The Cul-de-Sac Syndrome, by John Wasik
“Turning Around the Unsustainable American Dream” is the subtitle of The Cul-de-Sac Syndrome which my husband and I have just been reading. Kelly’s green home building blog has a long review of it, so I just want to reflect on one of its themes.
I pretty much missed the macmansioning of America.
Sure, I would see the big castles when driving around the US, but in the last couple of decades I’ve lived mainly in an old neighborhood of a city (Olympia, Washington), in an unusual small town in rural Colorado (Crestone, home of numerous spritual centers of all faiths), and in Mexico.
So I didn’t realize till reading this book the extent to which huge, un-sustainable homes with no ecological features were sprouting up. Now, as Wasik discusses, the mortgages, huge utility bills, high property taxes, and often long commutes that owners of these places must endure are taking their toll. Most Americans probably realize this more than I did in Mexico!
Can these homes be venues for simple green living? It is probably rare now, but there are things that can be done. Many of them have yards that can have gardens. Their designer kitchens would probably lend themselves well to growing sprouts on the vast countertops. Even if zoning calls for single family living, I would imagine that quite a few people living in them will take in housemates or even quietly remodel to form duplexes.
Things like solar panels require more money and still have a relatively long payback period, so they may not be the best choices at present. But greater insulation, even just insulating curtains on a small section of the house which is heated more than the rest of the place, are quite possible.
If you live in a MacMansion, or know people who do, do you have ideas for how they can be greened?
And go here to find out more about the book: