Attempting to Live a Sustainable Lifestyle in St. Louis

Environmentally friendly decisions are tough

St Louis garbage collection problem December 23, 2009

Filed under: St Louis — budint @ 9:39 pm
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Managing a densely populated urban environment requires that city governments approach challenges with creative solutions.   Doing so can save the city money and increase the quality of life for its residents.  Consider the curb-side recycling program, the 27 drop-off recycling locations and operation brightside; all good programs that help make this a better place to live.

One of St Louis’ recent challenges however is that twice a week garbage pick-up has become too costly and thus they’re trying once a week service.  The motivation makes sense: save money by reducing fuel costs, truck use and city employee hours.  This approach however doesn’t make sense and has resulted in health and quality of life issues. (see picture)

Alternatives could be:

1) An education and awareness program that gets citizens to think about their trash differently. For example, the above picture shows a lot of boxes and other bulky items that could be broken down or recycled.

2) A study could be done to see what alleys or neighborhoods produce the most trash and specifically target those.

3) Maybe specific dumpsters could be upgraded to larger ones and that would take the load off.

In any case, the refuse department should be thinking more creatively than just cutting pick-ups in half.  Lest the cuts lead to increased litter and decreased community pride, which then takes neighborhoods into downwards spirals when no one cares anymore.

I’m sure the folks at Good Magazine have seen some new unique approaches that cities have used.  Just need the people running our city services to look outside the box.


the modern house I use to hate March 18, 2009

Filed under: Design,Landscaping,St Louis,The hood — budint @ 1:43 am

modern house on juniata

Back in 2002-03 (can’t remember), I was a big fan of the old architecture in St Louis and still am.  My neighborhood, which is the same one I’m back in today, was full of brick shotgun homes, 2 families and a street of bungalows.  I was really proud of living in an area with such original architecture that when this house was built several blocks away, I was appalled.

Like any new home on a lot in an old neighborhood, it looked out of place.  Just by the fact it was a new structure on an empty lot, it looked odd.   Add to the fact that it was a crazy looking, modern home and folks in the hood (including myself) thought it was a real mistake.  Not sure how much grief the guy took or if he even cared, but I heard about it frequently and saw ppl on the neighborhood chat board mentioning it.

So 5-6yrs later what do i think of the house?

imodern house fitting in

Firstly, I’ve realized that it takes some time for a new house to fit in.  The trees must grow back, the landscaping takes place, the weathering of materials, etc.

Secondly, the owner did a decent job w/ the landscaping that really helped to fill around the large white mass.  The thin and see thru wooden fence also does well to tie the modern structure to more natural surroundings.

Lastly, I’ve come to appreciate a mixture of design styles within a modern urban setting. I personally chose to be a bit more discrete and not disrupt the curb appeal of my street, but I don’t think that option was here for this house.   So if you’re going to go new, then challenge the current preconceptions of new homes and that’s what this guy did.

Only thing I know (or I’ve been told) about the owner is that he’s an architecture teacher at Washington University, here in St Louis.


Low VOC primer; pricey and hard to find October 10, 2008

Filed under: Green Rehab,Live Green 2.0,St Louis — budint @ 11:54 pm
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Post Written by my wife:

Well, it is about that time (the time when you think the house is almost finished, but the details stretch out forever.) Yes, we are trying to find low cost eco friendly primer do go over the dry-wall. Did you know that there was such a thing? Well, we are finding there is and there isn’t. My husband and I have been calling different paint manufacturers…Sherwin Williams, Kilz/Behr (part of Masterchem), Lowes, Home Depot, Ace Hardware…you name it and  we’ve called it. We have been searching for the rarest of paints in this  Low VOC Primer.

Yes, you might think this would be easy. It’s primer (which is simple) and low voc (which is pretty common now). But we have finally realized it is impossible. You can get Eco friendly/Low Voc paints as a primer, but you’re paying a stiff price for something like Sherwin-Williams Harmony or Benjamin Moore Aura.  Behr has a low VOC primer, but its not available in the state of Missouri. Why you ask? Because the state does not demand it AND there isn’t consumer demand for it. Sad but true. Not that I thought that we lived in California where they set their own enviromental standards for everything, but I at least thought we would be able to buy Behr’s product here.  So sad to say we will not be priming our walls with Low Voc. We do feel good that we have alternatives for our regular paint but our feeling kind of down about buying the crap stuff for the primer.   Btw, Sherwin Williams Harmony primer is 50% more than Behr’s crap stuff.  This equates to a $350 price difference for our project and that’s just on primer.  😦


Reusing for Art July 14, 2008

Filed under: Design,Live Green 2.0,Reuse,St Louis — budint @ 2:42 am
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Remember… reducing is best. Because then it never gets made, packaged, shipped and finally sent off to a landfill.

Reusing is the 2nd best, cause you’re still skipping the landfill step and potentially delaying the production step (if you were going to end up buying whatever it was).

Recycling is the 3rd best, cause you’re skipping the landfill, but using energy to create a new life for the material.

Then there’s Reusing for Art, which I think falls somewhere between re-using and recycling.   At the Tower Grove farmer’s market this weekend volunteers were handing out information and requesting lamps for an upcoming installation put on by the Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts.  Here the objective is to reuse old lamps or light fixtures for a project where they’ll be installing these in the old church on spring street that was nearly destroyed in a fire some years ago (see brochure below).

I’m kind of excited because we have a fair number of ugly light fixtures we pulled out of our rehab which I’ve been hanging onto for a 2nd home. My assumption is that I’d somehow work them into a project or if all else failed, donate them to the ReStore.  So this is a slightly different way to give my junk a 2nd life and I look forward to seeing the installation when it’s completed.

If you have any lamps or light fixtures, please bring them to the TowerGrove farmer’s market next Saturday, July 19th or at least this is what the volunteer told me.


On-site with architect Paul Brenden July 1, 2008

Since we haven’t done a video w/ Paul since October, thought it would be a good time to catch up regarding our project to date. I asked Paul to come to the job site to describe the process, the design and give us an overview of things to date.

This definitely isn’t an action thriller and Paul’s professional comic skills are lacking, but for those truly interested in large scale rehabs with good design, there are alot of good lessons to be learned from Paul and our project.

Started on 2nd Floor

Worked our way to the 1st Floor

When we start doing some of the real fun stuff (tankless, rain-screen install, polished concrete, etc) we’ll shoot some additional videos.


2 beat up chairs with a nice design and good price June 20, 2008

Filed under: Design,Live Green 2.0,St Louis — budint @ 3:11 am
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I’m a big fan of the guy who writes the GrassRoots Modern blog.  One thing he does really well is find great sales on retail merchandise or great modern pieces at a garage sale or on Craig’s list.  I’m always thinking “how does this guy do this? Does Salt Lake City really have that many people throwing out mid-century modern pieces?”   The jealousy subsided last week when I perused thru a nearby garage sale (something I never do) and saw these 2 chairs.

Of course they’re a little beat up, need reupholstered and some love, but I like the lines and the price.  Well, maybe not the price initially.  The guy was asking $10 for the pair in the morning and refused to come down. So then i sent my neighbor down 2 hrs later to give him $5 for the pair, but he came back empty

handed. Then I went again 2hrs later and offered $7.50 for the pair, but at this point the guy had dug in his heels and would rather die than sell the chairs for $10. And of course at this point, I’d rather die than buy the chairs for $10. But even at $10, they were a pretty good deal.  So what did I do in this conundrum??  I sent the wife to buy the chairs for $10 (first she tried for less, but he didn’t budge).  Everyone was happy in the end: I didn’t personally buy the chairs for $10 and he got what he wanted.  The wife is the only person who thinks they lost out cause she had to haul them back to the place since I refused to let the guy know it was me buying them.

next step is to fix a piece of wood and have them reupholstered.   Wonder if I’ll ever have this luck again; like the guy at GrassRoots Modern does every other week.