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Lessons Learned the Hard Way: Home Shows Aren’t Eco Shows

I’ll tell you a secret….

I’ve never been to a convention.

I was super excited to check out the Northwest Flower & Garden Show this year, but the frugal in me said “$20 ticket? Just so you can see a Hobbit House?” (& fight Seattle traffic then pay Seattle parking prices to do so?!). I suppose I could tried harder to talk myself into going on Friday when most cubicle dwellers were working the grind, most children were in school & thus most of the crowd was absent — PLUS Casper Babypants was performing that day! (Even tho I had already seen Chris Ballew perform with the Presidents the weekend before for PUSAFest). Needless to say, I couldn’t bear to part with the money. Besides, we were supposed to go volunteer a few hours harvesting potatoes for a local food bank (which, unfortunately, got rained out. That being said, I don’t have any awesome blog post to write about it. Tragic.) So, when the opportunity arose to check out the Everett Home & Garden Show for cheaper, closer (Yay! Less carbon emissions!) & free parking… I was stoked.

But remember… I’ve never been to a trade show.


Salesmen. Salesmen as far as the eye could see. Maybe not nearly as skeezy as Danny DiVito in Matilda, but salesmen none-the-less. “Interested in new windows?” “You look like you could use a new bathroom” “When’s the last time you had your roof replaced? We offer free estimates!” I don’t quite understand why so many diet fad items were there though. It was overwhelming while being underwhelming. While I can’t say I was impressed by the lack of recycled and eco-friendly options offered, I was thrilled with one thing.

Swag anyone?

Part of me wanted to refuse the Made in China, mass produced, free-advertising trinkets. But the stuff I did snag, I talked myself into for their eco-friendliness:

– CFL bulbs to use 1/4 the energy of incandescents, courtesy of the Snohomish County PUD.
– Reusable totes to keep plastic bags out of landfills (& shockingly, I’m actually pretty good at remembering to bring them). As you can tell by the logos, these were provided by SnoCo PUD & AlaskaUSA Mortgage Company.
– Water bottle because I can’t even begin to explain how ridiculous it is to pay for bottles of water from the health implications to the environmental impact. (Courtesy of those nice guys at Judd & Black who answered all Brian’s questions about the energy efficiency of their washer/dryer units on display)
– & my personal fave, the gorgeous hyacinth from Coast Cabins (which make adorable cabins that could easily be converted to tiny houses)

We also supported some local artisans for not much more than we would of spent supporting companies based in other states & shipped in to WA:

Tribley’s BBQ from Ferndale & Just Heavenly Fudge out of Lopez Island.

Just Heavenly Fudge is — well — just heavenly!

It’s probably a good thing Lopez Island is 2 1/2 hours away or I could get really chubby, really fast. Other cool, thought provoking things we saw?


When we have too many potato towers & tire swings, tires apparently make really fantastic roofing. I love the green (er… black?) idea of this, but as an even crunchier friend pointed out, “Why would you buy it from someone else when you could make it yourself?” Besides, terra-roofs don’t need shingles.

Look at the water heater to the left… Now look at the water heater to the right… Now back at the left…

This was a display at Day & Nite Plumbing & Heating. Do you know what you’re looking at? They’re water heaters. The right used well water. The left… not so much. I’ll let you take a guess what was flowing in that one. Clue: It’s what most of us use. (City water). Not what I was expecting when we asked about it.

Props to the Snohomish County Conversation Society! They’re booth was full of so much awesome information & resources, my mind wanted to explode. I wish they would of had more people manning it to allow me to green-geek out.

So, it wasn’t a complete waste. We managed to learn a lot… Like most the people at home shows aren’t trying to save much of anything.

Especially money.