Well, folks it’s officially springtime although here in New York City you wouldn’t be able to tell as it’s still a dreary, dismal, and dark as one of those patented “beam me to Bermuda, please” days commonly experienced in early February. It’s been one hell of a winter. Now, c’mon spring, show yourself!
Despite the cruddy, never-ending winter weather here in the Northeast, it’s been a bang-up season for eco-friendly home and garden news. I certainly had plenty to blog about while cooped up inside for the past three months. Below, you’ll find 20 of the most memorable, most commented on posts from this past winter. Feel free to revisit or check ‘em out if you missed them the first time around.
And don’t fret: if and when spring actually hits Brooklyn, I’ll still be here to report on the best and the brightest in eco-friendly design, building, architecture, home improvements, gardening, and so on. What’s been your favorite post from this past winter? Was there a story that I missed that you would like to have seen featured? And are there any types of stories that you'd like to see me tackle this spring? I'm all ears!
• Beijing's incredible, inedible egg house — What's an architect to do when he can't afford to pay rent in one of the most expensive cities in the world? Erect a solar-powered, grass-clad, egg-shaped hut on the streets of Beijing, of course.
• The 22.8-year switch: GE's Energy Smart LED — GE's new light bulb is designed to serve as a direct replacement for the beloved but energy-wasting 40-watt incandescent light bulb used in many household fixtures.
• France's festive fir-to-fertilizer program — In Paris, old Christmas trees are collected and turned into mulch for trees of the non-Christmas variety in city parks.
• 'Tis the season for charitable giving: 10 green building/housing nonprofits — Finished up your holiday shopping but looking to give in another way? Consider donating to an organization that helps to improve the lives of others through sustainable building and housing efforts.
• To shred or not to shred — Before going on an end-of-year document-shredding spree, check to see if shredded paper is accepted by your local curbside pickup program and consider other ways to creatively recycle it.
• Watch: Californians cause fuss over smart meters — Residents of California's West Marin County aren't too thrilled about the widespread installation of smart meters. So they decide to block a road — and get hauled away by a local sherrif — to prove their point.
• If Martha builds it, will they come? — KB Home and 'Builder' magazine unveil an affordable, net-zero energy concept home with interior and landscape design by Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia at the 2011 International Builders' Show.
• Ladies and gents, the $7,000 toilet — Although they can be costly, investing in a water-conserving toilet with a bidet feature is a smart investment. And then there's Regio, a fully automatic, music-playing commode with one heck of a price tag.
• SkyMall: Green shopping at 40,000 feet? — Sure, you can buy a replica of King Tut's throne or a Bunion Regulator through SkyMall, but did you know you can also find a smattering of eco-friendly gizmos in the kitsch-filled catalog?
• There's no place like ... the 7 train — A Manhattan apartment up for sale incorporates items salvaged from the New York City subway. Not included? Rodents, panhandlers and bewildered tourists.
• Austin ordains Fred Durst as king of trash — The city of Austin reaches out to the public for ideas about a new name for its solid waste department. Turns out, when most residents think of solid waste, musician Fred Durst comes to mind.
• 2450 Solar Drive: Pink and possibly paranormal — Quick: Somebody call Ty Pennigton ... and a priest. 2450 Solar Drive, a never-occupied Hollywood Hills mansion with a history of satanic rituals and rumored supernatural activity is on the market for $15.2 million.
• California family leaves unwanted 'mark' on urban agriculture — Do you grow veggies on your apartment rooftop? Well, be mindful of how you refer to it. The terms 'urban homsteading' and 'urban homestead' are now trademarked by a California family.
• Cat-library: A feline-friendly shelving system — Does Madame Fluff wreak havoc every time she attempts to scale a bookcase? Make things a bit easier for her — while staying organized — with the Cat-Library, a modular shelving system with a kitty staircase.
• Toy oven to get energy-efficient makeover — While incandescent light bulbs march towards extinction, a certain incandescent bulb-based national treasure, the Easy-Bake Oven, will continue on in a more energy-efficient form.
• Revenge of the low-flow toilets — San Francisco's love of low-flow toilets has not been without consequence — most notably a pungent summertime stench. Now, the city plans to use bleach to combat the odor.
• A BubbleRoom of one's own — BubbleTrees are portable, prefab dwellings meant for fancy camping trips, but you also could inflate one in your backyard as a see-through garden retreat.
• Eerily eco-friendly:Inside a zero-waste home — After downsizing, the Johnson family of Mill Valley, Calif., goes on a serious waste-curbing campaign. But has this family of four lost that distinct sense of home in the process?
• New York's temple of reuse: A visit to Materials for the Arts — If you're a New Yorker in the process of remodeling, uncluttering or moving, consider donating any cast-offs to Materials for the Arts.
• Earthships a possibility in Japan — Earthship Biotecture's Michael Reynolds discusses the situation in Japan. Plus, Architecture for Humanity's Cameron Sinclair details his organization's plans for reconstruction in the devastated nation.