Saturday, February 25, 2006

Blue Vinyl

Last night, I watched Blue Vinyl, an investigative documentary in the style of Michael Moore about PVC (aka polyvinyl chloride, aka vinyl). Is vinyl harmful? Is the fabrication and disposal of vinyl harmful? Many new homes today are full of vinyl products from PVC piping to the siding of may homes. The documentary found it roots when the filmmakers' father decides to replace the rotten wooden siding of the house with vinyl.
My father’s answer to rotten wood…
Everyone assured me vinyl siding was safe, and would only let off toxic gas in the rare event of a house fire. But after my experience with cancer caused by DES [a synthetic estrogen and anti-miscarriage drug prescribed to my mother and millions of other women], I figured any material so loaded with synthetic chemicals had to pose some kind of risk. Later I asked my dad, "If you had known that over the course of its lifecycle, from the factory to the incinerator, vinyl produces a wide array of deadly pollutants that threaten our future with a global toxic crisis, would you still have put it on the house?" "I hope not, honey," he said. "But they didn't write that on the box." So, with a piece of vinyl siding firmly in hand (a remnant from my parent’s house) I took off – on a journey to re-write the outside of the box.
(Transcript from
As the documentary unravels, the filmmakers from New York go in search of alternatives to vinyl. ... and they end up in Marin County, California. Of course. Where else in the USA would you find the dedication to nature as in Marin County and the Bay Area. Many people in the Bay Area (and especially San Francisco and Marin county) have strong believes and walk the talk. Whether it is about politics, banning of guns, free sex, not eating meat, tasting marijuana, the Bay Area is your place to be. It is quite remarkable how many people here are truely dedicated to an environmental friendly livestyle. And not because the government taxes make you sign up to be a member of greenpeace. The Toyota Prius and Honda Civic Hybrid rule. The Altamont wind farm is one of the biggest in the world and produces over 650 M kWh. And you see solar panels on many roofs. So, it wasn't too much of surprise that the filmmaker came to San Francisco for help.
In San Francisco I cut a deal with a “green” straw-bale house builder to come home with me to Long Island to help talk my parents into stucco.
If you are looking for expert advise on building a green house, take a look what our friends are building in the middle of San Francisco: the Bernal Sustainable Homes Project.
The Bernal Sustainable Homes Project is a joint effort of two families to build their dream homes in San Francisco, California. For us, dream homes are not about building the biggest house possible or the house with the most expensive features. For us, its about building stylish, modern homes, using the greenest building techniques, services and products possible.



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