Monday, January 30, 2012

In the interest of transparency

I am asking for your opinion.

I am presently amassing information on the subject of material transparency. What's that? Basically our need as a community, nation, world to account for what is in our products and their origin (oh, and a lot more.)

What I need from you are your thoughts... on why you would like to see products labeled. Yes, food is labeled, clothes are labeled but not building materials. Why should they be?

I know I have a looooong list of reasons and I can't be the only one. Please share!

Oh, alright, OK, I'll start:

1.  I want to buy local.

If only I could see where the product's resources originate and where they are eventually manufactured. I will then be able to compare products and make an educated decision.

Your turn.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Check out Brett Marlo Design Build's new brand:

A huge THANK YOU to Kristy Ewing of Ewing Creative for her graphic design talents!!!

As seen in The Edge, January 2012 Column

You are what you breathe
Did you know that most of us are indoors 90 percent of our day?

While we are inside we (or at least I) imagine what our world would be like without the repercussions of the industrial age – a world where humans live their lives aligned with nature. All the while, we sit indoors breathing air that is even worse than outside!

I feel comforted by the protection of my walls. I enjoy the comforts of the desk I am sitting at, the firm counter I lean on, my adjustable chair and temperature.

Yet I am breathing in every built material in my environment.

It’s not as bad as it sounds ... there lies a real opportunity here. While we may not be able to entirely control our exterior environment, we can control our indoor air quality.

As you can imagine, there are many variables in our indoor environments.

Some of the first sources that come to mind are: oil, wood, foams, adhesives, etc. In addition, thanks to where we live and how damp our spaces may become – wet or damp carpet – yuck!

When the time comes to replace these elements, an easy solution is choosing a material that does not off-gas hazardous pollutants — look for products with no or low volatile organic compounds (VOCs). According to the EPA, concentrations of many VOCs may be up to ten times higher indoors than outdoors. You can often identify these environmentally friendly products as their labels, with terms like eco, green, or future friendly, are much like bragging rights.

Another option is making your own nontoxic cleaners, as most of the time it is less expensive and works just as well. For example, mix ½ cup vinegar and a ½ cup baking soda (or borax) with ½ gallon of water and you have an all-purpose cleaner. You may use it immediately and store it for future use.

Second, how air moves factors into the equation. While we are familiar with the need to “weatherize” our homes and commercial spaces, we also need to be aware of the air quality we are sealing into these spaces. First we may want to clean the air up and then seal it in. And always remember, there is a lot to be said for natural ventilation — open windows and doors when weather permits.

I was amazed to learn that plants actually scrub the air clean. Crazy, right? I know. If you are interested, there are sources out there that tell you which plants are best at eradicating specific pollutants.

For example, you can run/walk/bike to the store and buy run-of-the-mill house plants such as spider plants, Boston ferns, snake plants, rubber plants and even English ivy. They are inexpensive and absorb formaldehyde lickety-split. Who knew you could clean the air in a room quickly and under twenty dollars?

Last but not least is US. We are most likely the biggest offender! What is our lifestyle and what do we bring into our indoor spaces? I don’t have to say this out loud (or do I?) Don’t smoke! OK … that was easy. Opt for natural cleaners, preferably with a neutral PH. Past the obvious culprits – paints, pesticides and cleaning products – watch out for office equipment such as inks, carbonless copy paper and correction fluids.

You get the idea. It’s just like making wise choices when you sit down at a restaurant or while food shopping. When doing these activities, you innately realize that what you buy, you ingest. Guess what? Same rule applies.

What will you do with this powerful knowledge that you can breathe healthy air 90 percent of your day?

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

A taste for writing... I think I'm hooked.

I know I started this blog last year. And by my count, and I'm sure yours, there are few to posts to read!

Well, that is about to change. I have fallen in love with the idea....finally!

It took writing my first column to do so. I'm not sure why. I actually starting writing a book around seven years ago on remodeling. Unfortunately it remains in it's outline form tucked in a manila folder. (That alone could explain why the love did not develop!)

Perhaps a book was too lofty a goal as a novice writer. So until the day I set time aside to pull the book together, I will relish in writing a column + this blog.

I have been reading much on writers, their inspiration, and writing ethics. It was great to see them say not to be afraid to write something bad.

This may seem like an obvious statement. And it is. BUT fear has stopped many in their tracks.

If I started my career as a designer with fears of designing something bad, I would have never designed. Therefore, I will write and apologize for my skills now. They will develop. Please enjoy + share in my journey.

My new column is published in Gig Harbor EDGE, an earth-friendly soy ink & recycled stock publication, about 17,450 mailed copies are going out next Thursday throughout the Peninsula.

I look forward to your feedback.