Attempting to Live a Sustainable Lifestyle in St. Louis

Environmentally friendly decisions are tough

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.


Cars that run on grease and hay insulation September 13, 2007

Filed under: Live Green 2.0,Renewable — budint @ 3:07 am

 Late to the Green Party on our block.

Our soon to be neighbor across the street has this old Mercedes (see below) that she has converted to run on grease. She picks up the grease from the Asian restaurants nearby, strains it in her backyard and fills her car up.

Grease Benzchicken cartoon

On a similar note she has chickens in her backyard. No these aren’t rubber chickens she uses for jokes, these are the real feathery kind. Apparently she uses them for eggs, or I suppose for organic gardening as well (chicken poop = nitrogen for plants).  Anyhow, I’m not ready to take my sustainable commitment to the next level with livestock in my back yard, so maybe i’ll never been the greenest guy on the block.
Speaking of chickens and livestock, I wanted to take a moment to highlight the original insulation from our 1920’s bungalow. No, it’s not the pink panther, though I do wonder how Owens Corning got that character for their mascot, and do they still pay royalties?   What we have/had as our insulation is hay; plain old straw hay.     Hay Insulation
It was stuffed in the ceiling in bags and bags. It also appeared that there was some kind of chemical coating (possibly fire retardant)  which was applied to the bags. Or it just could’ve been a layer of harsh dust.  As you can imagine, after 90yrs this stuff is pretty dry, and I was certainly a bit nervous as my Marlboro smoking demolition guys took their smoke breaks. They got specific instructions to not smoke near the straw.   And now that the last straw hay bag is out, I can sleep soundly knowing my place won’t as easily go up in smoke. And why wallet will sleep soundly when my energy bills are reduced by improved insulation.


I want renewable energy. Everyone wants renewable energy!! September 12, 2007

Filed under: Live Green 2.0,Renewable — budint @ 3:25 am

 Though I know you can’t currently see the design of our project, rest assured, we have planned for future solar panels.  Even if I need to create the crystalline silicon in my basement lab and glue each particle of the material together to make a solid panel, then that’s what I’ll do.  Alternatively, I can wait for the Heliotube (as slow as it is) to fully come to market.  I’m not the only one waiting for this lower cost solar panel solution to hit the mainstream.  I know a guy in Minnesota who’s building a LEED home and also waiting for Soliant to release the Heliotube to the rest of us.


 Soliant Energy Inc., seriously, come on with it!!! I know you have these relationships with the California solar installers union or something, but some of us in the Midwest would also like a crack at the product.  Don’t make me put a fleet of windmills on my roof (though it may cut down on the pigeons).