Erika Howsare



No glass recycling? Let’s not toast to that.

No glass recycling? Let’s not toast to that.

When we were informed a few months ago that our home county, Nelson, would no longer take glass at its recycling center off Rte. 151, we certainly did not feel like breaking out the bubbly. We generate more glass than any other type of recyclable. So not to have an eco-approved outlet for that stuff has resulted in some major distress.

Let’s hear it for freecycle!

And, while we’re at it, let’s hear it for Apartment Therapy Re-Nest, one of my favorite green-living blogs. A while ago on Re-Nest I spotted this post, about turning a reclaimed futon frame into a lovely, Japanese-ish front gate for a city house.

You should go to GreenMatters

Why, you ask? Because, A), passive is the new active, and B), it’s free, not to mention C), it won’t last forever, plus D) all the carbon-neutral kids will be there. GreenMatters is the free green-your-home workshop series hosted by the Habitat Store, itself an essential resource for the reuse/recycle set, and it’s been chugging along for well over a year now. Anyone who’s gone to all the workshops since they began in May 2007 is, at this point, pretty well-versed in the basics of making one’s household a less impactful place.

Green-ranking cities: tricky business

Looky here: Another ranked list of American cities. This one’s all about who’s greenest among our fair nation’s 50 largest towns. It’s published by SustainLane.com, and I spotted it on the New York Times blog Dot Earth. If you want to get a quick taste of how complex a task it actually is to rank major urban areas on their so-called sustainability, read the comments on that post as well as SustainLane’s explanations of their methods. We’re talking some serious visual aids and some serious statistical angst, people.

Paying people not to pollute

No, I do not refer to cap-and-trade systems for controlling industrial emissions. I speak of an ad I spotted last week for the eco-fabulous Richmond grocer Ellwood Thompson’s, which is offering customers 25 cents off their bills if they walk, bike or take the bus to the store. It’s called the EnviroCredit, and the company’s website hints at more such initiatives to come.

Keep it simple, sustainable

Keep it simple, sustainable

Know what? If you paint the concrete floor of a bus maintenance garage white, it will encourage workers to keep it clean. And you know what else? If you line the hallways of a school with vertical wood planks interspersed with full-length mirrors, it will make students feel like they’re walking in the woods.

Sounder sleep

Sounder sleep

Now here’s a truly cool project. A bunch of UVA students (in architecture and engineering) spent last Friday assembling, at the Cobham home of architecture prof John Quale, structures they’d designed to shelter two sleeping people. The rules were that the structures had to be made from recycled, reclaimed or natural materials; that materials had to be recycled after the project; and that each structure could take no more than two hours to assemble and cost no more than $10.

Windy houses and a sunny school

So far, we haven’t seen any large-scale shift in American energy habits (the closest I’ve noticed are the stats about many drivers cutting down on their gas usage). But little changes are making news, like these two recent items about renewable energy coming to our area.

Another LEED house in Crozet!

Another LEED house in Crozet!

Back in the April issue of Abode, I wrote about a house Upstream Construction was building in Crozet for Brian and Joan Day. As I pointed out then, it’s notable not only because it’s a custom house with many green features, but because the Days are both environmental professionals who decided to open their house to the public during and after construction, so people could take a look and learn a thing or two. Well, Upstream recently wrapped up construction and the Days held a final open house event to show off their LEED-worthy dwelling.

Hello, conscious-living readers!

Boy, am I excited to be introducing our brand-new blog, Green Scene. I see this as a chance to talk with all of you on a regular basis about things that interest me anyway: everything from figuring out how to set up a rain collection system at my house, to local debates between developers and preservationists.