April 2009: Green Scene

April 2009: Green Scene

Reach for the recycled roll.

Soft TP, hard reality

Many of us are devotees of the softest toilet paper we can find in the store—after all, comfort is paramount. But the fluffier TP brands are harder on the environment, since the fibers that make the softer papers can only be taken from standing trees.

That’s why environmental groups like Greenpeace have started to push consumers to use brands made from recycled paper, even if they’re slightly less plush. You’d give up a wee bit of luxury to save a 200-year-old tree, wouldn’t you? Of course you would. Perfectly comfy recycled brands are available at local stores like Integral Yoga and Rebecca’s Natural Food. And please put the seat down.




Give me some credit!

Want to get more “green” for your Green this April? Thanks to President Obama’s new stimulus package, your green renovations can give you a fiscal bump in the right direction. Raising tax credits up from 10 to 30 percent of your upgrade costs and the max credit limit from $500 to $1,500, these updates to the tax code encourage refitting older homes with more efficient and green-conscious innovations such as replacement windows, high-efficiency heating/cooling systems, and insulation.

As for heat pumps, solar panels, and other alternative energy-based systems, 30 percent is also the rule, and the credit limit has been uncapped there completely. 

What you get: water and energy savings from efficiency boosting upgrades and an oh-so-sweet tax reprieve. Plus, recent studies show that retrofitting is four to eight times more efficient than changing energy standards for new homes, making renovation the eco-conscious way to go. It’s win-win all around, amigos—put on your greenest hard hat to give your pockets some extra jingle. Click here for forms and specifics.—Lucy Zhou

Greening the Home Show

Bricks and bushes a la mode, coming right up: April 10-12, the annual Home & Garden Show comes to John Paul Jones Arena, courtesy of the Blue Ridge Homebuilders Association and a laundry list of over 100 local businesses, now expanded to include home and garden products. 

What’s this mean, green-wise? This year, there’s a new series of seminars you can attend to learn about everything from home energy audits to sustainable flooring. Industry professionals such as Chuck Bowles, representing EarthCraft House Virginia, will offer food for thought about recent trends in green building, and present info and options for homeowners seeking to head down that track themselves. Other programs include indoor air quality and water conversation. 

Come to hear what’s buzzing in the eco-building biz and feel free to bring the tots for kid-friendly programming. Admission is $5 per person but free for kids under 12: see blueridgehomeshow.org/ for the deets.—L.Z.

Let’s talk chicken

“It’s an interesting mix,” says Guinevere Higgins of the Charlottesville League of Urban Chicken Keepers (CLUCK)—“people who have had chickens for years, people who just got chickens, people who really want to get chickens.” As such, the newly formed group is a great place to get info if you’re in the latter two categories. And if you’re already the guardian of some backyard hens, it’s a resource for cooperating with other folks on stuff like chick orders and feed purchases.

“It’s about sharing info—‘Where did you get your birds? What breeds did you like the best? How do you deal with possums?’” says Higgins. She also sees the group as a source of public education (for example, on the question of whether chicken-keeping causes noise or odor in a neighborhood) and as a way to organize egg donations to families in need.

If you’ve got a nesting instinct, hook up with CLUCK through Higgins’ blog, hensinthehood.blogspot.com, or find CLUCK on Facebook.—Erika Howsare

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