This blog chronicles my life as I try to balance healthy lifestyle habits with my husband's penchant for pizza rolls and my daughter's desire to watch iCarly 8 hours a day. It contains a mostly humorous, kind, and somewhat spiritual look at everyday life and the people who live it.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Green Tip Tuesday: Sometimes it's Greener not to Go Green

I do love watching decorating shows and now the buzz phrase on many shows is to "Go Green" when doing a remodel.  Well it all sounds good but I have been a little confused by the execution.  For example on a recent Dear Genevieve the homeowners needed a kitchen remodel and they wanted to use the "greenest products" available/affordable.  Very noble concept indeed.  That's why I was so confused when I saw the homeowners and crew energetically taking sledge hammers to the old cabinets and countertops.  Perhaps I am the exception, but I have never had a garage or laundry room that I felt had enough cabinets.  Is there a reason that those kitchen cabinets couldn't have been recycled as garage or laundry room storage?  The homeowner thought they were too dark and some of them had doors that wouldn't close but does that mean the whole group had to be smashed to smithereens?  What about painting them a lighter color?  Adding magnets to the doors that won't close?  I think the reason for the dramatic cabinet and countertop smash up is that it makes good TV.  But don't be fooled: creating waste like that is not green, no matter how green the replacement products may be.

Unfortunately a typical scene from many decorating shows

Lots of decorating shows feature the designer enthusiastically ripping up carpet, discarding furniture into giant dumpsters, laying down new flooring, and building new pieces often using medium density fiberboard (MDF).  I hope the homeowners like caring for plants because it's going to take a lot of spider plants to neutralize the toxins being emitted by new carpeting, glued or veneered hardwood floors, and MDF furniture.  And then they throw in a reclaimed wood mantel and call the makeover "green"?  Really?  And how about the bathroom makeovers?  Since when is hammering to death a "dated" looking vanity and sink a green way to go?  Has no one ever heard of tub resurfacing on these shows?  How is it that the designers are always extolling the virtues of the re-sale shop for finding one of a kind vintage pieces yet they don't appear to be contributing to re-sale shops, only landfills?

To their credit, many shows, especially the ones geared toward quickly selling your home, do show designers painting or re-working existing pieces.  I'd like to see more shows featuring designers re-purposing items that are no longer being used in the room receiving the makeover.  Wouldn't you be interested to see how the kitchen cabinets were hung in the garage and part of the countertop reused to form a garage workspace?  I know I'd love to see creative ways to put some storage in my teeny-tiny laundry closet (can't be called a room because it's not) by using pieces cast off from other parts of the house.  I know those talented TLC and HGTV designers could do it.

I don't have a lot of "green" elements to my home.  I have hardwood floors throughout the home but they are not made of renewable cork or bamboo.  I am certainly not going to rip up these floors and replace them with renewable wood because that would be creating waste and still using new resources.  The foremost idea of being "green" is to lessen the amount of waste generated.  The appliances that we had to replace because they were broken were replaced with Energy Star appliances but I am not about to replace my perfectly good stove just to get one with an Energy Star rating.  That would be wasteful.  Before I discovered more natural cleaning products I had a closet full of Lysol, Scrubbing Bubbles, Comet scouring powder, and Soft Scrub.  My laundry room held Tide, Shout, and Downy, and I always dusted with Pledge.  I am all for reducing toxins in the home but to throw out all those cleaning products would be wasteful both financially and environmentally.  Instead I slowly replaced each product with its "greener" option once the product was empty.  Some products, like the Lysol, I still keep around for emergencies like a child with the stomach flu at 4 a.m. when you and I both know there's no way I'll be hauling out my steam cleaner to sanitize the bathroom floor naturally. 

Once a product has been made the resource has been used.  Whether that resource is renewable or not it doesn't make a lot of sense to throw that product into a landfill so it can be replaced with a "greener" version unless the product has truly lost its usefulness.

I love decorating shows.  I especially love "green" episodes of decorating shows.  But being green is a verb, not a soundbite.

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