're going to tackle:

what the side yard looked like during escrow. what we didn't see (until later) was the bamboo growing here.
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Sep 13

our own private superfund site

We're well into our project to terrace the side yard, and create usable patio space from what was an overgrown bamboo jungle.

Unfortunately, the project has provided some unexpected surprises. It's a trash heap of superfund proportions. Here's a little sample, and yes, that is a carpet:

Yes, that's carpet fiber we are pulling out of the hillside.

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Oct 27

we're alive, i promise!

I know it's been a while but I'm back. The project was taking its toll and a break was in order, but I'm ready to update you on the latest. And it's looking good! Hector and I are very pleased with how well everything is turning out. It's so cool to finally have livable outdoor space reclaimed from the wilds of our backyard!

Here's how things look so far:

We've got gravel, folks!

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Oct 27

eco-friendly landscape fabric

Every now and then I come across a cool product that is green AND does what it says it does. This landscape fabric is a great example of that.

Natural and effective, corn-based weed blocker safely biodegrades

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Feb 18

eco-glue is the new super glue.

non-toxic, earth-friendly and not made from horses. what could be better?! i found this little gem at walgreen's believe it or not. and i guarantee you can get it too - i'm pretty sure there's a walgreen's within a few miles of your house :-)

amazing EcoGlue! earth friendly power adhesive in a generous (and recyclable) package.

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Feb 18

landscape fabric update

Late last year (or two posts ago, depending on how you look at things) I posted about the landscape fabric we're using under the crushed granite on our terrace project. Now, well into the rain-fed-weed-season, I wanted to update y'all on how it's doing.

It's working out GREAT. No weeds come up through the fabric. And no weeds this season mean no weed seeds germinating next season. For at least this small patch of yard the score is me:1, weeds:0 :-)

Mar 14

greening our thumbs

Now that we've tamed enough of our wilderness yard we have the room for a vegetable garden! Neither I nor Hector has grown our own vegetables before at this scale (we do have a few chile pepper plants we've been raising for the last few years). Needless to say we're very excited for this foray, and today we shop for the supplies to build the planter boxes.

We're building two boxes, following the general idea of the Sunset box. This great design will allow us to have a semi-permanent box with excellent drainage while keeping pesky pests out (insects, gophers and most nefarious of all: our cats).

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