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Bootstrap Conservation

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Published on: Apr. 2, 1997

Last revision: Oct. 26, 2010

an abundance of wildlife dependent on the area's undisturbed, rich natural features. The Oxbow Lake and Nature Trail is successful because a close-knit, small community of people has invested in it.

Examples of community "bootstrap conservation," such as the Bonebrake Center or Oxbow Lake, thrive because volunteers make sure the physical place matches the educational needs of their community. In Shelby County, it was a place for school groups to visit. In Salem, it was the desire to restore a wonderful old house and enhance 12 natural acres. The Earthways Home, located in the heart of St. Louis, is no different.

Earthways - Home of the Future

Before the Earthways Home was established, there was Earthways - a non-profit St. Louis environmental group responsible for bringing Earth Day celebrations to St. Louis. In mid-December 1992, the group leased a 110-year-old house located at 3617 Grandel Square from Grand Center, Inc. They decided to restore the two-story, brick house using as many recycled materials and energy-efficient techniques as possible. Over four years and about $500,000 later, the result is an attractive house, surrounding native plant garden and hands-on exhibits and displays that show people how a forlorn, run-down house in the heart of St. Louis' entertainment district can be turned into an educational model for conservation, recycling and efficiency.

"Most people, when they first come here, are surprised by what they see. The house has recycled and environmentally friendly things in it that a lot of people have never even thought of," explains Laura Kezer, director.

Visitors to the Earthways Home walk across carpet made from recycled plastic bottles and padding made from recycled tires. They can inspect some of the most energy-efficient appliances available. "Our tiles in both the kitchen and bathroom are made from recycled windshield glass," says Kezer. The toilet has a small hand washing sink on top of the back tank which uses "pre-flush" water from the tank.

The home's energy-efficiency does not stop at appliances or decoration. The walls are filled with cellulose insulation made from recycled paper, visible through attractive, cut-away sections of the wall. Visitors also can venture down to the basement and see how the geothermal heating and cooling system makes use of deep underground pipes that tap into a steady, underground temperature of about 58 degrees. The house's electrical system is solar-powered.

"The house is here to serve as a model for what many homes will need to look

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