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Your Greener Self in 5 Minutes: Reducing Plastic

Your time is valuable, so let’s cut to the chase! Here are some quick and approachable ways you can reduce your everyday single-use plastic.   Refuse plastic cutlery! It is estimated that the U.S. disposes of 40 billion plastic cutlery pieces annually (https://www.plasticstoday.com/packaging/eating-our-way-out-plastic-waste-dilemma/25470102124494). The energy in extracting raw materials, manufacturing, packaging, marketing, shipping, and disposal can all totally be avoided! If you’re honest with yourself, plastic cutlery isn’t a very pleasant experience, anyway. Tip:  Spork with washable pouch. My Etsy shop, Carbon Neutral Goods, sells these pouches for your cutlery. I carry a spork because it’s so convenient for 90% of my meals, and weighs less in my purse than a whole cutlery set. If you purchase a spork pouch CLICK for more

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Introducing Carbon Neutral Goods: A New Kind of Shopping!

Carbon Neutral Goods is a new Etsy shop selling fashion goods with a carbon neutral footprint. Check it out here! The shop inspiration comes from The Ecology of Commerce by Paul Hawken. I have been a fan of Hawken for some years now, and this book has revolutionized the way I view free enterprise and the environment.  I’ve always had an abstract idea of the degradation and lack of accountability companies have for their environmental footprint, but Hawken makes the argument that if we require companies to include the total embodied carbon footprint in the cost of a product and service, it will evolve our economy and society – for the better! He argues, “We require political, environmental, and business communities CLICK for more

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Greenbuild 2017 – Expo top products!

Let’s face it – expos are not fun when you’re 10 and your parents drag you to the local home & garden expo to see new pavers, showers, and mailboxes. But when you’re an eco-conscious architect who’s looking for new ways to improve the status quo – the 2017 Greenbuild Expo floor is a wealth of inspiration! Here are our top 3 picks from the 3 day conference: AirIQ by Biome – This is a concentrated at-home air quality test.  It has a super low cost of entry starting at $249/bottle.  It’s basically a mason jar-sized bottle that you leave anywhere you’d like to test, for several hours.  You then send the bottle to their lab and within two weeks receive the results CLICK for more

the finest cloth

There is No Beauty

THERE IS NO BEAUTY IN THE FINEST CLOTH IF IT MAKES HUNGER AND UNHAPPINESS. MAHATMA GHANDI I have recently been taken with the Adam Ruins Everything movement – first the videos, now the podcast.  I love that he has a fresh take on social injustice and explaining the ills of the world in a logical, albeit tragic, way.  This is why I would like to bring to your attention his latest podcast episode: “Why Fast Fashion Fails Us.”  I am primarily concerned with the waste stream as it relates to the building industry and my own consumption, and the latter is where this fits in.  I have been learning so much lately about the clothing industry and really taking the time to consider my CLICK for more

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Living Building Challenge in Georgia – The Mohawk Light Lab

A few office-mates and I had the recent pleasure of touring the Mohawk Light Lab in Dalton, Georgia. This is the first Living Building Challenge petal-certified project in the state of Georgia, so needless to say, we were pumped! First of all, if you aren’t familiar with the Living Building Challenge, it is a green building rating system start in Seattle  in 2006 and is a rigorous green building rating system administered by the International Living Future Institute.  The rating system is a sort of reaction to LEED that promotes buildings that are regenerative and actually give back to their surroundings. More info on the LBC can be found here. We made our way to Dalton from Atlanta for the CLICK for more

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Healthy Living Starts with a Healthy Environment – Part 1: Cleaning

As a designer, I can attest to the belief that we can impact the world through design.  This is a reason why I try to focus on green strategies – if we are imp acing the world, someone’s world, through the built environment, why not make it as healthy as possible for all those affected? I will be making a series of blog posts regarding healthy environments – where we eat, work, breathe, play, grow, and live out all of our days.  I want to equip you on seeing a healthy environment as a societal expectation: expect your city to pick up and dispose of your recycling properly; expect your cleaning service to use eco friendly products for your sake and the CLICK for more

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rammed earth iv

Making Progress I have every other Friday off from my internship in the city, so I’ve been alternating when I come down to Sunnyvale to work.  It’s a nice break from the city – open space, warm, quiet.  Day IV landed on a Saturday – a busy one for the farm, too, as they were preparing for a big fundraising event that evening. There was still a group coming to the garden to learn and help out for a few hours, and I had the opportunity of utilizing some man-power.  This brought me back to my Habitat for Humanity days of managing a team without having a clear direction of what exactly needed to happen.  Regardless, we had a good CLICK for more

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rammed earth iii

Breaking Ground So there was enough talk leading up to this – it was time to break ground! You can see pictured above John digging out the layer of mulch on top and then a few inches of soil until we arrived at the more solid stuff, on which we laid the rocks.  I overshot how much gravel we needed, but thankfully when it is moved by tractor, it can easily be moved yet again.  We made the aggregate slab 24″ wide, to allow a few inches leeway for the wall. After completing this, I searched out the best soil to use from my available options onsite.  I decided on the one pictured above, that had the smallest trace of CLICK for more

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rammed earth ii

This day, after finding out where my project was to be located, I got to work laying out the dimensions for the foundation slab.  It is nice how resources, people, and information can all come together precisely when I need it.  I was under the impression that, especially being in California where there are seismic conditions, that I would need to use a concrete slab, and possibly add rebar. Research First! I spoke with several people and found out that for the scope of my project and its proportions this wouldn’t be necessary.  This is definitely to my advantage because, though I’ve mixed concrete by hand on a service trip in Mexico once, that was more than enough (I recall CLICK for more