The Arizona Republic reports that Americans are gaga for green, buying every eco-friendly product manufacturers and marketers can possibly conjure: the new forest-friendly sofas at Crate & Barrel, compostable sweeping towels at Target, kitchen countertops fashioned from recycled US$5 bills.

But in dumpsters and landfills across the country, the green movement could be making a bit of a mess.

In the haste to be stylishly green, to do like Al Gore says and reduce our footprint on the Earth, there is waste implied: Something has to be done with all the non-green things to make room for sustainable bamboo flooring and chairs upholstered in hemp. That icky, dirty, can-you-believe-we-ever-liked-this carpet has to end up somewhere. An inconvenient truth, indeed.

It‘‘s an odd dichotomy, experts say. Consumption-crazed Americans love any excuse to spend. Save the Earth and remodel your kitchen. You‘‘ll feel virtuous and your cabinets will look fab. Environmentalists are grateful people are paying attention, even if this new fervor comes in part from Leonardo DiCaprio talking eco-chic at the Oscars, or Town & Country‘‘s recent green issue.

A green makeover

The next time the carpet has to go, at least it can be recycled.

Janice Jennings‘‘ Tempe kitchen got a green-over last summer: non-toxic paint, formaldehyde-free cabinets, the works. There is definite moral and fashionable cachet, she says, that is built into her kitchen. And she admits that, in the beginning, her motivation had little to do with the Earth.

“It was aesthetics that drew me to bamboo flooring,” says Jennings, a professor of interior design at Mesa Community College. “Nobody had it at the time, and I liked that because . .. you don‘‘t want what everybody else has.

“And then, I learned that it was a grass and that I wasn‘‘t depleting any natural resources, and it‘‘s contagious when you start doing it because you feel good.”

Jennings‘‘ new countertops are crafted of 40 percent post-industrial waste, “stuff from the manufacturing plant that would have gone to the dumpster,” she says, but some of her old kitchen cabinets were sent to the landfill.

She tried to recycle everything possible, donating to charities that accept building waste, persuading contractors to take home the cast-offs, “but it‘‘s an honest dilemma,” says Jennings, 40. “I know it‘‘s trendy when you see things like the Oscars . .. but I like to think it‘‘s a little deeper than that.”

Waste not counted

When scoring green buildings, the U. S. Green Building Council looks at how much of the new building was diverted from landfills but not at how much was wasted in the process, such as tearing down an old building to create a new green one, says Ashley Katz, a spokeswoman. The council administers the nationally acknowledged Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, or LEED, rating system, considered the national benchmark in green building.

“You can‘‘t change human nature,” says Mick Dalrymple, co-founder of A. K.A. Green in Scottsdale, a green building center. “People want to buy things that they like, and if you can show them how cool some of these things are, if you show them the tiles made from aircraft-window glass . .. then you‘‘re taking things out of the waste stream.”

Waste and cast-offs are “always going to be a little bit of an issue,” says Dalrymple, who is on the board of the Green Building Council. “But if we design products to be recyclable and more natural, then we can reduce the impact of that.”

It would be a stretch to persuade convenience-spoiled Americans to stop throwing things away. Cloth diapers are not ma

Ano da Publicação:
WARMER BULLETIN ENEWS #18-2007-May 04, 2007
Kit Strange/Warmer Bulletin
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