The Everyday Green Home Podcast helps you GET the value of green: for you, your family and your community. Whether its green homes, green living or the people who make it happen, join Marla Esser Cloos to learn how green and sustainability practices and products work for you.
Wicked Problems: "People-ism" - It's Really All About People with Tony Pratte
The term wicked problems describes some of today's most challenging social issues. Wicked problems require a reframing of success because they might never be fully solved. Success with wicked problems means having an impact on or making a difference toward improved outcomes and reduced risk.
Today, we dive into the wicked problem of people-ism.
I’m Marla, the Green Home Coach! I am recording live at Shock City Studios with my co-host, Tony Pratte, today!
I recently found a book on Amazon called PEOPLEism: A Re-emergence in the Belief in People, A Chance to Humanize Ourselves Again. The notion of people-ism is central to many of the wicked problems we have been discussing on the show.
Everything in nature is interconnected
As I learned more about nature, I discovered that all natural systems are interconnected. If, for example, I help save polar bears, it will also help save me and others.
We all tend to be concerned about our welfare, how we will continue to thrive, and how we will survive any particular occurrence. Unfortunately, something that tends to get lost in that conversation is me caring about what is in it for you as well as for me.
Surviving and thriving as a collective
It can be challenging for individuals or small groups of people to survive in our modern-day world. To thrive and survive as individuals, we need everyone to survive and thrive.
Our natural world affects us
Our natural world affects us. Everything in nature is tied together, yet we tend not to talk much about the people aspect.
It’s all about the people
I realized that having a green or sustainable home that promotes better health and a better life is all about people. A home is really just a place to enhance people’s living experience.
Building a house
When a house gets built, it is not just about the builder and the homeowner. There are also suppliers, neighbors, people in the subdivision, and others you may not even realize are stakeholders who have to consent to the project.
There are studies on how people assess the companies with which they do business. A key indicator is how well the people within a company get treated. Fair wages and social justice get considered nowadays before people engage with a company.
The shift started with groups of people looking to companies to represent their values. As we began to experience the great resignation, companies' values became an even sharper area of focus.
Why are people leaving companies?
People feel comfortable now because money got pumped into the economy. People want flexibility. People prefer working from home. People who kept working during the pandemic saved money because there was nothing to spend it on. They can now afford to leave their positions. Some people feel it is just not worth working anymore. The younger generation is getting into a freelance mindset. So if something does not work out, they leave and go elsewhere. Fewer companies are offering benefits like pension schemes to anchor their people. Experience
Lately, attracting employees has become more about the experience and less about money.
Mental health has become part of the public conversation. People are paying more attention to their work-life balance and happiness quotient lately.
The way people view their homes and what they require for their homes has shifted during the pandemic.
Struggling to find workers
Some of the places struggling to find workers include restaurants, retail, and essential services where people do not have the option to work from home. Many people in those industries jeopardize their health and safety to provide their services, so they feel it is not worth working there anymore.
A new normal
People must understand that the old normal does not align with the new normal.
Grace and patience
We need to practice patience and grace when dealing with people.
Thinking about others
An Alternative to Plastic Bottles in Your Bathroom with Lindsey of Plaine Products
It can be hard to find good products that also have great packaging.
Several years ago, I started using a great set of products with amazing packaging that gets specially delivered.
I’m Marla, the Green Home Coach, and I have Lindsey McCoy from Plaine Products joining me today! Plaine Products is a company with a unique delivery system for sustainably packaged vegan bath and body products!
Lindsey and her sister started Plaine Products in 2017.
Growing up, Lindsey wanted to save the planet. Back then, business was not the way to do it, so she joined the non-profit world and spent the next twenty years working at various non-profits.
Her last non-profit position was doing environmental education in the Bahamas. She was not an environmental expert at that point. She only knew what recycling was, and she had heard the term zero-waste before.
Lindsey spent time with many scientists and environmental experts on the island. While showing them around, she kept on seeing plastic piling up everywhere. She did not want to add to it. So she started using reusable bags and water bottles and tried to buy less.
Starting a company
In May 2015, when she and her husband moved back to the US, Lindsey asked her sister to help her start a company to help people accumulate fewer plastic bottles. They launched their business in February of 2017.
A subscription system
Lindsey and her sister created a subscription system where they send out bottles of bath and body products with pumps. When their customers run low, they send out refill bottles. They pay for the return of the empty bottles, which they then wash and reuse.
Finding the right manufacturer
Lindsey’s sister is picky, so she made Lindsey go through several manufacturers before they found one they both liked.
They had to learn a lot about ingredients! They settled on using only clean vegan beauty ingredients in all their products. Before that, Lindsey had no idea how bad most of the bath and body products she used were or what was in them.
Many people tend to miss the connection between their health and the health of our world.
The plastic problem is worse than we realize. Most plastic gets recycled in places with poor communities. The people living there have to breathe toxic air and plastic fumes.
We have a choice
Many people know that plastic can be bad for their health. Yet they continue to use it because it is so convenient. Fortunately, we have a choice. Even though millions of dollars have been spent convincing us that we should value convenience above all else, we can still decide how we want to live.
There are many solutions out there for reducing the amount of waste that gets produced.
Word of mouth
Hearing from someone you trust has been proven to be the best recommendation for trying new products. Hopefully, people will also learn from others how to make more mindful decisions.
Why is there so much plastic?
Plastic is a by-product of fossil fuels and is very cheap to produce. In the US, fossil fuels are subsidized. That makes plastic even less costly to produce.
Plastic has many good qualities. It is indestructible, durable, and can get molded into any shape. Still, it does not make sense to use something that lasts for hundreds of years for five minutes and then throw it away.
Plastic is one of the first things most people with cancer eliminate from their lives because there are too many health questions surrounding it that are just not worth asking.
Plastics can get recycled, but the process is complicated. One of the biggest problems is that most cities do not have the facilities to recycle more complex types of plastic.
Metals are infinitely recyclable. That means that the aluminum bottles used by Plaine Products never need to be thrown away.
The Plaine P
Wicked Problems - Consumerism and Buying with Values with Tony Pratte
The term “wicked problems” describes some of the most challenging social issues of this time. Those problems require a reassessment of success because being successful with wicked problems means making a difference toward them or influencing improved results and diminished risk, even though the problem may never be fully solved.
Consumerism, or focusing on economic improvement based on things people buy, could be another wicked problem.
I’m Marla, the Green Home Coach! My co-host Tony Pratte and I are recording live today at Shock City Studios in downtown St. Louis Missouri!
Many challenges and issues are tied to the topic of consumerism.
Consumerism and waste
One reason consumerism is problematic is that our focus on buying things leads to large amounts of waste. Creating those products also speeds up the use of our natural resources.
Retail in Oklahoma City
I recently read an article about the glory of retail in Oklahoma City, a city dependent on the sales tax generated by the sale of goods. That made me wonder if the same thing happens in other places too, and whether that drives the push for people to keep on buying things.
Each municipality has its source of income that gets written into the by-laws, and the local city governments determine how those funds get used.
Part of the property tax charged by municipalities goes to the fire and police districts, and some of it goes to the county for infrastructures like parks, forests, and museums.
People tend to use a lot more stuff today than they did in my mother and grandmother’s time.
My parents and grandparents
My grandmother grew up in the depression, so she had a waste not, want not mentality. My parents grew up during World War 2 and were teenagers in the 1950s. So they went from a scarcity of materials to a booming economy in the next decade where money and products were abundantly available.
The economy was put back on track in the 1950s by pumping money into manufacturing goods and creating jobs for the soldiers returning from the war.
We were excited when soda came out in plastic bottles because they did not break. At the time, we had no idea of the impact it would have, and how that convenience would later merge with consumerism.
Two kinds of companies
A marketing theory asserts that two kinds of companies exist. One notices a need and develops a product or service to solve it. The other develops a product or service and then creates a need for it.
In the 1960s and 1970s, there was a growing feeling of coming of age because of all the new products and innovations that were coming out, and people thought they needed those things to have a good life. As life began to speed up in the following decades, people thought they needed more convenience items.
It takes time for society to evolve. Most of the innovations between the 19th and 20th centuries showed up toward the end of the 20th century. Today, innovations are happening all the time.
There are so many more product choices available today than we need. I prefer smaller local grocery stores with fewer items to choose from.
Many unseen costs are associated with everything we buy.
Today, companies should use a circular rather than a linear way of thinking when looking at the things they produce.
We are slowly changing from a linear economy to a circular economy. A circular economy means you remain responsible for the products you have produced throughout the life cycle.
Everything in nature is used. Nothing gets wasted. We can use a similar life-cycle assessment for things we produce.
It’s interesting to see how differently younger generations look at things. There seems to be less emphasis on stuff with younger people.
There currently seems to be less emphasis on things and more
Trusted Partners and Brands
There are so many different products to choose from for our homes, well-being, and personal care that it is often really hard to figure out which products are better for our health and wellness, are longer lasting, more durable, and do what they are meant to do.
I’m Marla, the Green Home Coach! Today, I’m doing a solo episode to share my thoughts on selecting the best products and materials to bring into your home. Much of the work I do involves helping people understand the specifications for products and materials, find what will work best for them, and provide them with the necessary health and wellness benefits when they do a design, remodel, or big build project.
A health and wellness remodel in our kitchen
My husband and I recently did a small remodel in our kitchen. We called it a health and wellness remodel because the kitchen was small, and we wanted to make it spacious enough for us to cook together.
We also had some significant cracks in our dry walls, so we called in several professionals to take a look. One of them thought there might be a crack in the concrete slab under the floor too- and he was right! So, we had that fixed and replaced floor.
Our designer was Christy Howell from CRH Design Build in Oklahoma City. After she set out how everything would look, we had to select the materials.
We ran into some limitations with supply chain shortages and had to make some trade-offs. Going through that process helped me understand things from the client’s perspective!
Green labels give an independent third-party verification for products that have been researched and tested. I advocate for using trusted green labels when selecting materials or products for your home or the homes you are building or remodeling.
Start your remodel by considering your goals and laying out what works.
Choosing materials that worked for us
For our home remodel, we wanted to use durable materials that would work well together and did not off-gas. We chose quartz countertops, and even though we had to do some trade-offs, we eventually found a flooring product we felt good about that worked for us. We also used tiles made with a lead-free glaze and zero-VOC paint for the walls and cabinets. (Unfortunately, we had to use a high-VOC primer to make the cabinets more durable.) We learned a lot from the process!
The Everyday Green Home Shop
The shop on Everyday Green Home is divided into many different categories. Most of us have an established relationship with Amazon, so all the products in the shop are sourced from Amazon. There is even a go-green edition of the Monopoly game available there!
Affiliate programs and brands
We have had direct affiliate relationships with several companies, and those affiliate programs are all still there. We are excited to have added some new affiliate partners too, and we hope to add a few more by the end of the year. We will also add the products we like to use ourselves, in our homes and daily lives, to the trusted partners and brands category.
Imperfect Foods is a company that helps people avoid and fight food waste by repackaging and selling ugly produce and surplus foods at affordable prices. Most of their food is sourced sustainably. All the packaging is recyclable, and the food gets delivered right to your door.
Rothy’s shoes are made from recycled plastic bottles. They are super comfortable and have arch support! They are also washable.
Oka-B shoes are manufactured by a woman-owned company in Georgia. They are made from plant-based plastic and are recyclable. They are very comfortable with arch support.
Inventive ways to use resources
I love seeing the inventive ways in which people use the resources we already have in a new way! My son and his business partner have a company in St. Louis, Missouri, called Printerior Designs. They make filaments for 3
Wicked Problems - Infrastructure - Quality vs. Quantity with Tony Pratte
We have some tremendous wicked problems in our society right now!
Wicked problems are how we describe some of today’s most challenging social issues. They call for us to reframe our notion of success because they may never get fully solved. Being successful with wicked problems means making a difference toward them, improving the outcomes, or reducing the risk.
Today, we are diving into the wicked problem of infrastructure.
I’m Marla, the Green Home Coach! My co-host, Tony Pratte, and I are recording live at Shock City Studios in St. Louis, Missouri!
Infrastructure is critical to our growth and progress as a society and how we transport water, people, and things. Newer cities in the US tend to have fewer problems with their infrastructure than some of the older cities in the eastern part of the country.
St. Louis is one of the oldest cities in the United States. In most of the world’s older cities, we find bits and pieces that show us aspects of what the infrastructure used to be like in the past.
Many things come into play in St. Louis. It was founded in 1764, so it was around even before the United States of America. It is situated where east meets west in the United States and still holds that heritage. It also has different weather and cultural patterns.
The infrastructure of St. Louis
Parts of the infrastructure of St. Louis date back to 1764, and we don’t even know where much of it is. Several years ago, the foundation for a new high-rise got dug in the central-west end of the city, and they had to stop when they came across a hundred-plus-year-old water shoreline that nobody knew anything about.
The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act
The infrastructure needed to run our country and the built environment are very tightly linked. The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act is being looked at right now. There has been a lot of discussion about what infrastructure entails. Some interpretations are that infrastructure includes roads, buildings, the electric grid, and the services that enable people to connect and cities to work.
The infrastructure for a house
The infrastructure required for a house is immense! It includes sewers, storm-water systems, the electrical grid, internet, cable, gas, roads, fire hydrants, water, and more. The entire home infrastructure gets attached to a regional infrastructure provided by a company or organization, and then that gets tied into the national infrastructure.
Three electric grids
There are three electric grids in the United States. They are west of the Rockies, east of the Rockies, and in Texas. A lot of management goes on in the different power pools that most of us know nothing about!
Energy transitions need to happen slowly to avoid losing any potential generation.
Many discussions lately have been about how money gets allocated for building new physical infrastructure. Yet the existing infrastructure has not necessarily been well maintained. An example is the hundreds of bridges throughout the country that need repairs.
One of the reasons our infrastructure has reached a point where so much is in disrepair is that our political leaders seem to find it better to build new infrastructure instead of repairing what we already have.
Revitalizing Oklahoma City
Oklahoma City has a project to revitalize the city called the Maps Project. It is now in its fourth round.
We need the budget to maintain everything that gets built in our cities. Campaigns to raise capital funds are possible, but not for operating expenses. How we fund projects, and stock prices, are both parts of the problem.
One solution is to go to municipal meetings and speak out about any repairs or maintenance that needs to get done. There are also open forums where citizens can hear about the plans, how the money gets allocated, and vo
Designing Wellness In with Christy Howell of CRH Design Build
Lately, I’ve been talking about health and wellness and how much it impacts our living environment. That means how we design, build or remodel a house or building, how we live in it, and how we interact with it.
I’m Marla, the Green Home Coach! For the last few months, I have hosted one of my business partners on the podcast. It has been exciting to build a group of people who care about how people live in their homes!
Today, I am happy to have Christy Howell of CRH Design Build back on the show! Christy has been on The Everyday Green Home podcast several times before. I have enjoyed connecting with her and watching how she has progressed with transforming her business and how she shows up in Oklahoma and Oklahoma City as she learns more!
I moved back to Oklahoma City six years ago after living in St. Louis, where I got deeply involved with the sustainability culture. In St. Louis, the green culture eventually became part of the mainstream culture through work with the regional Chamber of Commerce. I loved being part of that evolution!
People care about their health
Christy and I have discovered a fair amount of interest in the green and sustainability culture because people care about their health. That is important because people’s health and how they live their lives blend.
Crafting the story
Oklahoma is very conservative. That sometimes closes people off from hearing the whole story. So we have learned to craft the story in a more meaningful way.
Professional Women in Building
Professional Women in Building is a council of the Homebuilders Association and a national council with the National Association of Homebuilders. It is all about supporting women in the building industry, trades, and the ancillary industries around the building industry.
It was fun and inspiring bringing Professional Women in Building back to Oklahoma City because it brought together a group of like-minded go-getters who were all parts of the building industry! Some great personal and professional relationships have emerged from that group.
Build My Future
Professional Women in Building was the genesis of, Build My Future, a construction career day for high school students. The Construct My Future camp for middle school students also came about after that.
Christy started her career in interior design about twenty years ago. She was working for a homebuilder when she decided to spread her wings and open a design firm. After that, she moved on to her current design form, CRH Design Build. Christy is gradually educating herself as she educates others about her type of build.
A healthy home
With a wellness-inspired design aspect, a home built with a solid envelope creates a healthy home.
Insulated Concrete Forms (ICF)
Insulated Concrete Forms are well-insulated life-sized Lego blocks used to create the envelope for solid, energy-efficient, health-oriented, air-tight, comfortable homes.
ICF homes are air-tight, so they require mechanical ventilation. (Affordable options are readily available.)
Remodels tend to be more expensive than new construction.
My home remodel
We brought Christy in to do our home remodel. (Before that, she consulted with me about remodeling her parents’ home.) Being each other’s clients has been insightful for both of us! Our rebuild was green-oriented, and we also brought in some sustainability factors. Fortunately, we managed to salvage many of the old materials and donated them to be reused by those who needed them.
Why did we remodel?
Our main driver for remodeling our home was health and wellness because we spend a lot of time there. Another reason for our remodel was that during Covid, my husband and I started cooking together, but we soon discovered that our kitchen was too small.
Some things were challenging to do. We had to work with supply chain issues, and
PRAGMATIC, THOUGHTFUL, EMPOWERING
A free education in all things green that unites people with the pragmatism of visionary Marla Esser Cloos, author of the Benjamin Franklin Award winning reference book "Living Green Effortlessly", and her incredible guests. Marla Esser Cloos decodes the idea of "Living Green" when it can seem indecipherable, daunting, and even exhaustingly patriarchal (not unlike Shakespeare). This podcast addresses and faces existential questions, specifically in moments masked in jocularity, about sustainability and home. Creating better, healthier, thriving stories through our actions (or inactions) can happen each and everyday. Why can't our world be automated and normalized to that effect??
"YES, AND-" ON WICKED PROBLEMS & TP
Everyday Green Home Podcast at it's best feels like Ask This Old House (I love Ask This Old House) and This Old House, and the podcast seems similarly seeking of inclusion and diversity. Marla (greenhomecoach.com) distinguishes Everyday Green Home Podcast by stressing the importance of expertise in the planning stages in efforts to prevent what Ask This Old House and This Old House address. Tony is at his best when he is critically thinking and using his experience and knowledge to add to the conversation. (If I ran into him now, I'm not sure I wouldn't want to hit him with a 2 X 6. He is best when he is convincing the listeners NOT to do that because they would miss him). Speaking of 2 x6s, I found an example of what I'm trying to say. There was a podcast episode where Tony was talking about how a contractor or someone had changed to 2 X 6s instead of 2 X 4s and there had been increases in costs. Marla suggested talking lumber prices which was interesting (see NPR's "What the Rise and Fall of Lumber Prices Tells Us About the Pandemic Economy"), but instead of saying, "Yes, and-", Tony said it wasn't that at all. He said it was because the builders had to carry more upstairs or something?!?! For the longest time, I thought that whoever suggested that to him was likely non- union, messed up, and having a "joke" on "Harvard". I felt for him, aside from his not actively listening to Marla or taking her generous cue for him to go on a happy tangent into economics or the shortages in the building trades. (There was a great podcast episode about it, too! But I think, unlike Tony, that there is more than enough time to make experts but not enough accessibility. If an 18 yo kid wanted to learn and work in the carpentry union in St. Louis, is it free and easy for them to find resources or to apply themselves to that gainful career path? Or, is it easier to find work in restaurant or retail or carrying 2 x6s upstairs for minimum but immediate pay?) ANYWAY, I recently saw an episode of Ask This Old House and found out that I might have been wrong (I know, shocking... <facetious) about the "joke" on "Harvard" (see the very appropos titled Drilling into Studs for Electrical Wiring/ Tool Lab episode). Could the 2 X 6s (and their increased costs) have been more about the contractor/ builders claiming the need for the ease of winging it while drilling and still likely being up to code in any state?? I love Ask This House because they ask questions, try to help problem- solve, and don't judge people's consumer spending, socio- econnomic status, houses, problems, family, or friends. I think Everyday Green Home Podcast is WICKED BEST when it is trying to be the kind of rising tide that lifts all boats, while also warning of the rising tides.
Inspiring and educating podcast. The two hosts have great knowledge and great guests!