Go Green!

041210FEATURE.jpg Go Green!
Eco-chic house enhancers

Some say it's not easy being green. But we found an expert who says it is. Just in time for Earth Day, she shares several simple ways you can save the world in style as you save some green on your utility bills!

You recycle and you've got those cute colorful reusable grocery bags from IKEA or Kroger (which totally makes shopping more fun). You turn off the faucet when you brush your teeth, and you try to remember to unplug your cell phone charger when you're done using it (but maybe not the television because it's too tough to set it back up). The world is going greener, and you already know that — but are you convinced yet?

"Everybody can do something, but nobody is going to do everything,"
Green Irene Eco-consultant Ellen Hall says. "As an individual or apartment dweller or homeowner, you may not feel that what you do doesn't have an impact, but as an aggregate, you can see how we can make a difference."

And the difference is huge: commercial and residential buildings account for approximately 38 percent of all carbon emissions in the United States, according to the U.S. Green Building Council.

0110Fence_INSTORY.gif The commitment to a greener lifestyle, however, has some people questioning the overall benefit, Hall says. "People tend to think that going green is going to cost them more money," she says. "But really, we're not talking an overhaul of all of your whole house and huge investments … just an awareness of your actions and the impact they have."

Hall consults through Green Irene for the Greater Cincinnati area. During an hour consultation ($99), Hall provides an in-depth and customized assessment of the green possibilities of your home. Cincy Chic followed her out to a young professional's new apartment in Columbia Tusculum. As we found out, many of the improvements were quite manageable, even on a small budget. Click play on the video below to see how Hall might be able to help your household adopt a few greener ways.


Be Green, Keep It Clean


 As we learned this week, most of the basic green initiatives you can start up in your home begin with a clean start. Grab your washcloth and phosphate-free cleaner and get dusting! (Challenge: See if you can do it all without paper towels. Gretchen Godsell, the local woman from the video above, cut up all of her old 1209KROMBHOLZ.gifbeach towels. She even replaced her Swiffer cloths with old rags and used clothespins to attach them. She's staying green and saving money at the same time.)

Start with the light bulbs around the house. Dust blocks the light, which can dampen the light in your home and decrease their efficiency. While you're at it, consider swapping out a few with a lower wattage bulb. A 40-watt bulb will work in place of a 60-watt bulb, and you'll spare a little electricity. Also, consider the higher efficiency light bulbs, Hall says.

 "I hear a lot of objections from people like 'I don't like the color' or 'They're more expensive' or 'I don't feel like re-changing all of the bulbs in the house,' but Duke Energy just told us that if everyone changed just ONE light bulb in their home, it would have the same effect as removing 700,000 cars off of the road," Hall says. "If everyone changed six bulbs, they could power 51,000 homes."

Hall tends to start in the kitchens of the homes she visits for a reason. It's home to one of the biggest energy drains in the entire house: your refrigerator. Tava-In-Story.gifShe demonstrated a few quick tests in the video above, including the dollar bill trick, which can show you how snug your refrigerator door is. If the door is snug, cold air won't leak out. Another refrigerator tip: If your freezer isn't totally full, it will actually work hard to keep everything cold. A fuller freezer tends to power on less because the cold items insulate everything. She suggested putting half-gallon milk jugs with water inside to act as freezer coolers. Also, check the temperature of your freezer to make sure it's set correctly. It only needs to be set between zero and five degrees.

Of course, we had to ask when it came to the dishwasher: pre-wash or no pre-wash?

"Generally, the dishwasher is more efficient than the sink, but you know your dishwasher better than I do," Hall says. "For newer dishwashers, you don't need to pre-wash. Newer dishwashers also use less water. Older dishwashers use about nine gallons per cycle."

Godsell was raised to pre-wash her dishes before placing them in the machine, but she's modified this habit by instead scraping the plates clean in the garbage can. The sludge that is eventually filtered out of our drinking water ends up going to a landfill anyway, so you may as well remove a few steps in that process. For the more adventurous greenies, put your scrapings in a compost pile. To learn more about setting up a compost system, turn to Marvin's Organic Gardens for classes. Head to Marvin's Organic Gardens for their thinkGREEN event from noon to 6 p.m. Saturday, April 24. Check out Hall's "Living Green, Living Well: Top Ways to Green Your Home & Lifestyle"
presentation at 12:30 p.m.


Grow the Greenie Community


In Cincinnati, we're fortunate to have access to convenient recycling methods. But what if your business or neighborhood just isn't in the green spirit?

"There's a big perception that [recycling] doesn't actually help, which is totally not true!" says Kristy Kim, the public affairs specialist at Hamilton County Department of Environmental Services
. "The fact that we always tell children in our educational programs is that recycling just one aluminum can save enough energy to run a TV for three hours. Once you can make a connection that's beyond just tossing a can into a bin, you can get people to understand it on a larger scale."

The Hamilton County Solid Waste Management District provides great resources for how to set up recycling in Cincinnati. Check out their tips on how to reduce residential waste by clicking here.

Keepin' it Green


It's OK if you can't do everything, but as Hall demonstrated, many options offer a greener lifestyle and help us educate others. Cincinnati is still a long way off from being entirely green-friendly, so it's important to raise awareness when you can. Hall actually plays host to parties at some of her clients' homes where they get creative with the theme. Instead of hosting a cooking supply or jewelry party, you could focus on green efforts in the kitchen and serve organic foods and drinks. Or host a clothing swap party and educate your girlfriends on basic energy conservation.

If you're interested in a green party or lunch 'n' learn for your office, you can call Hall at (513) 932-7304 or e-mail her at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it . Reach Kim at the Hamilton County Department of Environmental Services at (513) 946-7777.


Photographer: Neysa Ruhl Photography
Model: Kirsten Schaffer
Location: The McAlpin

Kirsten Schaffer -

Kirsten Schaffer is an editorial intern for Cincy Chic. E-mail her at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or follow her on Twitter at More >>

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