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Adventures in Homeownership: It Isn’t Easy Being Green…Or Is It?

Sustainable Home Repairs vs. Green, what does it mean and where do I start and how do I go about it in a practical way?

As a child, my grandmother taught me to always stop and pick up trash left on the sidewalk. She stressed how important it is to recycle and reuse anything you possibly can. I pride myself on caring for the environment and, now that I own my own house, I’m trying to implement a few things to live more sustainably. The trouble with being “Green” or “Sustainable” is sorting through all the definitions and ideas associated with these concepts, but I think I have found some ways to carry out my grandmother’s legacy.

I start by recycling. Nary an item lands in my trash that can be recycled. I also love to grow things (my neighbor calls me “Farmer Jane”), but my backyard filled with small river rock (I have three dogs, no grass!) is not conducive to gardening. So, we built a 4 ft x 5 ft raised bed from some untreated lumber and put it on the part of the driveway that wasn’t being used. It gets great sunlight, and I am able to grow my staple vegetables and herbs and enjoy them all summer long. I drilled some drainage holes in an old garbage can with a lid, “borrowed” my dad’s pitch fork and – voila! – instant compost bin at little to no cost. (There are some great websites out there to help you set up the right balance of brown and green material to get a good mix of compost material.) This summer, I’ll install a rain barrel. Really, this is the year! Once the gutters are replaced, I’ll have the perfect corner for it. (If you’re thinking about one for your yard, don’t forget to check with your city about where you can locate them. Most cities don’t care if you have barrels on the side or back of the house, but many don’t allow them in the front.) There are also credits available through the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District for using them. Check out www.neorsd.org for more info. 

Now that I have my green habits in place, I am starting to focus on green and sustainable home repairs. Not only am I thinking about the planet and using renewable resources, but I’m also thinking about how to reduce my consumption and footprint. And, of course, it’s always important to keep costs in mind; remodeling more practically is not only smart for our environment, but also for your wallet. But, where to start? I mean, it doesn’t make sense to rush out to buy a new tankless water heater when your current one works fine, but there might be ways to make your current one more efficient….

There are a lot of things to consider when making these decisions, so doing your homework is a must. I ran across this great website from the U.S. Government, http://www.energysavers.gov, highlighting practical things you can do. Home Repair Resource Center is also putting on a series of free presentations, “Practical Sustainability: New Thinking for Older Homes,” with topics like kitchen remodeling, roofing, and determining a life plan of your home. Sessions are held once a month at the Cleveland Heights main library, starting April 11th. Check out http://www.hrrc-ch.org/EVENTS.HTM#SustainSeries for more details.

So, I hope you’ll consider the suggestion of this crazy fanatical recycler when you plan your next project, and take time to research sustainable measures that will pay off in the long run.

Until next time…what types of repairs are you considering this summer? Have you thought of your repairs in terms of green or sustainable materials? Leave a comment below.

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