16 Apr

We’re Part of the Problem… Now What?

in the middle of the sprawl

Not too long ago I woke up and realized…I’m living as part of the problem: the middle of suburbia…in an outdated, energy hog of a house, a big grassy yard, and a car I drive every time I need anything because I’m smack dab in the middle of residential sprawl.

What can I do about the environmental problems?  Should I move to the city and live in a dense urban core?  Should I move to the country and live off the land and off the grid?  Certainly being in the suburbs is the worst place to be…everybody says so. “Sprawl”: it is a bad word, and I am part of it.  I grew up in a cul-de-sac neighborhood…and now I live in one.

So what do I do now?  Move? (Hey, I like my house and my neighbors and being close to my parents.) Build a new ‘green’ house from scratch? Um, no…can’t afford that. So how about trying to bloom where I am planted?  How about making my house, in the suburbs of St. Louis, the most sustainable I can?  I mean, if I moved, someone else would just move in…and maybe not make the same green choices. By staying put no new materials have to be made and used…they were made 35 years ago when the house was built….and maybe, just maybe, I’ll be able to set an example to the millions of others who wake up one morning and find that they are living in the suburbs…as part of the sprawl…and we can turn the cul-de-sac neighborhoods of the past into the peri urban/semi rural, suburban agriculture, alternative energy villages of the future.


  • Reduce Energy Consumption by 50% in two years
  • Grow Food  - 2010 300lbs (10% of our estimated food consumption for 2 people this year, and up to 500lbs for next year)

So welcome to the Sprawlstainable adventure, and we hope you come back and check the blog from time to time to see how we’re doing on our quest to make things just a little better in our little corner of the world. Upcoming topics / posts will include:

  • Geothermal Heating and Cooling Installation
  • Home Energy Audit with blower door test and thermal heat camera
  • Vegetable and Fruit Gardening
  • Organic Lawn and Garden Care
  • Composting
  • Principles of Permaculture
  • Grassroots Community Building
  • Deer Proofing and Protection for Yard and Garden
  • Canning and Preserving Your Harvest

4 thoughts on “We’re Part of the Problem… Now What?

  1. Amazing website and project! I am so excited that you are trying to become sustainable in everything! Good luck and I will keep watching!

  2. Loved the article in the Suburban Journal, and our family will certainly be following your project. Kelly M in Des Peres

  3. Thanks for this great new blog, Mary.

    I think we all need to bloom where we’re planted…the last thing we need to do is indulge ourselves by destroying more habitat in order to build something “green.” What we need to do is make our existing homes as green as possible. If everyone did that, we wouldn’t need the oil that is spilling into the Gulf of Mexico even as I type.

    I’m rehabbing my 1903 historic full masonry building in the City of St. Louis to be as energy efficient as I can make it. This project will ultimately include both geothermal and solar PV.

    Thanks so much, Mary, for sharing your experiences with geothermal. I will share mine as soon as I can.

    In the meantime, I would like to challenge all readers to look at their own homes and ask, “What can I do to make my home more efficient?” Do you already use CFLs instead of incandescent lights? How’s your insulation? What are you doing for energy efficient window treatments? There are many low cost ways to enhance energy efficiency. Check out the EERE web site for many free or cheap ideas: http://www.eere.energy.gov/topics/homes.html

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