The word green has many colloquial meanings in America. It means envious. It means brand new. Some say it even means horny, but recently green has become the new catch word for things that are environmentally beneficial. If you tell your friends you live in a green house, some might think you live with a lot of potted plants, but the savvy ones will know that it’s good to be green.
Sure, we know we should recycle, carpool and get our cars’ emission tested, but turns out that that’s just the tip of a quickly disintegrating iceberg.
To really be green, you should change the way you think about everyday things around the house. But how? If only there was a place you could go to learn how to transform your house into an eco-friendly space. Some place nearby with ideas galore and no pushy sales people. There used to be a place called the “Green House” on display at the Puyallup Fair that was owned by Pierce County. When it was put out to pasture, City of Tacoma bought it and “recycled” it into a fully updated, upgraded, remodeled “green” house called EnviroHouse. Remodeling, design and landscape services were provided by Bates Technical College, BCRA, City of Tacoma Streets and Grounds Division, Morley-DeLoma Architects, Tacoma Public Utilities Grounds Maintenance Division, The Berger Partnership, Washington Conservation Corps and York Enterprises.
EnviroHouse demonstrates that ecologically responsible living can be elegant, efficient and easy. It looks like a cute little cottage, and it has signs everywhere, like a museum, explaining its features.
There are conservation messages throughout the house from several different organizations including City of Tacoma’s Solid Waste Management, Surface Water Management, Waste Water Management, Tacoma Power and Tacoma Water.
According to City of Tacoma’s community relations person, Michelle Warmuth, Tacoma’s landfill was chosen as the location for EnviroHouse because the landfill gets a lot of traffic, especially on the weekends, and it’s a place where people who are there to drop off recycled materials can see their recycled goods at work.
The EnviroHouse sidewalk is made of rubber recycled from tires. The deck is made of sustainable tigerwood. The paint used has low- or no-VOC (volatile organic compounds).
Inside the house there are a ton of “green” idea’s including things you might not ever consider, such as counters made of recycled paper, tiles made of recycled glass, floors made of sustainable bamboo wood, and furniture made from organic fabrics.
Energy-saving ideas shown include use of compact fluorescent bulbs and Energy Star certified appliances (dishwasher, water heater, refrigerator, washer and dryer, etc). Also, there is a display inside the house featuring insulation made from several different kinds of recycled materials.
Water conservation ideas include harvesting rain with rain barrels, using low-flow showerheads and faucets (which are not to be confused with low-pressure!) and landscaping with native plants. The environmental advantage of using native plants is that they require less water, fertilizers and pest chemicals.
There is also some remarkable art displayed throughout EnviroHouse made from recycled materials, including works using recycled plastic and other mixed media by Diane Kurzyna, aka Ruby Re-Usable (www.rubyreusable.com); works inspired by trees, paper and unwanted books by Holly A. Senn (www.ryksenn.com); and handbags, hats, baskets and sculptures made from recycled plastic bags by Barbara De Pirro (www.depirro.com).
Another nice aspect to EnviroHouse is they treat the gas car drivers equally as well as the hybrid drivers, but if you toss your soda can in the regular trash bin you had better duck.
[EnviroHouse at City of Tacoma Landfill, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday-Friday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, free, 3510 S. Mullen St., Tacoma, 253.573.2426]