Sep '08 Go Green

Free to be GREEN

By Elissa Scott

With environmental considerations on many people's minds, I am seeing the need to downsize by those going green in Los Angeles. In Santa Monica, hybrid cars park for free at meters. Fuel efficient hybrids are also permitted to use the carpool lanes while driving alone. The further we evolve in our consumer behaviors, the more rewarding for our planet and ourselves. One friend offered to fly from Europe on an airplane to visit her family, if they would commit to going vegetarian for a year to offset her carbon footprint. Others plant oxygen releasing trees online to battle the carbon demons.

As far as we've come, it seems as though we still have some progress to make. Simply, we all love the comfortable luxuries of life. One of these eye-openers for me is rethinking how we heat and cool our interior environments. Each space I step into in L.A. seems to step-up the bone-chilling A/C. Just how do those glamorous starlets stay warm at night in the clubs in their mini-skirts? I have to leave these chilly places to warm up outside in the summer California desert to join patio party-goers lounging under fuel burning heat lamps. I know how delicious air conditioning can be, especially after traveling to places like Dubai where the heat can be unbearable. Understandably, the elderly or ill may need air conditioning for quality of life. Coming and going from air-conditioned buildings can also cause discomfort as our bodies try to re-adjust to varying temperatures. Since air conditioning is used on hot days, it's free to be green when capitalizing on the sun by using a solar powered unit ( Ceiling fans and blackout blinds are another option. Also, improving insulation with strawbale rates high. Feel cool and reflect heat with light and airy colours inside on walls and furniture. Outside, light-coloured roofs defer more heat, as do deciduous trees and awnings for shading sunny windows. Other great resources for softening our fuel dependency can be found on

Not only can you be "eco-lodgical" by reducing heating and cooling consumption, but by conserving water. The king of all ways to save water is by starting with the 'throne'. I've never stepped foot in a casino, yet I'd gamble that a low-flow toilet is the royal flush. With our consumption of water around 180-200 liters daily, approximately 70,000 liters of drinking water are used per person per year. Common flush toilets use 15-20,000 liters. ( With that in mind, consider a composting toilet when renovating or building your home. Solar powered composting toilets can be installed in loo of ... ahem, or in lieu of traditional toilets. Re-routing grey water from showers and washing machines through toilets gives water a second life, saving a precious resource.

Speaking of water conservation, while hiking in the popular Runyan Canyon overlooking celebrity homes like Prince's purple mansion in the Hollywood Hills, a passerby commented on how un-eco it was for these homes to have a pool in the desert. Wow. I had never thought of a pool in the desert as anything but a brilliant idea and a luxury. But, in this 'aha moment' it reframed for me how unmindful our luxuries can become.

Seeing pictures from space of our biggest home - the Earth mansion - reminds us we are all connected in the most unlimited of ways. Some say one plus one equals two. However, I say one and one become eleven. Bringing small, simple eco-sensible steps home can have a greater impact overall, at the end of the day.

When Elissa Scott isn’t practicing Ashtanga, she is a Home Design Expert, Columnist and Professional Speaker, specializing in eco- chic renovation and new construction. Visit her website at

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