Green is by far the trendiest color of the decade. For years now, we’ve been bombarded with information about sustainable homes, LEED-certified building, organic eating, eco-friendly products, biodiesel gas and recycling extravaganzas, ad infinitum.

It’s good stuff, but this influx of information can lead to eco exhaustion. If you feel it, you aren’t alone — The New York Times ran a piece last summer about “green noise, static caused by urgent, sometimes vexing or even contradictory information played at too high a volume for too long.”

The Lakewood Neighborhood Association’s Green Team, backed by Whole Foods, recently honored five neighbors for rising above the noise, putting all the post-“Inconvenient Truth” buzzwords into action by implementing responsible, environment-saving practices in their lives.

The Green Team’s inaugural Green Home & Eggs competition, open to White Rock area residents, garnered a crop of admirable entrants in several categories, including Youth, Green Landscaping, Here and There, and Green I Am. Whole Foods awarded a $500 gift card to the grand prize winner and $100 gift cards to the winners in other categories.

Here, the greenest of the green:

Gayle Marshall, grand prize winner

Since purchasing her 1930s-built two-bedroom one-bath bungalow in Lakewood in 1991, Marshall has conducted a handful of remodeling projects, each intended to make her home more efficient and less impactful on the environment. She replaced most of her light bulbs with energy efficient compact fluorescent light bulbs, added attic insulation, and installed an Energy Star-certified air conditioning unit that uses an ozone-friendly refrigerant, which she turns on only when absolutely necessary. Marshall has replaced her toilet and kitchen appliances with water- and energy-saving versions, and traded her old car for a hybrid Prius. Marshall says she was inspired by the 1962 book, “Silent Spring” by Rachel Carson, which some credit with jump-starting the environmentalist movement. “Energy conservation and preserving the environment is something I’ve been passionate about since the hippy era,” Marshall says. She didn’t make extensive changes all at once because she didn’t want to go into debt, but with each improvement however simple, Marshall says, she felt better about the way she was living her life.

How will she spend the prize money? “I was thinking about having a party with my friends.”

Kiley Trent, Green Kids category

“When I found out I won the contest, I went around school telling everyone, ‘I am the greenest teen!’” says Trent, 16. “Not all of them found it as exciting as I did.” But then, not many teenagers are as preoccupied with caring for the environment. “My long-term goal is to create an environmentally friendly neighborhood and study environmental science and urban planning in college.” She recycles at home, leads recycling efforts and is a science class aide at her school, Lakehill Preparatory, and when it was time for Trent to get a car, instead of begging for a gas-guzzling SUV like some of her friends, she asked for a battery operated Global Electric Motorcar (GEM). “I just plug it in overnight like a cell phone,” she says. The car goes up to 25 miles per hour, and she can make it to school in Lakewood, to after-school practice on Ferguson Road, to the Lakewood Shopping Center, and back home on one battery charge. “People are always stopping me or walking up to me and asking me about the car,” she says. It is a good launch pad for conversation about environmental responsibility, so the attention is fine with her. “I want to make a difference and influence people. It’s also a good example of how you don’t need to drive a big truck or some expensive Lamborghini in order for your car to get attention.”

But Trent isn’t all science. She also is the cheerleading team captain; plays varsity volleyball, softball and basketball; and just made it to the state tennis competition — all the more opportunity to influence young people and spread the word.

Paul Woodfield and Melissa Stewart, Green Landscaping category

The yard of their Vickery Boulevard home is amazing — but not in that pristinely manicured, needs-water-morning-and-night sort of way. No, this landscaping design is wild. In order to “give back to the Earth,” Woodfield and Stewart turned their front and back lawns into a wildscape that provides food, shelter and nesting sites for a variety of birds, butterflies, lizards and toads. They replaced the traditional green lawn with native and drought-tolerant plants, and left areas of bare earth as “butterfly basking spots.” During the summertime, the luscious flowers attract a plethora of birds, bees and butterflies, and the homeowners have watched two yellow-crowned night herons raise a total of nine healthy chicks over the past two summers. For their efforts, Woodfield and Stewart earned a Texas Wildscape certification from the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and, of course, top landscaping honors in the Green Home & Eggs contest.

Christy Williams, Green I Am

If life gives you an abundance of non-recyclable, non-biodegradable trash (Styrofoam), make Styrofoam Art — that’s what Williams did. As a part of the Methodist Church mission, ArtSpirit, Williams collected Styrofoam trash from White Rock Lake and used it to create a cityscape of a future Dallas, a mobile of Styrofoam plate butterflies, a prayer shawl made of Styrofoam peanuts, and a pointillism piece, all showcased in an exhibit called “Here Today, Here Tomorrow.” The conservation-minded artwork is just a sample of a creative, environmentally responsible lifestyle. At home, Williams has removed a swimming pool, switched out toilets for Toto water-saving models, installed high-efficiency heating and air conditioning units, and installed a 20,000-gallon rain water collection tank, just to name a few. Green she is.

Beverly Regan, Here and There

Regan’s green living over the years has influenced some of the most moldable minds — those of her children. She used cloth diapers when they were babies, and as they grew, she continued to use cloth napkins. She recalls the first time she took her son to a birthday party when he curiously touched a paper napkin and asked, “Mommy, what is this?” As a family, the Regans continue to save water, limit paper use, conserve energy and recycle. “Yes, it’s here and there,” she says, “but every little bit helps.”

Entry forms for the Second Annual Green Home & Eggs Contest will be available beginning May 15 at Green Living in the Lakewood Shopping Center. The contest runs through Nov. 7, 2009.


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