Thursday, April 19, 2012

Green Planters, Green Building and Bamboo

Chrysanthemum planter

My planters at work are pretty much finished. I have finally stuck in caladiums and begonias, the plants that can't take the cold but add lots of color and excitement. My goal is to find perennials that will work well in containers. This saves tons of labor for me and also saves on materials and greenhouse energy costs. My latest fascination is texture and shape. I enjoy the green on green look with a little extra thrown in to grab attention.

This is a planter that I have converted from mostly begonias (which I dearly love) to chrysanthemum, verbenna, and creeping jenny (from tallest to lowest). These are tough, tough plants and only the verbena is the least bit touchy.
Four ivy planter

Here is another tried and true that I love. These four kinds of ivy couldn't be easier now that they are established and look awesome (IMHO).

Yes, I am focused, I want THAT look, but I want it easy and I want it GREEN. And speaking of green, I have been looking at some green building stuff on-line. A reader asked my opinion about bamboo flooring she was considering after I wrote about barter and goods made in China (See Pickle Tasting and Barter blog post). This is a helpful question for me since we are planning on building in the next year or two (God willing).

So here is some of what I found. Bamboo is not a US harvested product that I could tell so it won't be sourced in the USA. It is considered very sustainable since the bamboo plant is really sort of a giant grass and grows in three to five years instead of 30 to 100 years like an oak tree. LEED gives points for bamboo flooring since it is sustainable. However, there are some negative production issues (VOC's I think) associated with the binders that hold the fibers together. Also, you can be pretty sure that, like coffee fair trade issues, if it is pretty cheap, someone isn't getting paid a very fair price for land, labor, or material. There is an added issue, some of the bamboo farming practices are pretty devastating to the environment, part of that turning a quick buck thing. There is at least one flooring company, Teragren, that says they are committed to fair trade for bamboo workers/growers.

In summary, here is a link explaining the issues associated with bamboo flooring and the different factors to consider when choosing “Green”. You have to decide what is most important to consider and “always let your conscience be your guide” (singing along with Jiminy Cricket and Pinocchio in my head). And just to stir the pot a little more, here is a cool product to look at and compare to other options just to get an idea of the kinds of options out there- Marmoleum. Also if you are considering building or remodeling, the LEED certification guidelines are an awesome educational starting point for Green-architecture and building (LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design). Thanks for the question Gloria!

Some parts of Green are easy- (hanging clothes on my solar dryer). Some parts aren't so easy- deciding if killing more deer would help prevent tick borne diseases or picking out the “best flooring”, or understanding all the LEED guidelines. But being aware, asking questions and intentionally choosing instead of blindly following is a great start. We live on an amazing planet we should do what we can!

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