100% Recycled Countertops

Thinking about a kitchen remodel this spring? Keeping it Green is an important consideration when looking at cabinet and countertop options. Have you considered paper? Yes, Paper!

Richlite, has brought to the market a durable, hard surface material created from paper. Eco-friendly and beautiful, fibers can come from a variety of sources; virgin wood fibers, post consumer waste, recycled blue jeans, coffee chaff, burlap bags, banana peels, etc. Color is added during the paper making process instead of the paper saturating process to ensure consistent and solid color throughout. Stain, Scratch and Heat resistant, as well as durable and sustainable. I found it especially interesting, as extended overhangs can be created up to 24″ without additional support. A great material for an island overhang, or how about a dining table top?

Richlite r50 contains 50% post-consumer waste fibers from old corrugated cardboard.
Richlite r100 and Grays Harbor contain 100% post-consumer waste fibers and are FSC® Certified 100% Recycled. These materials have a great look, as the fibrous material has some subtle texture and depth, but also develops a patina over time, much like a beautiful stone would.  Sustainable, and beautiful.

Image and excerpts sourced at Richlite.

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You may have seen the word LOHAS in your reading or shopping in recent years.  The name, which is an acronym for Lifestyles of Health and Sustainability, is a growing community of people and businesses committed to researching and developing a range of products and services all designed to give us more choices as concerned consumers.

LOHAS focuses on six key market sectors that, combined, influence nearly everything you might use in your daily life. For example,

  1.  The PERSONAL HEALTH sector includes things like natural, organic products, integrative health practices;
  2.  The GREEN BUILDING sector covers renewable energy systems, Energy Star appliances and sustainable flooring;
  3.  NATURAL LIFESTYLES focuses on products such as organic cleaning supplies and compact fluorescent lights;
  4. ALTERNATIVE ENERGY programs like renewable energy credits.
  5.  ECO TOURISM, which includes eco-tourism and eco-adventure travel; and,
  6.  ALTERNATIVE TRANSPORTATION, which includes research and development of hybrid vehicles, biodiesel fuel and car sharing programs.

Combined, these sectors comprise an estimated $290 billion marketplace.  We believe in the LOHAS mission and think that their influence can already be felt with the growing popularity (and demand) for organic foods, eco-friendly cleaning products, hybrid cars and CFL light bulbs.

If you’d like to learn more about LOHAS or explore how you can get involved, the group holds a conference every June in Boulder, Colorado– the LOHAS Forum.

There are also a number of regional networking events across the country throughout the year.


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A {green} paradise…

I was flipping through some of my old magazines and this image literally stopped me in my tracks. I had to turn a few pages back to see where this is. To my complete amazement, this beautiful open space is actually a living room. Yup, not a resort lobby or anything like that, but a home that belongs to a family of four in Bali. There's also a five-story thatch-roofed pagoda built for their two daughters, where their bedrooms are. In order to get to the main house, the girls could either walk across a bridge or tiptoe on stepping stones… it's like a page out of a storybook! Too good to be true? Well, here's more… the pagoda was built with sustainability in mind. Made of salvaged teak and grass thatch, it certainly is a good practice to behold by the girls, and to grown-ups for that matter. The staircase (pictured below) in the main house is made of reclaimed wood. Supporting columns for the house are salvaged ironwood electrical poles, recovered and reused by the family when a local utility company upgraded to concrete. Love how they brought the local colors into their home as well – using saris as their shower curtains for example. But you know what makes me really fall in love with this home? The intimacy that it creates, even with the wide and open living spaces, it speaks family time to me, lots of it – and nothing is better than family time…


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Birds Of A Feather Flock Together

My visit to the Smart Home at the Chicago Museum of Science + Industry, proved to be a launching pad for investigation for me and my family. I have found one of the greatest gifts of motherhood is the opportunity to learn and create together. Sometimes the simple questions, like “where do our eggs come from”, provides a spontaneous opportunity to design.
I recently picked up the Young Readers Edition of the Omnivores Dilemma by Michael Pollan, for my boys to read.  If you are familiar with the original book, the new version for kids is a welcome introduction to the “secrets behind what you eat”. It has prompted some lively dinner discussion at my house, and investigation into our daily life design choices.
Discussions have ranged from “what really is organic”, to grass fed cattle, and startling imagery into the real meaning of “free range”. The challenge, when you have the information in hand, is what to do with it. We feel the responsibility to design a solution. What can I do to make a difference? A child’s capacity to embrace the opportunity for change is inspiring. All is possible. It’s simple. Never mind our village doesn’t allow it, or it might be difficult, or laborious; “Let’s just do it, Mom”. What a gift to see the world with such promise.
So, what exactly is Free Range?
The Prefab Chicken Coop is a thing of beauty, designed with function at the core, and expressed in a pleasing modern aesthetic, to complement any home. They can go almost anywhere, and seem right at home in an urban or suburban setting.  By reducing environmental impacts and encouraging domestic farming techniques, residential chicken coops offer a more sustainable farming method.  A few of our favorites follow.
Breed Retreat
Chicken Cribs
Omlet  Eglu


Yanko Design  Cocorico

We have learned some interesting things along the way.

"Did you know that just two chickens will provide you with between 10 and 12 delicious, fresh eggs a week? And it's so convenient, instead of going to the store on Sunday morning you can now collect your breakfast from the backyard"!  Omlet.com

“Chickens really aren't noisy. They get happy when they lay eggs and like to share the good news, but they don't make a lot of noise. There is actually no need for a rooster unless one plans to hatch eggs.  Chickens are warm and charming creatures that will love you, provide fantastic fertilizer for your garden and leave you wonderful edible gifts every day that are not full of chemicals or cruelty”. Majordojo.com
Life. One inspired design solution at a time.
Photographs courtesy of Yanko Design,  Omlet, , Chicken Cribs,  http://www.roije.com

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Eco Inspiration

Smart Home: Green + Wired
I recently visited the Museum of Science + Industry Chicago, to find design inspiration at the Smart Home: Green + Wired exhibit. Designed by Architect Michelle Kaufann, the home is full of ideas for living life with eco principles in mind.
The Smart Home debuted in 2008, and has recently been redesigned for 2010. I visited with my family, to explore the new design elements, and technologies.  As a family we perform the expected rituals of environmental stewardship well, such as recycling, composting, water conservation and reuse. We even grow our own food, when the Chicago climate permits. We came to the museum looking for new ideas and new challenges to fuel our life choices.
The Smart Home is a modular, pre-fabricated structure.  The exhibit displays concepts and technologies which reduce both energy use and footprint.   The Smart Home was constructed off site, in about eight weeks. The module was built on an assembly line in a climate controlled environment. Architect Michelle Kaufman has stated this is 60% faster, and more environmentally friendly than traditional on site construction.

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