Better Homes and Gardens

Putting the ‘eco’ in ‘deco’


If we’ve said it once, we’ve said it 10,000 times: Whatcom County loves to recycle.

And in addition to the practice of reusing everything from building materials to discarded furniture to errant rays of sunshine, the residents of this corner of the globe are prone to pay attention to ecologically sound practices when it comes to maintaining—or building—their homes and gardens.

It’s no surprise, then, that Sustainable Connections’ annual “Imagine This! Home & Landscape Tour” has proven to be so popular. Now in its 11th year, the early summer gathering focuses on sustainable materials, affordable design and eco-friendly goods for both inside and outside your treasured abode.

At the 10 homes and gardens that will be open to the public June 22-23 throughout Whatcom County, attendees can see these smart ideas in action. Passive solar designs and solar installations, money-saving energy retrofits, alternative construction materials,  urban agriculture, new homes with open space and old homes with new life will be among the highlights of the tour. Those who purchase tickets will also receive a detailed resource guide about the products and services featured by local earth-friendly design enthusiasts—in other words, they won’t just be admiring other people’s innovations, but also learning more about how they can make them, too.

“Imagine This!” ticket holders should also make sure to pencil in time to attend the first-ever Green Playhouse Raffle happening Sunday afternoon at the courtyard at Whatcom Museum’s Lightcatcher Building. Seven environmentally friendly playhouses that were built by teams of local builders, architects and designers will be up for auction, with one eye-catching mini-castle going to a lucky raffle winner. The kid-friendly event will also be bustling with face painters, balloon artists and live music—and the playhouses will be actually be open for play to the younger set during the festivities—making it a perfect way to end the weekend.

And, although it’s not technically part of the Sustainable Connections-sponsored tour, it’s worth noting that, come the afternoon of Sat., June 22, the RE Store will be celebrating 20 years of operation in Bellingham with a Customer Appreciation Day. Residents are invited to celebrate with free hot dogs and lemonade, an in-store treasure hunt, live music by the Gallus Brothers and the High Mountain String Band (and others), a photo booth, wacky carnival games, junk juggling, a recycled art station and free design consultations with reuse master Eberhard Eichner.

“The RE Store has been keeping busy saving materials and money for Whatcom County since 1993 and having fun the entire time,” Education and Marketing Director Jason Darling noted in a recent press release.

“In two decades, the organization has accomplished a great deal. The RE Store has saved more than 60 million pounds of building materials from needless disposal in its 20 years—the equivalent of 75 fully loaded Boeing 747s. The nonprofit employs up to 40 people during the peak of the building season and has a strong volunteer and job-training program to boot.”

It probably goes without saying that, while you’re celebrating the RE Store, you should look around for good deals on used building materials. If you don’t find any, well, you’re not looking very hard.

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