Making a green decision isn’t always easy. The cost can be daunting, labeling isn’t always as helpful as it should be, and let's not get started on the myriad of marketing gimmicks out there. Eve Troeh from NPR's Marketplace Sustainability Desk was on stage today with architects and designers to help us out with our green conundrums. We caught Eve just before she held her first discussion to flesh out a little more information about her two panels and some words of advice to live by. "Ask yourself, 'Do I really need to buy something new to achieve my goal?'" she advises.
Hi, Eve. Can you tell us about the first panel you’re moderating?
The first panel focuses on consumer issues surrounding sustainability. We wanted to look into sustainability from the side of people trying to buy sustainable products. Then we talked to designers about how they design sustainable products to give people who buy them a better idea of all the different factors that are in play.
We’re trying to simplify that consumer landscape for people. Rather than looking for this label and that label, asking if this certification means something or if this company is really doing something, we give just simple rules for trying to buy sustainable products.
What’s the second panel about?
The second panel is the “Dollars and Cents of Greening Your Home.” I’m talking to Bill Baldwin of Hartman/Baldwin who has restored a lot of homes. They also did a remodel of a Greene & Greene Arts and Crafts bungalow. Not only was it beautiful, but it earned a Green Point rating, which is a California system for energy efficiency. The second part will cover all the tax breaks that people can get right now.
How did you choose Bill Baldwin for the second panel?
Well, when we think of green building, we often think of new buildings and fancy technology, but you can take a home from the early 1900s, not change the look of it at all, and have it perform well on energy efficiency.
So, for people who can’t come to the panels, what simple advice can you give them that they can do in the next two or three days?
If you’re really someone trying to buy sustainable products, really think about sustainability. Ask yourself, “Do I really need to buy something new to achieve my goal? Do I really need to buy that reusable bamboo, knife, fork and spoon set? Or, could I just wash the plastic fork I got with my takeout and use that again?”
It’s not sexy, but real sustainability stuff is not sexy. It’s reusing stuff, buying things that can be fixed and cleaned. For me, a white sofa is not sustainable because I won’t ever be able to maintain it. Look at sustainability not from a new or technological point of view, but also taking into consideration timeless aesthetic, materials and value.