Wednesday, November 7, 2007

How many earths does it take to support your lifestyle?

I ran across this fabulous Web site yesterday. It allows you to calculate how many earths it would take to sustain the world's current population if everyone lived like you. Fascinating stuff. I read the results of some folks who were using up 20 earths!

That couldn't possibly be me, I thought. We live in am odest house (1400 square feet), drve one car-- a 1997 Honda Civic hatchback that gets 35+MPG), grow a lot of our own vegetables in the summer, don't eat meat often, use rain barrels, work from home as often as we can, and recycle every last scrap of anything vaguely reusable.

I was smug for a minute until I realized that my total was a still 3.7 earths. Geesh. How much more do we have to do? I guess that's just another reason to keep greening the eco-ranch!

See what your score is. Feel free to post a comment about it. I'd love to hear your scores, too!

Here is the quiz

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Green flooring options...

When we moved in, the kitchen floor was a mess. It was covered in a 1960s dark red vinyl that was peeling along the seems. No matter how much I scrubbed it, or how many times I glued down the seems, there was just no saving it. So I went in shopping for a new floor.

Finding an eco-friendly option isn't all that easy. The manufacture of sheet and tile vinyl floors releases PVC into the environment and is considered by some groups to be the world's most toxic plastic. So the cheap, quick and easy fix was out... That's not even counting the glue.

Hardwood or laminate wood wasn't really an option. I've heard you aren't supposed to use that in kitchens and bathrooms because of water issues, and it would have been really hard to find something that looked good next to the home's original hardwood floor.

Natural stone was our next option. It looks good, it's natural, durable, etc. it also shows up on a list of sustainable products, although where the stone comes from and how far it has to journey to end up at your house can significantly diminish any eco benefit. Some groups suggest you only buy stones quarried near where you live. For us, that'd mean our choice was limited to sandstone, and frankly, that didn't sound too practical.

Ceramic tile is a decent eco-option. We're planning to use it in our main bathroom in the near future. And we almost used it in our kitchen until I wandered through a home show last year. That's where I discovered Marmoleum.

It's a new, high-tech linoleum product made from all-natural materials such as linseed oil, cork, and wood flour. You don't need glue to install it. It just clicks together. It's also super easy to clean, and just happens to look really nice.

It cost us about $9 a square foot without installation. The entire job ran us just under $3,000, to do the kitchen, eat in dining area and half bath. Not a small area.

This project was one whose value couldn't be measured in energy savings, like a new furnace or compact flourescent bulbs. That's usually a major criteria when deciding on eco-friendly renovations. But, we are very happy with our decision. Sure, it cost more than vinyl, but it makes us happy to know it didn't poison the neighborhood where it was made.

It also looks neat. Much different than any other flooring we've seen. Everyone who has visited us has commented on it. And, ultimately been fascinated by this new and improved floor.