Cost: Just her time.
Nothing goes to waste at Candace’s place. Discarded hubcaps, curvy sticks, and broken glass become objets d’art. Colored-glass wine bottles—donated by a local recycler and collected from the trash—create a mosaic wall along the front of the house. The project, as Candace says, serves to demonstrate that so-called waste materials don’t have to end up in landfills if someone is creative enough to find a use for them.
FYI: Buying “green” is not always a good thing. Green glass, especially that used for green wine bottles, is not highly marketable as a recycled material and often goes to waste.
Even with all of these improvements, says Candace, the house is an “ongoing, ever-evolving” project that may never be truly finished. She keeps busy these days working on her doctoral degree in ecological science, coring lakes on Rapa Nui, and raising a teenage son, but that has not slowed her down any. Her immediate plan is to finish off the biodiesel furnace shed with cob, a wine-bottle mosaic, and a living roof.
“If you’re industrious in learning what you need to, willing to put in the sweat effort, and resourceful when finding materials, it all can be affordable—even for a single mom,” Candace says. “I’m proof of that.”
John Patterson is president of Mr. Sun Solar and inventor of the Sol-Reliant solar water heating system. Over the past 28 years, his company has installed more than 2,000 solar energy systems, including PV, solar water heating, and solar pool heating systems.
Suzanne Olsen is a writer and photographer specializing in renewable energy and the environment.