The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

September 4, 2012

Carol Stark: Green makes sense when it’s common sense

By Carol Stark
Globe Editor

— When thinking about living green, many people — myself included — think about their checkbooks and how to finance a higher cost of living. Instead, people should think about their grandmas.

Grandma hung her clothes on the line; closed heavy drapes in the summer to keep the house cool; planted trees around the farmhouse to provide shade; and composted scraps out near the half-acre garden.

Grandma rationed the number of trips she made to town. Mine didn’t drive to the store every day. She lived during an era when there was one car. And if grandad was using it, well, that was that.

But that was then. This is now.

However, we shouldn’t discount grandma’s “waste not because you never know what tomorrow will bring” way of life. I’m not talking about “green” products that are just part of a marketing campaign. I don’t believe that all the advertised “green” cleaning products, cosmetics, shampoos and pet products live up to their claims. Rather, some markets use the word “green” hoping to appeal to your conscience.

Recently I met Catherine Hart and Andrew Whitehead with GreenTown Joplin, a not-for-profit group dedicated to helping Joplin residents rebuild after the tornado with more durable and energy-efficient homes. They cut their teeth more than five years ago in Greensburg, Kan., when an EF-5 tornado leveled the town, destroying its infrastructure and over 90 percent of its homes and buildings. The community, which is much smaller than Joplin, decided it would rebuild in a sustaining manner. There were no mandates, but rather a desire to become a town for the future.

Now, GreenTown is working to replicate its organization, and Joplin is its first affiliate. It was created in September of 2011, just a few months after the 2011 tornado that ripped out a third of our town.

So, what do they mean by building “green”? According to the folks at GreenTown Joplin, a green home is one that, when compared with a standard home, uses less energy, water and natural resources. It also creates less waste and is healthier for to live in than a standard home. Hey, that kind of sounds like grandma’s house, doesn’t it?

Maybe we should just exchange the word “green” with common sense. If someone told me it would save me money on my water bill to use drip irrigation, I’d be more likely to listen than if he or she just told me it was the “green” thing to do.

What I did learn through the meeting with Hart and Whitehead is that GreenTown Joplin’s help is available to anyone — not just those rebuilding after the tornado. That means if you want free materials that will tell you how to find energy-efficient windows, help is available.

You may also attend their workshops or just get some one-on-one help with a project.

Debby Woodin, the Globe’s City Hall reporter, featured several people who are rebuilding with the help of GreenTown in a story in Saturday’s paper, in case you missed it.

GreenTown Joplin has a full-time presence in Joplin, located on the second floor of Suzanne’s Natural Foods, at 3106 Connecticut Ave. Its phone number is 417-622-0612 and its website is

Think about making a visit. Not because “green” is a buzz word, but because it’s a way of life that makes sense for our future.

Grandma knew what she was talking about.

Carol Stark is editor of The Joplin Globe. Address correspondence to her, c/o The Joplin Globe, P.O. Box 7, Joplin, MO 64802 or email Follow Carol Stark on Twitter @carolstark30.