Attempting to Live a Sustainable Lifestyle in St. Louis

Environmentally friendly decisions are tough

Starting to compost July 30, 2009

Filed under: Live Green 2.0 — budint @ 3:44 am
Tags: ,

In an attempt to further reduce our waste going to the landfill, I purchased a composting bin from Sam’s club. The quality of the product has left a little something to be desired, but what could i expect from Sam’s for $62?

I haven’t added any accelerators yet, but thought about picking up some worms to get the party started. Really hoping that when progress begins, I don’t have a smell or insect problem.  It’s bad enough w/ the giant bin next to my rain barrel, but you have to make sacrifices, that’s what I tell my wife.

composter

Advertisements
 

Rain barrels should be mandatory July 16, 2009

For my birthday last year my parents sent me a rain barrel. The barrel was a pretty ugly orange and I always got grief about it from my wife.  Not long after we moved into the finished house, I altered the gutter and put the rain barrel into action.

From the first rain fall til today, I’ve never needed to use tap water on the yard plants. The 60 gallons has been sufficient thus far.   There was a dry spell where I went thru all of the water and got worried, but soon after we had a light rain and I was back in business.

One alteration I had to make was the exterior color. As I mentioned, my wife didn’t like the orange and neighbors frequently asked what the orange barrel was (I’m painting the gutter too btw).

rain barrel

My next modification is to buy another rain barrel to catch the overflow of this first one and give myself 120 gallons.  The River des Peres Watershed Coalition offers rain barrels for $60/each.  They’re made from old Pepsi syrup containers and are fitted w/ all the hardware.   I just need to submit my order form.

My conclusion thus far is that everyone should have a rain barrel, as this could significantly cut down on using good tap water for outdoor plants/lawns.  Even if you don’t like the look of mine, retailers offer better looking ones such as this one at Sam’s Club which looks like a giant Terracota pot.

 

My new t-shirt came in a compostable plastic bag July 11, 2009

Filed under: Live Green 2.0 — budint @ 4:27 pm
Tags: , , ,

I have so many free t-shirts from different events, races, volunteer opportunities and none of them are comfortable. They’re the heavy, rigid cotton that doesn’t breathe.
So in looking for some new summer-time t-shirts I wanted something comfortable, organic and unique. This led me to Skreened where I could get all 3 of these features, provided I bring the uniqueness.  Skreened is one of those ‘make your own t-shirt’ outfits on the internet.  They’re angle however includes organic t-shirts from American Apparel made here in the U.S.  Plus, they have alot  of philanthropic and sustainable initiatives that most ‘make your own t-shirt’ providers don’t have.

One for example is the biodegradable shipping back.  See my bag which arrived several days ago with my new t-shirt.  Maybe one day all of our plastic bags will be compostable, wouldn’t that be neat?

IMG_1326

 

Really impressed by Portland (and Oregon) July 9, 2009

Filed under: General Green 2.0,Live Green 2.0,Transportation — budint @ 4:24 am

I must say that I’ve never liked a city as much as I liked Portland.  It really felt like a place that i could live, granted I wasn’t there for 6 cloudy/rainy months either.  The ethos of the city though is very much in line w/ mine.   The bike cultural, the voluntary adoption of mass transit, the sustainable building practices, the artisan like community, the hybrid cars out the ying/yang, the dual flush toilets in many of the commercial buildings, the urban growth boundary, locally sourced foods, etc. etc.

A few specific examples of what I saw:

LEED certification – There were so many buildings that were LEED certified that it made no sense to take pics of them all.  I read in this NYC report that Portland had 63 LEED certified buildings. The Ikea we went to was LEED certified, so was the REI, our hotel and even a winery we visited.

Ikea of Portland

Ikea portland

Sokol Blosser winery’s solar panels. They were also the first LEED certified winery in the nation.

sokol blosser

Locally sourced food was available/promoted at all of the restaurants (it was a foodie town). Even Burgerville, which I initially laughed at, uses sustainable locally produced food. I mean, have you ever seen a burger chain’s website with wind power, bicyclers and kayaker’s on it??

Though Burgerville was a chain, it was a local enterprise. This theme was very prevalent in Portland and they appeared to be very supportive of their independent businesses.  Another example of this is the downtown Portland food campers.  These are groups of 10 campers on a single parking lot selling really good food for a decent price. (see pic below)

food cartslastly and not least is that Portland favorite non-microbrew beer appears to be PBR.  A city after my own heart.  I never drank one though, because with over 50 microbrews in town, why drink something I can get from my local store for less than $.50/can.

pbr art

We’ll miss you Portland!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

 

Landscaping the backyard; currently ideating March 12, 2009

Filed under: Landscaping,Live Green 2.0 — budint @ 2:07 pm
Tags: ,

The back yard is a post construction disaster and now it’s time to do something.  Not only does it look horrible, but my dog is treating it like a mud wrestling pit and I’m sick of bathing her after every outing.  The short-term solution has been to throw down a bunch of straw until i can come up with the master plan.   Like with the front yard, we’ll focus on drought resistant and native plants, plus try to reuse any rock, brick or wood that we can.  The idea would be to use my rain barrel to collect water from the gutter and have that be the only source of watering the backyard.   Still on a serious budget though, so it’ll have to be a balance.

backyard

Resources:

I looked online briefly, but then immediately turned to my local library.  Picked up 2 books:

Modern Garden Design, by Thames and Hudson – partway through the book.  Takes a nice historical perspective and ties in alot of the thinking of the well known modern architects.  Enjoying this book thus far, though the pictures are a bit lacking for generating ideas.

Making the Modern Garden , by Christopher Bradley-Hole – This one had nice pictures, but lacked in historical substance i was kind of looking for.  Much of the focus of the book is on the author’s own landscape architecture work.

Let me know if you have any good online resources that aren’t for the uber-wealthy.

 

holy smartcars batman!!!! here in st louis? really? March 4, 2009

Filed under: Live Green 2.0 — budint @ 12:06 am
Tags:

smart car

Was driving to the library on Saturday (cause it was way to cold to walk and hadn’t started the car in 3 weeks) when I saw with amazement a brand new smart car parked on the side.  I did a double take and went back around the block (one way street) to take a pic.

It was in fact a smartcar, as confirmed by checking their website, which shows all three of their completely identical models. Presumably purchased from the St Louis dealership, though I didn’t know there was a St Louis dealership til now.  And upon searching I found this comment on NY Times blog where this guy has apparently been a SmartCar wholesaler in St Louis for the past 2 years.  (you can be a SmartCar wholesaler? wonder how that’s working in this economy)

Now maybe its because I don’t get out on the road much, but you’d think with going to Earth Day, green home conventions, green open houses and living in a fairly progressive part of town I would have seen this sooner.    Just happy to see that even in St Louis where gas is about as cheap as it gets, folks are willing to think outside the box.

 

Programmable thermostats February 27, 2009

Filed under: Live Green 2.0,Mechanical Systems — budint @ 2:19 pm

No, I don’t live in the 90’s and of course I realize that programmable thermostats aren’t new.  However, the hvac sub who worked on my place must’ve met these criteria.   So finally, now that we’re getting more settled and I’m working thru my personal punchlist I’ve finally gotten around to installing one of the two programmable thermostats.

The brand I’ve stumbled upon recently and have been impressed with thus far is RiteTemp (home depot’s brand I believe).  You can tell that some market research went into the thermostat buying/installation process cause everything about RiteTemp’s packaging, instructions, toll free support numbers and all around value proposition is about ‘simple, do it yourself and compatibility.’    What I think they did above and beyond however, was to add some style.

The first one i installed was the 6030 model.  It has a straight forward look with a nice sized layout and of course its touch screen so you feel like you’re in the 21st century. (The fingerprints might drive me nuts, but you can’t really see them when the flash isn’t there).

6030 RiteTemp

The second model, which I’ll be installing this weekend, is a flush mount model 6036 which is on their homepage.   I love the look of this thing; very “Bill Gates wired home” like.  My only small, small reservation is that you have to cut a hole in the dry-wall to install this (which is fine), but what happens if this unit goes bad and I can’t find it again?  I’ll be stuck having to patch my dry-wall hole and going back w/ a non-flush mounted model.    I can only hope that this model was so successful that they’ll keep selling it year after year.

Great thing about both of these is they were only $49 a piece.  A great value in my mind.