What it’s like to live at the Sustainahouse

They applied because they wanted a supportive community and a place to learn about sustainability. Now they’re close friends, city experts in sustainable living on a budget, and some of the best-fed college students you’ll find. Their out-of-the-box lifestyle is a point of fascination for media, including a sweet infographics. As the deadline for applying to live at the Sustainahouse approaches (application is at the bottom of this link, due February 8th), we checked in with the residents to see what they’ve learned from the first semester. One nearly universal truth: it’s hard to be embarrassed. That, or they’re all close-lipped. Maybe what happens in Sustainahouse stays in Sustainahouse.

– – – – –

Claire Friedrichsen
Junior Soil Science with a minor in Sustainable Agriculture

Best meal: Kat’s brown rice pizza makes me do a little jig
Most embarrassing Sustainahouse moment? One time I was painting in my room and had decided to wear a lab coat, a 1950’s style “madmen” hat, heels and a really long skirt, kinda in the style of a 1950’s woman doctor. It was close to midnight so I thought no one would see me if I went downstairs without changing and there was Henry eating a midnight snack.
Coolest thing you learned so far about reducing your environmental impact: My “responsibility” is waste management. I tried over a couple week period to encourage the others not to use the trashcan in the kitchen. Finally after completely removing the trashcan and replacing it with a closed top one gallon bucket, were we able to stop putting recyclables in the trash. What I mean to say is that even those dedicated to recycling need more than encouraging, they need a physical barrier too (Myself included).
Do you think your time at the house will influence future plans, lifestyles, etc.? I will continue to seek other community living situations, that promote working between individuals for the common good of the house.

Li Tang
senior, Strategic Communication

Best meal: Six of us sitting around the table…
Most embarrassing Sustainahouse moment? See my roommates’ responses: )
Coolest thing you learned so far about reducing your environmental impact: Have your own chickens (the egg you just gathered from the chicken coop is still warm…)
Do you think your time at the house will influence future plans, lifestyles, etc.? It has reinforced my interest in studying and working in public communication for sustainability. But live it out before speaking up.

Henry Hellmuth
Sophmore, Plant Science and Sustainable Agriculture

Best meal: hard to place but I really enjoy that the potlucks worked out so well.
Most embarrassing moment in the Sustainahouse: I have never felt embarrassed in the Sustainahouse. Everybody farts.
Coolest thing you learned so far about reducing your environmental impact: I have learned that reducing one’s energy is easy. And becomes even easier when you work together with other people.
Do you think your time at the house will influence future plans, lifestyles, etc.?
Sustainahouse has let me hammer out my plans on how to live sustainably as possible with out spending money.

Kat Seal
sophomore, sustainable agriculture

Best meal: We have eaten more fantastic meals than I can count. I like when we all contribute to the meal and are creative with the ingredients that we have.
Most embarrassing house moment:
When you live like this, you can’t be embarrassed.
Coolest thing you learned so far about reducing your environmental impact:
 I’ve learned you can have a bigger impact as a community than as an individual.
Do you think your time at the house will influence future plans, lifestyles, etc.?
 My next roommate better be okay with raising chickens.

Monica Everett
Junior, Sustainable Agriculture major

Best meal: Wow, picking one is difficult, especially since most of our meals are followed by Claire’s or Kat’s baked goods. I’m a big fan of brown rice pizza.
Most embarrassing Sustainahouse moment: It’s pretty impossible to be embarrassed in front of this crew of sustainapeeps.
Name the coolest thing you learned so far about reducing your environmental impact: I had no idea how much water the average person uses every day. We’ve made a serious effort to reduce our consumption by “letting if mellow” (if it’s yellow), reducing shower times, coordinating laundry loads, and efficiently using dish-washing water.
Do you think your time at the house will influence future plans, lifestyles, etc.? It’s hard to imagine living alone at this point. I love the community aspect of the house, like buying, cooking, and sharing meals together. I plan to live in another community living situation and will continue the good habits that this house has engrained in my brain. I’ll definitely be more conscious of my waste from here on out, thanks to Claire’s reminder on our (tiny) trash can: “Think!”

Sally Waldman
Junior, B.S. in Math, B.A. in Music

Best Meal: Oh Geez. That’s tough. The potlucks are probably my favorite, but all are meals are pretty tasty.
Most embarrassing Sustainahouse moment:I’m not easily embarrassed so I can’t think of anything in particular. We have had some pretty awkward conversations however. Condoms are compostable.
Name the coolest thing you learned so far about reducing your environmental impact:
I enjoy hanging my laundry outside…That’s pretty cool to me.
Do you think your time at the house will influence future plans, lifestyles, etc.?
Yes. The things we do and things I’ve learned from Sustainahouse will be ideas and practices that I will carry with me for the rest of my life where ever I live. Examples include buying in bulk, keeping the thermostat low in the winter, insulating windows, and flushing only after #2.

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