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circa 2010
Elena M. Michel, Msc.


GIY™ is the official Second Eden Studio blog that empowers you to green it yourself! We strive to inspire and enrich your life both at work and home. GIY offers exclusive stories from green collar professionals, sustainability trends, and green building inspirations near and afar.

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Can Dating Be Green?

Posted on June 21, 2014 at 9:15 PM Comments comments (7)


Yes, dating can be green. As a single mom, dating can be somewhat of a chore, bore, snore... and more rhyming words. Below are five sustainability steps to save your time and the planet!

1. Save your time. First, join an online dating site. The club and bar scene is still a viable meeting place, but online dating can weed out bad matches. This is useful because a bad match for you is a good match for someone else; so, everyone’s time is made more efficient.

2. Save your battery. Second, don't obsess about who contacts who first. What is more important is the flow of the messages. If you are interested in learning more about someone, don't forget to show it by ending each message with a question or two. If the responder does the same, it means they are interested. If not, it is possible that they are simply being polite by responding.

3. Save your gas. Next, let's say you get the first inklings of chemistry and wish to meet. Thus far, your impressions are strictly based on photos and text. However, you wouldn't want to drive to the other side of town and after five minutes face-to-face think, "Gee, this was a waste of time." Thus, prolong meeting in person by inviting them to talk vis webcam. It saves gas, money, time, and any awkwardness you may have stepped into. Just to be safe, have a user name that is difficult to determine your personal information, increase your privacy settings, and remember you can shut them off (literally) if it gets creepy or inappropriate.

4. Save more gas! Finally, let's say that all three steps were successful. Meeting via webcam gave you a more complete idea of the person: facial expressions, voice, sense of rhythm, and so on. Plan to meet during the day for coffee or your lunchbreak near your place of work to save on time and gas. If your schedule isn't contusive, you work from home, or evenings/weekends are better, plan to meet on a day where you're already running errands. Choose a familiar and public place with wifi, but not one of your favorite haunts. Arrive earlier, and bring a device that lets you get some work done. After the date, insist that you need to get more work done, and that way you can leave your meeting place after they are long gone. This is both for security reasons as well as making you feel your gas miles were put towards productive use.

5. Save the planet. Wow, congratulations! You've made it to the second date, and I hope it is everything you've dreamt of. Your dates can be made greener by supporting local businesses, spending time in nature, choosing to travel via public transport or cycling, meeting close to home, and enjoying establishments with good green ethics.

Your future true love will appreciate your efficiency and green sensibility. Following the first four steps saves time, money, and the environment. The fifth step maintains the sustainability lifestyle that makes you so lovable in the first place.

Shipping Container Architecture: Contain your excitement

Posted on June 2, 2014 at 5:40 PM Comments comments (0)

Architecture re-imagines shipping containers to create modern, sustainable, and affordable housing. Shipping containers have been designed to stack, last a long time, and are built with hardy materials. Shipping containers come in several standard sizes, but most buildings typically use 9'-5" H x 8' W x 20' L or 40' L.

Converting shipping containers into buildings ideally utilizes those which are pre-insulated. The insulated containers have been designed for transporting perishable goods and foods. The insulation is a compact mineral wool; and without metal or wood studs, there are no cold bridges.

Additional benefits include:


  • Stackable
  • Long lasting
  • Hardy materials
  • Structurally light
  • Minimal construction foundation due to sturdiness
  • Affordable as unfinished container costs $1,200-5,000
  • Ideal for modernists
  • Sustainable and upcycled
  • Efficient envelope
  • Pre-wired electrically
  • Transportable pre and post-construction
  • Optional offsite construction and onsite assembly
  • Flat roofs are ideal for solar panels

Shipping container architecture has been used by everyone from homeowners, mixed-use developers, and even big companies like Starbucks and Pumpa. Just like building blocks, the combinations are as infinate as the imagination. Check out some great designs on the Second Eden Studio website.

Keeping Kids Busy in Summer

Posted on May 18, 2014 at 2:55 PM Comments comments (0)

The clock in your house is ticking down to summer vacation. If you're like me, you're dreading the inevitable mantra, "I'm bored!" Here is a list of national websites that can guide you to a greener and less boring summer for you and your children:

  • AAM. The American Association of Museums website has links to all registered museums in the USA. Visit the link and you can zero in on the type of museums that feature environmentally driven events, collections, and interactives.

  • Local Harvest. The Local Harvest website enables you to connects your with your local farmers' markets, organic farms, and community agricultural events. You'll be able to teach the kids about eating healthy, how agriculture works, and what organic living means.

  • National Parks & Recreation Association. The NPRA website provides an interactive calendar allowing you to input your location and desired happenings to advise on the best events and courses for you and your family. So many of their outdoor activities are nature based and environmentally friendly.

  • National Park Service. The NPS website search engine locates the parks nearest you and what activities are happening there. The NPS functions with an environmental agenda and always has new insights and adventures to share with the public.

  • Netflix. Rainy days are inevitable, but they don't have to be wasted opportunity to learn about environmentalism. There are many family friendly documentaries and TV series on digital media and Netflix: Blue PlanetMicrocosmos, Wild China, Blackfish, just to name a few. There are so many more, and I would be thrilled if you would comment on your favorites as to expand our repertoire. 

You can also investigate your local YMCA, public libraries, local parks, school district, and cinemas featuring free weekday morning movies for kids. Best of luck keeping your sanity and children busy this summer!

Junk the Junk Mail

Posted on May 14, 2014 at 10:55 AM Comments comments (0)

I hate junk mail! Credit card approvals, coupons, leaflets, catalogues, menus, and for some reason I need to insure everything. Aside from never needing earthquake insurance in Charlotte, the environmentalist in me cringles every time I pull down the squeaky mailbox flap.

The internet provides us with all of the solutions, inquiries, and deals we could ever want or need. Thankfully, the internet also has the solution we need to discontinue unsolicited mail. Here's how to junk the junk mail forever: 

  • Opt Out Prescreening. Opt Out offers a free online form that puts you on a do not mail list. You choose to opt out for five years or permanently. Opt Out primarily focuses on national mailings. Visit the" target="_blank">Opt Out website to look forward to visiting your mailbox again.

  • Do Not Call. I have noticed that many of the companies mailing unsolicited materials are also calling my phone. Prevent junk mail for your ears by filling out a quick form on the" target="_blank">Do Not Call website. 

  • Email. If a particular company is persistent, emailing them directly is effective. This tip works especially well for solicited mail that you prefer digital correspondences only: bills, charities, notification, and others.

You might be thinking, "Gee, Queen of Green, that just seems too simple." It is! When I open my mailbox, I see snail mail from the people I love and my latest Netflix adventure. Best of luck junking your junk mail!

Greening Your Green Thumb

Posted on May 6, 2014 at 1:15 PM Comments comments (0)

It's that time of year again. The temperature is rising and so are your allergies. But the good news is that it's time to get back into the yard and exercise your green thumb. 

It feels as if the market is saturated with tips and how-to ideas that will make your garden greener. Sustainability has endured internationally to prove it is not a trend, but rather a lifestyle integrating itself into every facet of our lives. Gardening is no exception. In this week's g.i.y. blog we weed through the non-sense and get to the root of good green gardening.


  • Composting. Composting is always a good idea. Any non-meat food and natural yard waste can be composted. You can purchase a composter from most stores that sell plants or order one online. Otherwise, you can save money and resources by building your own from shipping pallets. Composting is fuss free and ensures that you'll have quality soil for years to come.

  • Organic. There seems to be a lot of debate over organic plants and plant food verses everything else. The benefits of going organic is the reduction of chemicals in the soil and groundwater. The long term environmental impact of non-organic plants and fertilizer affect both your local ecosystem as well as your immediate yard by squelching all of the natural nutrients in your soil. Also, organic fruit and veg taste so much better than chemically altered and fertilized food.

  • Plants. If you're like me, you like to save money where ever possible. Planting perennials (instead of annuals) ensures a lasting beauty as well as a one time purchase. The enjoyment of watching your perennials thrive year after year certainly outlasts your blooming summer annuals. Environmentally, annuals carry a larger embodied energy than perennials. Further ensuring the success of your plants and perennials lie in choosing those which are indigenous to your area and more like to thrive.

  • Rainwater Harvesting. Harvesting rainwater is a method by which water is collected and stored in large bucket or barrel. Rainwater barrels linking to your rainwater drain pipes are available for purchase. Nevertheless, any bucket or barrel in an optimal spot will do. However, whe ever open water is exposed to the air, it becomes a breeding ground for certain insects. Pour vegetable oil into the water, and a thin film will rise to the surface to deter unwanted insects. Overall, rainwater harvesting saves on your water bill and reduces water consumption.

These basics will enable you to get the reflective balling rolling in your yard. Fortunately, there are countless resources to utilize for any further inquiries: NWF, Sierra Club, Mother Earth News, and Sustainable Gardening for Dummies. Good luck greening your green thumb!