1. Q&A with MNN’s Matt Hickman

    Matt is an eco-living expert who blogs about how to go green at home.

    What inspires you to live a green lifestyle, and how did you become an ‘eco-living expert’?

    I should confess that before I was a green blogger or any kind of “eco-living expert”  (I like to think of myself as an eco-living “helper”), I was a design-focused journalist with a knack for trend-spotting. While attending the New School’s MFA Creative Writing program, I covered travel, fashion and design for a magazine, but it wasn’t until I graduated that — by complete chance — I became involved with sustainability. Essentially, green found me and I quickly became immersed.

    What kind of things do you do to go green at home?

    Many of the things that I blog about I can’t actually do myself because I’m on a blogger’s budget and live in a shared rental apartment in Brooklyn. So when it comes to organic gardening, home solar and improvement projects, my hands are tied. Instead, I focus on practical, low-hanging fruit actions.

    I’ve always been super-vigilant about keeping chemicals out of my home and have long used natural cleaning products and personal care items. I’m somewhat finicky when it comes to home furnishings and opt for heirloom-quality stuff, locally and handmade goods, and select vintage items in lieu of cheap, plastic, made-in-China crap.

    I’ve also experimented with line-drying clothing on my roof, and I’d love to start capturing rainwater to feed my many houseplants, although I don’t think my super would be too keen on this idea. I’d like not to get evicted anytime in the near future, thank you very much.

    You blog about a lot of interesting green inventions. What’s the most innovative idea you’ve come across that you’d use yourself? What’s the strangest?

    After admiring it for months, I purchased the Plumen, a “designer” CFL bulb and I love it. I’m also obsessed with ANDREA, a plant-based air purifier and the Dyson Air Multiplier, although I haven’t used either of these somewhat pricey items. Although they’re aren’t gadgets per se, I love the low-waste packaging concepts behind Berry+ laundry soap and Seventh Generation’s 4X Laundry Detergent. The strangest innovations have been a line of robotic home furnishings with microbial fuel cells that are powered by the flesh of household pests. Fascinating but also pretty gross.

    What advice do you have for someone looking for ways to go green at home?

    This may seem cliché, but start small and have patience. Next winter, trying turning the thermostat down a couple of notches. And buy recycled content toilet paper — your tender behind will eventually toughen up and forgive you for taking away the cushy, virgin pulp stuff. 

    What do you like best about blogging for MNN?

    I like many things, but perhaps what I like best is being able to promote the good, green deeds of people and businesses that are local to me. There’s a lot happening in my neighborhood — green housepainters, sustainable furniture designers, organic urban farms, etc. — and I love that I don’t have to stray too far to find inspirational material.

    Read Matt’s blog and stay informed on all things green and homey.