Wednesday, April 15, 2009

The Greening of the Home

I spent much of my youth in a house that was, for the majority of the 80s, a construction zone of sorts. My parents fell in love with the beautiful piece of land that the house sat on, the tall trees that surrounded the house, and the picturesque creek that ran through the front yard. They seemed to be so entranced by all of this in fact, that they didn't notice the house.

They didn't notice that one of our bathrooms (bright orange!) doubled as a hallway, they didn't notice that the master bedroom was on stilts in lieu of an actual foundation, that the rest of the house needed a new foundation and that birds would occasionally make their way inside through some passageway under the eaves. But they did notice that the place was a lovely 1920s craftsman bungalow and that it had the potential to be a beautiful home. Or rather, I suspect, they noticed everything and felt that the potential outweighed the immediate negatives (in the end, I this was most certainly true as their house is one of my favorite places to be).

So they went to work. There were periods of being overrun with contractors (when the house needed to be raised and a new foundation poured, for instance), and periods during which my dad spent every waking hour not spent at his office working on the house. My sister and I were occasionally enlisted to hang sheetrock and shingles, although I'm not sure how effectively we lightened the load as we were both under the age of 10 at the time.

It was during these periods that I learned to love hardware stores. As my dad often made three or four trips to various shops on any given Saturday, I ended up spending a lot of time in them.

So I was quite excited when I began to hear about a new store that had opened on the Bowery devoted to green home improvement and household items called Green Depot. For several weeks, each and every time I was in the vicinity of the Bowery, I would scan the area for any sign of the place, but for some reason could never find it. Finally, after reading an article about it in the New York Times last week, I actually looked up the address and successfully navigated my way to the establishment's front door.

The location actually has quite an interesting history, as documented on a column towards the front of the store.

It was once a branch of the YMCA, then studio space for artists (Mark Rothko among them apparently), then a den of vice, then landmarked and now a LEED certified retail destination. Ah New York, such history, such dynamism!

Green Depot is part hardware store (finishes like environmentally conscious floor coverings and countertop materials are in the back, items like levels, paint and hammers are up front), part household supply store. Everything is non-toxic and otherwise green. They even stock an entire baby line of non-toxic furniture, clothes and toys. But surprisingly, the whole vibe is quite relaxed and welcoming. The staff is friendly, I detected no composting zealots, and the prices are pleasingly low.

The shop stocks all purpose spray cleaners, window cleaners, floor cleaners, dish soap and the like, all for $4.95 or less for 32 ounces. And you can refill empty bottles at the store's bar o' cleaners:

They stock green packing products, including more different types of twine than I can remember coming across in my whole life, varying sizes of boxes and a biodegradable alternative to bubble wrap.

And there is a whole section in the front carrying those wonderful little items that you never knew you needed but once you lay eyes on can't seem to live without. Mold testing kits (I have had mold paranoia ever since the great bedroom ceiling leak), drinking glasses made of recycled wine bottles, intriguing books (I may have to pick up Green Apple, a green guide to New York next time I'm there), more twine and these fantastic cloth buckets:

What would one use a cloth bucket for? Who knows? But don't you just love it?

There are loads of items like these, none of them are prohibitively priced and all of which are at least nominally practical, which I believe gives one absolute dispensation to purchase at will. So go ahead, green yourself silly.


pve design said...

oh what fun.
hmm. cloth bucket for the beach?

Laura [What I Like] said...

Perfect! Or I suppose it could be used to store firewood by the fireplace (if I had one that is).

Rob M. said...

I want one in Toronto!

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