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Main Remodeling Green

Josh Bogle of Green Remodeling, LLC reports on remodeling green.

Just this week I saw three magazines devoting cover space to Green building. What a buzz. Apparently, we've all decided that. As for me and my house, we will save the planet The tipping point has been reached. People have seen the light (solar of course). Now we can save our local aquifer if we just buy the right brand of organic cotton towels. Our atmosphere will be OK if we just paint with the lowest VOC designer paint on the market. Salmon won't go extinct if we build our next 4000 square foot house with sustainably certified lumber. There are no hard choices anymore. We can consume all our hearts desire if we just make sure the products we purchase have the picture of that smiling mom holding hands with her healthy young son. Its so simple. Why did we never realize before that it really is about whether we choose Coke or Pepsi?

Um yeah... so my sarcasm is about as thinly disguised as all these new products on the market that are all of a sudden Green. The thing about Green building is just how much hot air is attached to the phrase.  

hot air hot air hot air. (of course I named my business Green Remodeling so I suppose I'm calling the kettle black) It seems that all that is needed to be Green these days is to have a glossy enough ad campaign in all the right rags. The September 2006 issue of Dwell is all about how sexy sustainability is right now. And I like sexy, dont get me wrong; good design, beautiful projects well crafted, this is how I love to spend my days. But true greenness doesnt begin with sexy. True greenness begins much deeper down in our gut; it begins with thankfulness.

The greenest thing you can do, building-wise or just in lifestyle, is nothing. Just calm down and don't do anything. Be thankful for everything that is already in your life. Don't go to the grocery store until you've finished off the last beans from the last bag in the cupboard. Don't get any new clothes until the ones you have truly cease to be serviceable. Don't add that new bathroom, but just enjoy, be thankful about, love tripping over the kids as you all get ready every morning. There will be a time to buy again, a time to build, a time to consume, but not until deep thankfulness has become a part of who we are.

Only those who are thankful are capable of the choices required in living green. A traditional consumer may do a sexy, green bathroom remodel, using linoleum, cork, recycled glass tiles, hiring a contractor that uses dust-free, healthy work practices, choosing low-flow water fixtures, stocking hemp hand towels in a wicker basket certifiably made by a third world worker who received fair wages. But what happens when the sexiness wears off? What happens when that first orgasm of pleasure at having something new wears off? The traditional consumer will go looking for the next sexy project to feed the machine.

The thankful person may do a traditional remodel, choose vinyl floors and laminate countertops, a traditional contractor whose practices release lead and formaldehyde into the air. But suppose they get there slower, choosing to do the project only after the current bathroom they are thankful for has lost its functionality. And suppose the new bath is also used with thankfulness until the end of its useful life span, and so this household gets twice the life out of its remodel. Who is greener now?

Obviously a little of both is needed. Good choices in how to build and what to build with can make a huge difference in your family's physical health and well being. But if there is no core attitude of thankfulness, then there is no mental and emotional foundation for that health and well-being. Start at the bottom. Slow down. Savor what you have been given. Be thankful, or at least mindful, of the gifts in your life. And then sit down with your architect or contractor and talk about design and function and space. A project that flows out of your thankfulness will inevitably celebrate and support who you are. You will end up with a project that reflects your values, doesn't compromise your health, and is durable and functional for decades. And sexy or not, thats Green by anyones definition.

Josh Bogle
Green Remodeling, LLC
Posted by Josh Bogle at 8/29/2006 7:32:00 PM

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