Monday, March 16, 2009

Accidentally on the Eco-Friendly Path

I have decided to start blogging once a week on a combo of my efforts at being green, reducing my carbon footprint, as well as my love affair with my old house. Some decisions my husband and I will be good others maybe could have been better, but we try. This was inspired by a feature story about my shops Luster and Luster Metal Works that was written by Adele of Modernemotive. This segment shows how I left my life of conspicuous consumption behind....

Many people these days are concerned with being more eco-friendly or green. I have to admit I have thought about it but really, it did not become something I referred to as a part of until this past year. For most of us, I think there is always some trigger that leads us down a new path. Some of us change by making a concerted effort to do so based on personal belief, others of us just sorta wander near the path and finally find that they are on it by the strange way life evolves. I was a wonderer. There are many things I was doing correct, but didn't even consider it as being "eco-friendly" until one of my conspicuous consumption type friends made a comment on how my life now is soo different than it used to be and that I was an "Eco-Geek". At first I was offended, I didn't want to be an eco-geek that was a title that should be reserved for Ed Begley Jr or Bill Nuy. But then I realized, compared to her I really was! And you know what, it is not so bad.

Some of the things I was already doing that she referred to as Eco were just things I did, not because I was trying to be green, I did them because they felt right, but I was not always this way. In my "previous life" my husband and I lived in the snarl referred to as NoVa (Northern Virginia). This is a large sprawling area of high cost living and crazy commutes. I should know. At the time, we lived in a tiny fixer-upper house of only 800 sq ft that cost over $500K. This not so dream house was also about a 60 mile, one way commute to work, which included a lot of sitting in standstill beltway traffic. Why so far out? Well, that was as close as we could get and almost afford to live. And unfortunately my husband and I worked in opposite directions, so no carpooling. Don't gasp, but he drove a pickup truck to work and I drove a SUV.... and the sad thing is that we were the norm.

When we would get home, we often were so worn out that we would go out to dinner just to avoid cooking and cleaning for ourselves. When I turned 30, I had a "third life crisis". I realized I was getting fat from eating out and no activity. I wanted kids but I realized that if I had them, they would have to be in day care from like 5 am until like 7 pm. That is not a life for kids! And I couldn’t quit my job, it was very good paying and we needed both salaries just to pay our mortgage...and then there was the house. It was not set up for a family, and to upgrade to a family size house at the peak of the housing boom meant taking on a million dollar or more mortgage. We just couldn't do that....but many people around us could and did. So now you see the beginning of my third life crisis. Then I lost my job….

Fully feeling the crisis set in, my husband put together a proposal to open a branch office of the company he worked for out in central Illinois, a much lower cost of living location. Fortunately it was well received by his bosses as a lot of the work he was in charge of was based in the mid west area. So I set out to find us a house that met all of our requirements. My requirements were: move in ready condition, central AC, something good for a family, something with a mortgage we could afford on 1 salary. My husband’s requirements were: enough acreage so that the drunk neighbors could not be so nosey and pop in as soon as he worked on a project and proceed to tell him how it should be done if they were doing it (oh yeah, we were a magnet for those types), he wanted a cool house that had not been “remuddled” by some hack, he needed enough space for his toys and hobbies, and if he had a commute, he wanted it to be so that we lived to the East of town so that he was not driving into the sun both directions. Well, let me just say, my husband got everything on his list….I was short a few. But when I found the house I fell in love and my list didn’t seem to matter anymore. I didn’t realize that not only was I moving to a different area of the country, but I was also moving to a different way of life and thinking.

This may not sound too green to you yet, but over the next few weeks I will post on how I slowly became more eco-friendly and ways we stumbled onto a more green path and now ways we actually make concerted decisions to reduce our carbon foot print. It was a process, it did not happen overnight. I hope you will enjoy the journey with me. I look forward to hearing your comments and suggestions on ways to do better! And for those of you who appreciate seeing an old house being brought back from the dead, I hope you particularly enjoy this!

Here is a photo of my house as I found it and fell in love with it... I will be sharing photos of the renovation in my posts. Some renovations were green, some greenish, some we just needed done and with the time and money we had available...


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Sweet Greens said...

I love this. I am a green blogger. I love your work. Visit me sometime @
Sweet Greens

Susan said...

Thanks! I am off to check out your blog!

Pocono Deb said...

Thanks for saving that beautiful old home! Thanks for being green! Thanks for making such beautiful work. Your boy is even more beautiful! Best of luck with your business.