Gail of Green Living

Houston Farmers’ Markets

A recent take-home from Eastside Farmers’ Market

Urban Harvest has just announced that the Eastside Farmers’ Market will be expanded as of this weekend.  You will have the choice to attend on Saturday from 8-12 or Sunday from 12-4!

If you would like to view homes within walking distance or a short drive from this market, I know this area and would love to help you find your dream home in Upper Kirby!

I get the impression that the vendors for Sunday will be different.  The Houston Chronicle featured this news in the Flavor Section yesterday.  Evidently there has been a waiting list of vendors wanting to work the Eastside Market, and Sunday will be their breakout day.  Dont’ miss this opportunity to check the new farms and vendors on Sunday, April 28.   And don’t forget to check out the homes in this area that are for sale!



Kill Junk Mail, Not Trees!
January 23, 2013, 11:40 pm
Filed under: Green Business, Green Living | Tags: , , , , ,

Paper KarmaThis past fall, we were covered in catalogs and junk mail!  My daughter told me about an app for the iPhone called Paper Karma.  It is quite simple to use; once it is set up, it takes maybe 15 seconds to put several catalogs or junk mail into its system.

You touch “Scan Mail” and it tells you to “take a photo”.  Make sure you get a clear photo of the return address on the mail you want to end.  Next time you get in Paper Karma, you can touch “Request Status” to find out if they were successful in contacting the company.  The companies sending the mail don’t really want to send mail to people who don’t read it, so they are grateful to Paper Karma, for letting them know who doesn’t want it.

As a Realtor, I have the option to send mailings of all kinds to people I know and don’t know, but I don’t send advertising by mail at all.  If I don’t like to receive junk mail, I don’t send it to anyone else.

Paper Karma says that each US household receives about 850 pieces of unwanted mail per year!  One day last fall, I promise we got 20 catalogs in one day!  I felt so sorry for our mail carrier!  And then, I thought about the trees, and the waste in ink and energy of human beings who worked to get all that junk mail to me…it’s a sad thing.

Two young techies in Seattle created Paper Karma because of their distaste of junk mail.  Thank you, guys!  You are making a difference in our world!

Tell me your solution to junk mail

FREE Downtown Houston Transportation

Greenlink – Free Downtown Houston Transportation

We now have FREE and convenient downtown transportation in Houston!  The Greenlink bus is made in the U.S.A.(!)  by Gillig, LLC., and their plant is energy-efficient using a sustainable process, which includes recycling oil, water and packaging waste, reducing solvent use, using low VOC paint, and using zero-emission machinery.  The structure is made from recycled aluminum with a stainless steel understructure that combats corrosion, which will make the parts last longer.  The seven buses are fueled by compressed natural gas, and produce much less emissions and waste than comparable buses.

Let’s get to the fun part!   Greenlink runs east and west between City Hall and the George R. Brown, and north and south to Pease by way of Smith and Louisiana Streets.  This includes 18 stops near the Theatre District, Minute Maid Park, hotels, office buildings, shops (including Macy’s), restaurants, Discovery Green Park, Toyota Center…oh, my!  This covers the heart of downtown!  Buses run from 6:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m., Monday-Friday, and you should not ever have to wait more than 7-10 minutes for a bus to come by.

I’ve been telling people they could ride the Metro Rail from their new home to downtown to go to a ball game at Minute Maid Park, or they could go to see a Broadway show at The Hobby Center.  I could tell by their response that they are not willing to walk that far in the heat, rain, or whatever weather, and now, there is an air conditioned solution…and FREE!

Now who wants to help me talk them into weekend service?  Check out the map below for route details:

Brewing Beer the Green Way

My son is a big fan of craft beers.  Because he knows I am interested in supporting green businesses, he recently told me about the Southern Star Brewery  in Conroe, Texas.  For those of you outside of the Houston area, Conroe is about an hour north of Houston, close enough to call “local“.

They began their brewing in 2008 with a corporate model to work with local companies and manufacture in a sustainable manner.   Lee shared with me that this business produces so little trash (that would be what is left after recycling and re-using), that they only fill one dumpster a year.  How amazing!  They source their water from Conroe well water, they buy their cans “down the street” from a local can maker, and their spent grain (That’s the leftover fermented solid grains.), is used to feed local cattle.

Recently they made a new business contact in Conroe.  Let’s Recycle, LLC will allow them to recycle almost 100% of the waste generated at the brewery.  They are excited about working with a local, EPA certified company, and look forward to a long partnership that benefits both the environment and both companies.  This sounds like the perfect partnership!

CHEERS to Southern Star Brewery!

Grow Grass on the Roof!

Yesterday I was in a doctor’s waiting room, and as I started to sit down, I noticed the building below had grass growing on the roof of the parking garage!  I’ve seen this in other cities, and I’m sure there are more places in Houston, but this was my first time to see it in the Medical Center.  This building is for the Bi0Science Research Collaboration, an innovative space where scientists and educators from Rice University and other Texas Medical Center institutions work together to perform leading research that benefits human medicine and health. More than just a building, it is an interdisciplinary, inter-institutional catalyst for new and better ways to collaborate, explore, learn and lead.  The building has Silver Level LEED certification.

I’m sorry the picture quality is so poor, but I had to take the picture through a window.  It appears to me that there are two kinds of prairie-type or natural grasses growing on the roof.  This is insulation for the building.  It is a wonderful way to eliminate or reduce street flooding as the rain is absorbed in the sod.  And street flooding is a huge issue in the Medical Center streets!  Just last week, we received over 5″ of rain in a morning, and floodgates were dropped in front of several of the parking garages, forcing many people to not be able to get their cars out.  But why would they want to get out anyway?  Those who were out, were getting their cars destroyed by water!  Those people were in the best place ever at the time.

Many challenges due to flooding have been addressed since Tropical Storm Allison dropped about three times this much rain in a night of June, 2001.  Braes Bayou has been widened in several areas to increase capacity.  Residential neighborhoods have had their storm drain capacity increased, water lines replaced and new streets built since Allison.  Insurance companies along with FEMA have revised their flood zone maps, which has required more people to carry flood insurance for their homes.

And the Medical Center has developed flood gates to be dropped in entrances to prevent water from reaching basements where valuable research is being performed, patients are being treated, and some basements are part of the parking garages.

Last week was a great test to see how things are working, and I believe as long as life and property are saved from floodwaters, we can tolerate street flooding.  Parking spaces are so valuable in the Medical Center that the top of most parking garages is more parking space.  But the grass growing there would surely absorb many, many gallons of water and save it from flooding the streets.

Tell me where you know of buildings or homes with grass or other plant material growing on the roof.  What are the benefits in that location?

Fast Food a “no-no”
December 28, 2011, 9:23 am
Filed under: Green Business, Green Living | Tags: ,

In a previous post (12/17/11), I mentioned the philosophy behind the Filament Theatre Ensemble in Chicago.  Part of their mission to make it a sustainable and green business has motivated them to develop some uncommon practices that are worth mentioning.

Actors and the staff do not bring fast food into work or rehearsal.  The reason behind this is it breeds an enormous amount of trash and garbage, most of which is not able to be recycled.  What a great idea for all businesses!  They have a crock pot on hand for slow-cooking food for the cast.

No more styrofoam cups and containers, non-recyclable plastic containers, plastic bags, and on and on!

Does your workplace discourage fast food?

“GREEN” Theatre

Creating a green business that works doesn’t happen overnight or without much thought and motivation.  Julie Ritchey, Founding and Artistic Director of The Filament Theatre Ensemble in Chicago has recently hired my daughter as the Managing Director of the theatre.  This is how I heard of their mission and motivation for being green.

The idea of a small theatre ensemble brings to my mind things like financial struggles, actors bringing in fast food purchased on the way to rehearsal after their last audition of the day elsewhere, and often times, working for less then they value themselves.  Actors dream of the day they can leave their “day job” to make a living where they are one with a community of fellow actors who stretch each other to be their best and who share in their belief system.  Well, The Filament has succeded in making this concept work!  I am presenting their mission statement for the theatre and will provide examples in future posts of how they live and work within their belief system.  Below is a portion of the mission statement from their website.

“A Note About Community, Imagination, and Sustainability These three ideas are inextricably linked to both each other  and to the values of the Filament Theatre Ensemble. One cannot build  community without celebrating the unique imaginations of the individuals who make that community. Communities are enriched when consumers support locally owned businesses, which is an important aspect of  sustainability. We strive to make theatre a sustainable lifestyle for  our community of artists, and always provide monetary compensation for  their extraordinary and imaginative work. Producing a show in an  environmentally responsible and sustainable way demands a great deal of  imagination and non-traditional approaches. With all the work we do –  whether during a production, audition, meeting, or outreach event – we  strive to make an investment in our audiences, our artists, and our  world. Through building and strengthening community, engaging and  challenging the imagination, and the use of sustainable business practices, we endeavor to leave the world a little better than the way  we found it.

Sustainability is a particularly tricky word, and one that gets  tossed around a lot these days, so we’re going to take an extra moment  here to focus on that word as we mean it. There are a couple of definitions in particular that strike a chord with the Filament Theatre Ensemble.  The United Nations World Commission on Environment and Development  describes sustainability as “meeting the needs of the current generation  without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their  own needs,” and the Center for Sustainable Communities says that  “sustainability emphasizes relationships rather than pieces in  isolation.”

The Filament Theatre Ensemble ceaselessly ventures to connect with  and explore the vast world around us. We value and honor this  interconnected web that makes up our relationships with each other and  with our world.  By emhasizing community, imagination, and  sustainability in all our work, we strive to make choices that have a  long-lasting positive impact across a broad spectrum, and not just  “pieces in isolation.””

Let me know of green businesses you own or support.  I am pleased to discover new ones more and more often these days!