I did not want to do this. I really didn't. I wasn't ready to buy a house—and I wasn't ready to make it green. But then I fell in love. The house is an 84-year-old gem. The kind of home people say has "good bones." And she does. The two-story structure boasts original fixtures, gorgeous hardwood floors (oak, pine and maple) and a beautiful organic garden. The house had two owners prior to me (the first was born here). It holds love, care and light.
I decided to view the home on a lark. As you'll see in upcoming photos, it's nothing special from the outside. But when you walk in, everything changes. I stood in the doorway and looked through the porch onto the garden and gave thanks for this incredible blooming tree. My friend Annie leaned into me and whispered, "You have to buy it." Let me repeat, I was not ready! But then Annie asked, "When will you be?" She reminded me that this house had all the quiet, space and sunshine I said I wanted, in my favorite neighborhood, within walking distance of the university where I teach and the sweet downtown where I spend much of my leisure time. (Plus, the walk to school is straight uphill. It will be great for my glutes.) I let go of my fear. Three hours later, I made an offer. And about 23 hours after that, it was accepted.
I am a journalism professor, a working journalist who focuses on sustainability and someone folks like Oprah have called "an eco-expert." It's true I know a thing or two about Mother Earth, but there is always more to learn. (And I reserve that eco-expert title for icons likeWangari Maathai.) I have experienced much of our natural world in the once-removed fashion of the urban apartment dweller. I have never mowed a lawn, my ex weather-stripped our apartment and my landlord installed mylow-flow showerhead. I held seeds for the first time two years ago at an incredibleurban farmin Kansas City. And while I have told millions of people aboutwater conservationandenergy reduction, I have never owned a dual-flush toilet or had an opportunity to really consider myinsulation. Now is my chance to embrace the well-worn clichés: walk my talk and put my money where my mouth Now is my chance to embrace the well-worn clichés: walk my talk and put my money where my mouth is. You are going to bear witness to this green girl going green. I know that my reputation and your trust are paramount. To that end, I am not going to hold back. You are going to bear witness to my messy, humbling process of making my home more energy-efficient, less polluting and more beautiful.
I will share small and large changes that reap the greatest benefit (to your pocketbook and to the planet) and let you in on the products I am using. Some of the companies have given me a break on the cost, for which I am most grateful. But the truth is, I was going to buy them anyway and had budgeted accordingly. If they are good enough for me, I am going to assume you will like them too. And if something doesn''t work for me, you will learn that too.
If you have contemplated making your home more environmentally friendly, join me. With terrific federal energy efficiency tax credits in place for 2009 and 2010 and a groundswell of information about how we are effecting the world around us, there is no better time to get started. You can start small withweather-stripping around doors and windows or get more ambitious with insulation or energy-efficient furnaces. Don't worry. I will cover all of it. I may not do all if it myself, but I will try. Well, at least some of it. (My friends are determined for me to DIY.)
The first things I will be tackling are: getting rid of the brown recluse spiders that live in my basement and are known to make your flesh die (yes, die), insulating my ceiling (a major escape hatch for heat) and redoing my walls and floors. I believe my home should be a reflection of all that I care about. I strive to create a healthy and rejuvenating refuge that integrates my passions and values and nurtures my mind, body and soul...a home, sweet, home.