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.


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.


High population density means everyone shares; amenities and problems December 29, 2007

Filed under: St Louis,The hood — budint @ 6:24 pm
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 I’ve been reading some books on Neo-urbanism and have found the movement pretty fascinating.  The idea is a throwback (with improvements) to the pre-war urban planning which consisted of a much higher population density than we currently have.  The result was more efficient use of space, more nearby amenities and a closer sense of neighborhood. This is why I like and we enjoy the loft district on Washington Ave. here in St. Louis, though it’s only our temporary home.  It’s the ultimate counter-weight to sub-urban sprawl.

A result of packing more people and amenities into a smaller area is that the community is more intertwined, for better or worse.  Last night we got the experience of the ‘worse’ part of the close proximity of the loft district.  At 3:30am the attached Copia Urban winery and restaurant caught on fire.  This forced our entire loft building and another building to evacuate immediately for fear the fire would spread to our buildings.  Living on the 8th floor we were a bit freaked out since we needed to take the stairs down the entire way w/ our dog in tow.  Fortunately it all worked out, though we were freezing outside and inconvenienced for a number of hours.

The experience did bring to light the comfort we’ll have when living in our own home which is separated by at least 5 feet on each side.  During the wait we also become more acquainted w/ our neighbors  and we look forward to having them over some time soon. The upside was that everyone is sharing the same problem, so you’re not alone.

Copia Fire

Copia Fire 2

Copia Fire Ending


3 more Great Green Gifts December 28, 2007

Filed under: General Green 2.0,Live Green 2.0,St Louis — budint @ 9:42 pm
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To my surprise more green gifts (beyond the first which I shared) came my way for Christmas. In order from least to most impressive:

Green Gifts

1. Bio-degradable Pooch Pick-Up doggie poop bags. These bags are made with corn starch and are a great alternative to the everyday plastic bags which we’ve become so reliant upon.

2. The Killawatt energy monitor. This gift came from my little brother and last night I already put it to use by monitoring how much energy my wife’s laptop uses (60watts it turns out). This is a great little tool for really understanding what household appliances suck up the most energy. BTW, my laptop and 17″ LCD monitor use 58 watts combined.
3. The last and coolest gift was a 1yr adoption of a Bactrian Camel from the St Louis Zoo. I love camels so this was a very neat surprise to be a Zoo Parent. Apparently there is an annual Zoo Parent’s picnic which we can attend and hopefully my camel can attend as well.


Our Architect: Paul Brenden October 8, 2007

On the eve of what I expect to be the real beginning of construction (yes, I’ve said this a couple times, though I expect this week to be different) I’ve decided to introduce our architect. This is a short video clip of Paul discussing the thinking behind the design process which went into our place.  I plan on doing a series of these short video clips throughout the construction process to highlight the various sustainable and non-sustainable decisions we had to make.

Background: We found Paul Brenden at this smoky bar in South St Louis where the local architects hang out. Picture the bar in Star Wars where Luke Skywalker and Obi Wan meet Han Solo (see pic below).

Mos Eisley Cantina

Okay, well maybe he wasn’t at a mercenary bar, but I thought it’d be a cooler story if we had to walk down dark alleys and rub elbows with gun runners to meet our architect. The truth is that we met Paul through a word of mouth recommendation from my wife’s work colleague. Through a couple meetings (in person and on the phone) we realized that Paul shared a similar passion as we did and that he’d be perfect for the job.

The St Louis Rehabber’s club website has a decent little section on how to work with an architect.

Paul’s website is  And here’s another link to Paul and me presenting our project to the Tower Grove South Block Captain’s meeting a month ago.


St Louis in the cool crowd (among college grads at least) October 4, 2007

Filed under: St Louis — budint @ 9:03 pm
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This post isn’t about green, sustainability, recycling or construction. It’s about being cool. I’ve been preaching this fact for years to my friends (and no, I’m not originally from St Louis)

Summary: The Wall Street Journal is doing a series on cities which are popular among 20 somethings out of college (20-34 to be specific). Each week the journal highlights a different city. St Louis hasn’t been highlighted yet, but it IS on the list (see map) of popular cities. And I guarantee you that it’s one of the most affordable.


Thanks for reporting on this WSJ. Even though I’m still pissed about getting my paper delivered on average only 80% of the time.