The emphasis during my stay at the SpringLeaf eco-development’s Green House in Boulder, Colo., was “smart living.” Although the house came with all the eco-bells and green whistles and was stocked with natural foods and products, I learned a lot about how you can make your own house greener without embarking on a pricey remodel or overhaul.
Here are some cool ideas for green living, room-by-room.
I loved the organic bedroom I stayed in. The natural wool carpet was soft under bare feet—and there was no toxic glue smell (thanks to the low-VOC glue) that normally gives me a headache.
I slept wonderfully on a natural latex and wool mattress from Urban Mattress, a Colorado company. Completing the bed were healthy linens from a Boulder company called Suite Sleep. It included an organic-cotton mattress pad, sheets (colored with low-impact dyes), a comfy wool-stuffed pillow with organic-cotton cover, and a wool-fill comforter that was light and perfect for Colorado’s cool nights.
The wool in the bed was Oregon Tilth Certified Organic, meaning it was taken from humanely treated sheep and cleaned with mild, biodegradable soap (as opposed to harsh, caustic chemical detergents).
Plush organic-cotton towels were furnished by Suite Sleep, and Burt’s Bees, provided all the soaps, shampoo, conditioner, body lotion, lip balm and facial cream. Burt’s Bees is a natural skin-care company that incorporates natural beeswax or honey into all its products.
The dual-flush Kohler toilet can save an average household approximately 2,000 gallons of water each year. Low-flow showerheads and faucets also reduce water waste.
To keep that water clean, without chlorine taste, 3M Clean Water Solutions installed under-the-counter Full Flow water filter. Boulder’s water is fairly clean to begin with, but it’s nice brushing your teeth with water that tastes fresh and clear.
I especially loved the sink backsplash (also repeated in the shower), made of recycled-windshield glass. The glass was polished, and it’s faintly green tint and pebbly look added a decorative and eco-friendly touch.
Hiking in Boulder and Movie Night
We had a busy day learning about sustainability, but it was fun. For instance, we got out and explored Boulder’s Wonderland Lake trails in Adrenaline ASR7 athletic shoes from Brooks. These lightweight runners have some great green features, including:
- biodegradable midsole
- laces made from 100 percent recycled materials
- water-based adhesives
- nontoxic dyes and colorants
- packaging is 100 percent post-consumer recycled
Then, after dinner we had Movie Night. First we screened Dive!, a thought-provoking yet humorous documentary about the problem of wasted food that winds up in the landfill. It follows filmmaker Jeremy Seifert and friends as they dumpster dive in the back alleys and gated garbage receptacles of Los Angeles’ supermarkets.
Next we donned 3-D glasses and put the LG Energy Star LED “Infinia” television with 3-D technology to the test with IMAX Under the Sea 3-D. The picture was clear and realistic, especially when those fish swim straight at you. And the screen was huge, yet slim. The wattage it uses is less than half that of a picture-tube TV.
Yes, we journalists had to do a few household chores, just to keep it real. At the end of the trip, we brought our sheets and towels to the laundry room, equipped with an LG Energy Star front-load Steamwasher with allergen-removal capability (for those people sensitive to dust mites and dander). Using a front-loader machine uses 50 percent less water and 86 percent less energy than a top-loader.
We also experimented with the LG “Kompressor” vacuum, which is certified by the Asthma and Allergy Foundation and holds three times the dirt of conventional vacs. And yes, it really sucks.
Coming next: All About the Green Home Kitchen
—Laurel Kallenbach, freelance writer and editor