Home Green Home

The Appraisal Journal recently published data illustrating the amount of value a little ‘greening up’ of your home can add: for every $1 green home improvements decrease the property’s annual energy bills, the home’s value increases by $10-$25. As realtor Tara-Nicolle Nelson points out, that can translate to an increase of $8,000 to $25,000 to the market value of a greened-up 3,000 square foot home. In her recent article, I was pleasantly surprised to learn that green homes not only sell faster but buyers are willing to pay more for green or energy efficient homes. That’s because they likely know they will save 20-30% on average on utilities, or possibly even reduce electricity expenses to zero and sell power back to the grid (go windmills! Our favorite we call the ‘Southwester’ after the town on Mt. Desert Island in Maine and is made by Southwest Wind Power, but I digress).

Tara also points out that the greening need not stop at dual-paneled windows – a green household can help you lose weight, feel better, live longer and hopefully avoid diseases like cancer and other plagues that are caused by exposure to toxins and unhealthy living. This doesn’t mean you need to give up your favorite foods. On the contrary, try making them with only fresh, unprocessed ingredients. Organic fruits and vegetables really do taste much better than ones that have been genetically modified and sprayed with pesticides. Nothing is better than a cocktail with fresh mint picked from your own plant on the windowsill or back porch. Having your own little kitchen herb garden also means you’ll never run out of fresh basil or cilantro for guacamole. That’s reason enough for me.

Happy Earth Day!


Toxic foam puzzle mats and an organic alternative

Bravo Belgium for taking steps to ban the sale of foam puzzle mats for babies and toddlers. The mats were tested and found to have cancer-causing formaldehyde and other toxic residues in them. As toxicologist Alfred Bernard put simply, “The[re] are solvents, residues from the manufacturing process that stay in the product afterwards. They can be absorbed through breathing or through the skin. As a rule, children should not be exposed to these products.” That seems like common sense and yet many parents seem to adopt a policy of ‘willful blindness’ to carcinogenic and harmful toxins in products they purchase for their children. The best thing you can do for your kids is to nurture their health and happiness. The joy gained from a colored piece of foam will be short-lived compared to the joy of being cancer-free and able to enjoy their own precious little ones someday.

As an alternative, we love these 100% organic mats by Under the Nile, which are handmade with leftover scraps from their clothing collection. It’s an efficient use of what would otherwise be wasted fabric and your little munchkin’s tummy time will be chemical-free. At $35, it’s cheaper than the average toxic foam mat. Thanks to Beth for sending this story along!