Happy almost-Fourth-of-July! Whatever you have planned this weekend, make sure your Independence Day is safe, sound, and sustainable as possible. There are tips and tidbits aplenty floating around MNN to lead you in the right direction: a great interactive piece on eatin’ local, a fascinating article on the environmental impact of fireworks, an advice column where Vanessa Vadim ruins the party, suggestions on what lower-impact BBQ charcoals and lighting devices to buy, and even tips of how to keep your pet from having a firework-induced nervous breakdown.

I’ll be out on Fire Island, New York, catching up on reading, slathering myself in sunblock, and performing a special green home audit: “The Summer Share Edition.” Keep an eye out for that next week. In the meantime, get your long holiday weekend started with these fresh green home links. 

The Los Angeles Times finds a diamond in the rough at last weekend's Dwell on Design show: The Hero 365 Rain Collector. This modern rain barrel isn't cheap (about $475) but it's certainly the most attractive rain harvesting device that I've ever laid eyes on. (photo on left) 

The New York Times also has news on the rain collection front: the act of harvesting rainwater is now legal in the state of Colorado. It's still vorboten in some states like Washington (are you reading this Dad?).

Ecosalon presents a "Handy Reference Guide to the 20 Greenest Materials." On the list: rice hulls, reclaimed rubber, felt, cork, and more.

The Guardian throws out an interesting statistic: gardening for an hour is more likely to result in injury than riding a bike for the same amount of time.

Dwell chats with Dror Benshetrit about his new home line for Target. The collection (love the Mamma Nature-inspired pillows) looks great and Dror is a super nice guy, to boot ... he was one of my first interviews when I started writing about design back in the dark ages (2004). 

Fast Company heads to the roof with an article on aesthetically pleasing solar roofing tiles from Philadelphia-based design firm Bresslergroup. They're called Solé Power Tiles.

Re-Nest asks if Smart Stones, decorative garden stones made from recycled shopping bags, are "hot or not?" 

Architectural Record heads Down Under with a look at the Bridge House in Ashbourne, South Australia. This striking, energy- and water-smart home designed by Max Pritchard straddles a creek like an, ummm, bridge. 

Jetson Green travels north to take a gander at the Maison IDEKIT home in Quebec that's made from seven recycled shipping containers. 

The Wall Street Journal comes bearing good news: McMansions are officially declasse (at least for now) as housing trends move towards smaller, more efficient abodes. 


Image: Hero 365; thumbnail: Admella

Matt Hickman ( @mattyhick ) writes about design, architecture and the intersection between the natural world and the built environment.

Playing catch up: red, white, and green
Before you start grilling and lighting stuff on fire in honor of the US of A, take a moment to peruse these green home links.