Posts Tagged 'design'

Tiny Cardboard Kitchen: Now With Links

Here’s the model so far:

kitchen 1

See, I drew a plan for it and everything.  The purple thing is the herb box under the window by the sink, which you have to imagine to the right of that counter top, and the compost bin (I’ll make it green) is going to the right of the sink.  Here’s some of the pieces set up on the plan:

kitchen plan

The squares in the middle there are the column supports (why, yes, I do have Corinthian columns in my kitchen), and to the right you can pick out the frame for the greenhouse, I hope!  On the left is a color study (scribble).  Considering the foamboard piles I’ve turned in before, I’m pretty proud of this kitchen so far.  I’ll show you the finished product in a couple days (just got the metal sheets for the fixtures tonight!).

I’ve actually been busy for this blog during the break- brainstorming on some environmental events for Alexandria (maybe news on that end soon!?), and plotting in general.  Let’s ease back in with some links, though, shall we?

This morning, the satellite to monitor international carbon outputs failed massively and utterly, in the way that only rocketry really can.  The satellite was supposed to aid international efforts to regulate carbon outputs by objective measurement- now, beyond figuring out what went wrong, the question is, try this one again with spare parts (without the explosion parts), or push it back to develop a new and better one?

The rainforest is growing back in some places, prompting debate on the environmental virtues of new vs old forests.

Germany just opened their new Antarctic Research Station.  It’s got a wicked stilt design to keep it all from sinking into the snow, and some pretty impressive waste management systems to keep the pole all pristine.

Our national electricity grid is currently regulated by the states?  Oh dear, no wonder it’s a bit outdated.  The Fed is finally thinking about taking that over to make a national smart grid to better distribute energy to everyone, from everywhere.  I’m a fan in general (energy is a national concern), but any states’-rights people want to try and make a case against this idea?

The NYT style section thinks it’s trendy to keep worms in your kitchen.  This could possibly be hard and smelly, they note.

And yes, I’ve failed to set a goal for this month, with five days left.  But I biked, and there was a little local action, and the compost and garden got some much-needed attention, so I can’t feel too guilty about that.  I’ll lay off until March.

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Green Design in my Basement: Part 3

Part the last, mostly dealing with my decision to invest in a minifridge.

Minifridges are great.  They combine fridges, which make wonderful things wonderfully cool, with tiny-and-cuteness.  But:  1) There’s already a fridge upstairs, and 2) I bought it from Walmart.

Now, the fridge upstairs is usually full, and I can barely squeeze in OJ, milk, and a tupperware container or two.  With a fridge in my basement, my food is easier to access, they have more space upstairs, and I have plenty of room to keep beer and leftovers for lunches.  Upstairs, space is not guaranteed.  So, while the fridge was not necessary for survival, it solved lots of potential problems for everybody in the house.

Now, as to Walmart:  Since I decided on getting the fridge, it needed to be efficient.  I did some research on small Energy Star fridges.  Haier makes a 4ft^3 one with a tiny freezer, and it uses 270kwh a year.  That was about as low as I found on the EnergyStar site- Samsung and Sub-Zero also have a few models with very low energy usage.  Most minifridges with EnergyStar ratings use above 300kwh a year.  When I was trying to figure out where to buy it, however, Walmart came back as the area store that actually stocked Energy-Star minifridges, and they had the Haier model available online with free site-to-store shipping.  Go figure.

This maybe should not be a surprise, though.  Walmart has been making impressive efforts to add ecofriendliness to their entire process- pushing organics and CFLs on their customers, installing solar panels on their stores, bullying their suppliers into more environmentally friendly packaging, and so on.  Since they’re the hugest retail chain ever, this is having a massive impact on the supply and purchase of green goods around the country.  I’m all for supporting companies who are actually making big, helpful environmental changes, and I like to communicate my support by buying green products I need from them.

But.  But! Of course, these green initiatives are not without their mistakes.  Plus, Walmart is intensely skeezy to their workers.  I’ve read the Ehrenreich book, I keep up with their latest anti-union antics, and they’re still mostly selling cheap junk from China.  Also, their teen fashion section is terrifying.  I get all the very good reasons to not support them, or the way they run their business.

Here’s the conundrum.  Few places sell the eco-friendly things that I want.  But finally, a nearby store with the minifridge that only uses $24 of electricity a year!  Why does it have to be Walmart that’s providing the stuff I want?

So, there.  I’ve given you the various impulses surrounding my decision, I’ve told you how it worked out (I bought it, and it’s awesome, and having it’s made lunches much easier).  Under the same set of circumstances, I bet a lot of environmentally concerned types would have done the same thing- and many wouldn’t have gotten the fridge at all.  Some people might have searched further afield for it, or settled for a different model.

It’s hard to know the right thing to do when faced with these questions.  The answer lies somewhere between primitivism and consumer excess, and just where depends on what your particular priorities are.  Waste less water?  Buy only reusables?  Make it yourself? Buy nothing?  Recycling fiend?  Some combination of the above?  I think the act of carefully weighing the different impacts of your decisions is about 60% of the way to making a good one.  Which, I hope, is why I spend so much time agonizing over some of mine.

Green Design, In My Basement: Part 2

Back to eco-lovely ways I decorated my place:

The New Stuff:  New room, new configuration, so I went shopping on Craigslist.

I had my eye on a large open bookcase from Ikea for a room divider, and it turns out Craiglist is an already-asembled-Ikea outlet.  Type in any of their odd product names and there are probably four or five people in the area selling one.  This works with Crate and Barrel and whatever other brands you might be looking for, also.  I got my gigantor bookcase/room divider, delivered, for less than the cost of picking up the flat pack down in Woodbridge.  Then I sold an old chair, and bought a rug. I also bought a microwave from my officemate, who was about to list it on Craigslist.

If you haven’t used the site before, take a look around.  You can search all kinds of wants- cars, furniture, clothing, jobs, apartments, dates- and list anything you have to offer, for free.  Put up pictures of your stuff and everything.  It can be frustrating, since some listings are gone sooner than you’d think, and some sellers and buyers are flighty- but ask for cash and meet in public places or take a friend to exchange items, and you’ll save yourself a good deal of trouble, plus get cheap nice stuff.

I have two rugs I’d like to put up for sale, but they both smell like dog right now, so I’m trying to fix that to raise their asking price (from $0 to anything.  Old dog smell is awful, and I would not wish it on any but my worst enemies, or maybe Stephen Johnson, head EPA obstructer).

I love shopping second-hand: thrill of the chase, thinking of ways to refashion old things to make them awesome, finding bits I never expected.  If this does not sound thrilling to you, get thee to a brand-specific search.  Or, at the least, sell the stuff you’re replacing, and keep it out of a dump.  People like me want it.

Last Installment: Big Decisions, Little Fridge


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