Friday, September 10, 2010

The Greenie's Dilemma

The fence man is here. And the post holes are being dug right now. But this moment has not come without some internal debate on being green and what part I play in our throwaway culture. The concept of being sustainable is so overused to the point of being trite, but even with a little courtyard project, I get to decide if I want to add to the trash pile or not.

As I moved ahead with courtyard enlargement plans, my initial consideration was to go all new. Just tear everything out and put up a shiny new fence. I love new stuff. Overpackaged new, smells like new, just off the boat and made by underpaid workers from China new.

But after my husband grumbled about the cost of a new fence, he tried working the self-righteous greenie in me to see if the costs could be reduced. “Why don’t we reuse the wood. It’s perfectly good wood. It will be more … green.” He got me.

So after some consideration of whether I would be happy with a weathered look (yes, I decided), the contractor and I decided that re-using the wood is what would be done. It wasn’t going to save all that much money, but I could now wear my greenie badge with pride.

This morning. Bad news. As Marco looked more closely at the current fence construction, he regretfully informed me that the only way to reuse the planks would be to leave them in place and just move the entire fence panel.  Because the homebuilder’s subcontractor used nails instead of screws to fasten the planks to the framing, the now-cracked redwood planks would fracture even more if they were pulled off. If we left it alone, with some power washing and wood stain, I could get another 4 years out of my fence. Or, for $50 more, I could get all new fence material made of treated Douglas fir and have at least 10 years of fence. It won’t be redwood, but it will look just as good and last just as long. Guess I’m going with all new after all.

But I’ll still be left with the old wood, lying there in an accusatory pile as it awaits its fate either as kindling or a trip to the landfill. Neither my husband or I are terribly handy nor do we have a lot of power tools to make nifty stuff. So I’ve been thinking, thinking, thinking … and I came up with …

Bee houses!!

According the very informative instructions by the Montana Wildlife Gardner, they are pretty simple to make without needing a lot of skill or tools. Now we’ll be able to salvage the wood and try our hands at pollinator habitat creation simultaneously. I’ll let you know how it goes.

Solitary bee houses.
Photo by Justin Knopp, The Bumblebee Chronicle

1 comment:

  1. What a great idea! And the guy in Montana is right--the whole idea of bees wanting their own space but really really wanting to live right next door to each other is pretty entertaining. Bee houses and a new fence. Congratulations on having your eco-cake and eating it, too. :)