3.07.2008

This Old "Green" House

As I mentioned previously, I enjoy home improvement projects, and do all the work myself. What I didn't mention is that I hate paying other people to do work for me. So my motivation in these projects, and in doing them myself, is three-fold:
  • I enjoy the productive activity of moving walls, running electrical or plumbing work, building new floors, etc., and doing it well. My standards of perfection are much higher than a contractor's. And it's a great weekend contrast to sitting in front of a computer screen all week.
  • Everyone in the family benefits when the rooms are more open, updated, and usable.
  • I save a shi'ite load of money sourcing the materials myself, and not paying labor or permitting fees. And yes, I'm smart enough to read a book on good construction practices and install an electrical circuit without government oversight, thank you.
Because of my penchant for this kind of thing, because of the age of my house, and because of my Boston-area location, the This Old House franchise is a favorite of mine. I watch the shows when I can, and I subscribe to the monthly magazine. Sure, their projects are over-the-top for my budget -- as much as I'd like to have $300K lying around to spend on doubling the size of my house, that's a little bit of a stretch for me right now. Maybe after the summer. Of 2020.

But there are still plenty of great ideas to work from, and many of the problems TOH's subjects have are similar to my own. I look forward to the magazine every month. But lately, I've noticed a disturbing trend.

TOH is turning green.

Over the past year or so, I've noticed an uptick in the number of environmentalist-related articles. But in October 2007 they had an entire issue dedicated to Green Remodeling, and since then it seems like eco-friendly building crap has taken up a good 30-40% of the magazine each month. With TOH Magazine, you can now learn about how your choice of sustainable bamboo flooring will impact your "carbon footprint". As annoying as this infiltration of environutjobbery is, the magazine is still worth reading. I just skip those parts. But if the magazine starts to follow this TOH-online article, I may just have to cancel my subscription:

Growing Up Green
Technology, politics, economics. While the future of the green movement might be shaped by these large, complicated factors, the question of whether sustainable trends can be sustained themselves really comes down to the next generation of homeowners—children. And as parents and educators can attest, the outlook is promising.

"We actively cultivate sustainability awareness with them, and they are quite receptive to the messages," says Michael Klug of his two children. "My sons rail against SUVs even more than I do."

I have to say, this is not what I'm looking for when I open a home remodeling magazine. However, the worst thing about this is...

There is a market for this stuff.

TOH isn't stupid. They are responding to market forces and putting out content that their customers want to read. Assuming they are shifting their focus based on customer data and feedback (a reasonable assumption), this means that people are clamoring to find out how to 'live green', even in their simple bathroom updates. This is depressing.

And while the case can be made for conservation of energy in your house to lower your bills -- I do it too -- TOH is trending away from the Good Ol' Yankee Thrift of keeping your costs down, and instead the undertone is the tired old environmental moralism. "Not only will you reduce your bills, but you can sleep easy at night knowing that your greed and materialism is not killing the planet."

Well, This Old House, I'm letting you know now that you are on notice. Keep this trend up, and you'll lose my $12 per year. So shape up.

-C.


4 comments:

Rational Jenn said...

My kids are very pro-SUV and often encourage me to waste gasoline just for the fun of it. I'm so proud.

Have you written a letter of complaint to TOH Magazine? Because that's just appalling, really. I want to find the person who came up with the term "carbon footprint" and thwack them repeatedly on the forehead.

C. August said...

Nope, no letters yet. I'm hoping the greenie-ness will die down in the magazine and they'll get back to reviewing hammers. No, I'm not holding my breath, because it's pervading every area of public discourse, to the point of it being simply accepted (and unquestioned) wisdom.

And I agree that "carbon footprint" is particularly offensive -- if I were one to get offended about anything, anyway. "Carbon credit" is another one that makes my blood boil, perhaps even more.

brendan said...

I actually like the idea of carbon credits. Not because they help the environment or anything. It's because my cynicism kicks in, and upon hearing the term I immediately think of some huckster out there, with a big smile on his face and a cigar in his mouth, laughing at the idea that he has convinced millions of people to pay him for their own guilt.

I don't know if this guy actually exists. But I like to think that he does. If he does, he's a freakin' genius.

C. August said...

some huckster out there, with a big smile on his face and a cigar in his mouth, laughing at the idea that he has convinced millions of people to pay him for their own guilt.

Sounds essentially like what the Pope did!

The reason Luther got so pissed and nailed his nonsensical 95 "Gripes wit' da Pope" to the church door was because an Indulgences salesman came to his town, harassing people to pay the Pope in exchange for him taking a few years off their purgatory sentence.

I like the idea of thinking of the Pope as a huckster with a fat cigar in his mouth, laughing at the people paying him for their own guilt - guilt that he himself convinced them they should carry.

OK, I actually thought of him that way before.