It Took a Recession to Push Green Living into the Mainstream

Mary Butler

While home improvement retail giant Home Depot is feeling the effects of the down economy, and has decided to close its 34 Expo Design Centers, a new home improvement retailer is taking root: Green Depot. Green Depot, which has no relation to Home Depot, recently opened a 3,500-square foot store in downtown Manhattan. The eco-based hardware store, which sells basics such as paint, as well as kitchen cabinets, flooring, and insulation, originated with the Brooklyn-based supplier of green building materials and lifestyle products of the same name.

Green Depot is small potatoes in comparison to Home Depot. But its existence -- and the existence of such green home improvement retailers cropping up across the country -- sends a strong message: green living is growing more and more mainstream everyday.

Green Living in an Eco-Conscious Society

Sure, it's trendy. And yes, people who can afford to live in Manhattan can also afford to live an eco-conscious lifestyle. But as the cost of energy rises--this winter, heating costs have doubled in some parts of the country--living in a sustainable fashion has never made more sense. Personal finance guru David Bach and his co-author, environmental journalist Hillary Rosner, were among the first to make this connection with their best-seller, Go Green, Live Rich: 50 Simple Ways to Save the Earth and Get Rich Trying (Broadway, 2008). Now there are countless titles flooding the market, touting the same idea that being green helps keep greenbacks your pocket.

Green Living and Home Improvement
Of course, there's always a caveat. And in the case of home improvement, it's the fact that you might have to spend a little more up front when you buy sustainable building materials. But that pricier purchase often comes with the promise of paying you back in savings and good health down the road. If you've shopped for home appliances recently, you can attest to this. Whirlpool and General Electric, among others have recently introduced expensive high-efficiency washers and dryers. But none is priced without mention of the savings they can bring. Whirlpool's $1,200 top-loading Cabrio HE washer, for instance, is touted to save as much as $900 in water and energy costs over its lifetime.

From eco-friendly building materials to solar power, Green Depot to high-efficiency washers, it seems more than a little ironic that it took a recession to push green living further into the mainstream.

Wendy Bounds • Green Depot: Another Signal that 'Eco' is Moving Mainstream • Feb 13, 2009 • http://www.wsj.com • Wall Street Journal

About the Author
Mary Butler is a Boulder, Colorado based writer and editor, who spends much of her free time remodeling an old house.

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