Thursday, March 1, 2012

Living in a Green House

This is not your average Korean apartment. One resident is in her forties, one is just on the verge of thirty, two have yet to turn twenty, and nobody is related to anyone else. None of the old, weathered, donated appliances bear that glossy flower pattern. Posted next to the door of each bedroom is description of its inhabitant, complete with a Polaroid photo. The calendar is marked with days on which trash has been disposed of: exactly once so far in 2012. There are two boxes of worms on the living room floor. Welcome to Green Home 2012, or as I like to call it, the GreenHouse. 

 Used appliances, all donated by friends and supporters

            The GreenHouse is a community living project loosely associated with the Daegu Green Consumers Network. The four residents – Myeong-hee, Gyeong-won, Da-mo, and Do-yeon – spend their workdays trying to make Daegu a greener place in their own way, but also wanted to incorporate their values into their lives at a fundamental level; they decided to do so by pooling their energy and resources and moving in together. I recently had the chance to interview Gyeong-won and Do-yeon about the project. Here’s what they had to say:

How is the green house different from other houses? 
Gyeong-won: Before moving into the GreenHouse, people agree to follow three rules:
1)    Avoid eating all animal products
2)    Reduce non-recyclable trash to zero.
3)    Not watch TV.

Do-yeon: In other houses, people are related by blood, but here, four strangers have come together to form a community under the banner of “Eco-friendly City Living.” 

 Vegan Bibimbap Buffet line at the housewarming party

And on the plate

What aspects of living in the GreenHouse have you been enjoying?  Is there anything that’s tough or unpleasant?
Gyeong-won:  I like being able to live my own life. Living with my parents was comfortable, but you always have to try to read their mind. On the other hand, we’re living as a group, so I can’t just eat what I want when I want. Instead, we all stick to a certain time and eat together, cooking when it’s your turn. Of course, you don’t have to eat then, you can eat on your own if you’d like.
Do-yeon:  It’s fun trying to conserve as much as possible and reduce our negative influences, and I like living inside an experiment. The city’s dreary, I like enjoying myself with people, eating and cleaning and doing the laundry together. Surprisingly enough, there’s nothing I don’t like about the project. 

How to have fun without a TV

Are there similar projects elsewhere in Korea?
There are many forms of eco-friendly living. If you go looking, you’ll find tons of communities, groups, and schools doing it!

What can others learn from the Greenhouse?  Do you think you can help others to make their houses greener?
Gyeong-won:  I hope we give people the confidence to realize that they can live this way, too. It’s hard to do on your own, but I hope that some people will be able to find the courage after seeing us.
Do-yeon:  That would be great. Even if it’s just minor things like unplugging electronics, reducing trash, walking, and wearing long underwear, I hope we can have some sort of influence.


I’d also like to live a little greener. What should I do?  Where should I start?
Gyeong-won:  I think it’s best to start by reducing your meat consumption. If you’re interested in talking about the effects eating meat has on the environment and on your health, stop by the DGCN.
Do-yeon:  [Answers with a proverb:] The oil lamp doesn’t shine under its own base. Don’t go looking for something far away, start with stuff in your own life.

Home vermiculture!

Have you thought about the future of the GreenHouse? 
Gyeong-won:  I hope that a few other people go ahead and make another GreenHouse somewhere else in the city. I plan to keep on living here in the original one.
I hope that it stays experimental. Not just stick to one way, but to try this and that, always with the goal of being eco-friendly.

Vermiculture closeup!  For an even more detailed shot, email me. 

Can you give me three word that describe the Green House?
Gyeong-won:  Simple, Candid, Fun
Do-yeon: (In English) Amazing, fantastic, unbelievable, revolution.

If you’d like to know more about the GreenHouse, visit their blog at 

Clockwise from 12o'clock:  Lucy (Myeong-hee), Do-yeon, Damo, and Ryan (Gyeong-won)

*This article will appear in an upcoming issue of Daegu Compass

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