Blogs > Pat Gaylor > April 2010

The Crying Indian

This April 22nd is the 40th anniversary of the first Earth Day, created in 1970. As a young girl back then, I was too involved with being an adolescent to worry about the ecology. But what I do remember very clearly is the “The Crying Indian”. This was a 60 second public service announcement created by a government campaign called “Keep America Beautiful”. It featured a video of an Indian in a canoe navigating through polluted waters. If you haven’t heard of it, or want to see it again after 40 yrs, you can Google “The Crying Indian” or view it on YouTube.
If anyone asks me why I got involved with the ‘green’ movement, or why it’s so important to me, I honestly think I can trace it back to this video. Even though I was more interested in what I was going to wear than what was happening in America, I was aware that there was a looming problem with pollution. And this little video really made me open my eyes to the fact that we had to take action or suffer the consequences. OK, so recently I found out that the ‘Indian’ featured in the role was really an Italian actor from Brooklyn, but that’s not the point. The point is that I got it, Indian or not.
Forty years ago was also the first time I ever heard the words ‘ozone layer’. Growing up in the New York metropolitan area, I was witness almost every day to the pollution hanging over the New York skyline. And that the number of cars on the road across the country was staggering. The video also features factory smoke stacks spewing spirals of pollution into the air. So this little commercial cemented my feelings and made me aware that it was time to take action. But the campaign never really generated enough interest to create change. Yes, it created awareness, and we still ‘celebrate’ Earth Day every April 22nd. But what are we celebrating? Are there really enough people in this country that are willing to create the change necessary to really have something to celebrate?
We are still in the infant stages of what can happen worldwide within the ‘green’ movement. It’s gone from a grassroots level to federal policy in many instances. And that’s real progress. But to me it’s the day to day changes that we can make to create a cleaner, greener world. I’m still amazed by the number of intelligent people out there that aren’t aware that some of their habits are creating a problem. Like our use (or over use) of plastic bags and bottles. Or that we still insist on living in a disposable society, where out of sight is out of mind. And that the materials we bring into our homes have the potential to harm us.
Just to confuse the issue, there are claims by manufacturers that their product is a ‘green’ one, in order to stand out from the rest. Navigating through the mine field of green products and claims and getting real answers about what we are buying is confounding. Currently there’s no regulation for what constitutes a ‘green’ product. If you ask 10 people what a green product is, you’ll get 10 answers, and nine of them are probably wrong.
If you are reading this, I’m sure you are pretty savvy about sustainability. And that it’s on many different levels, from building products to cleaning products. It’s our job as leaders in the green movement to create the change. As Gandhi once said: “Be the change you want to see in the world”.
Happy Earth Day, my fellow greenies!

Posted: 4/18/2010 5:46:08 PM by | with 0 comments

THE END OF ‘SUPERSIZED’ AMERICA - When bigger ain’t necessarily better

When Sarah Susanka’s book “The Not So Big House” came out ten years ago, it was a very radical shift in thinking. In the beginning, it had a somewhat small cult following of a certain demographic called “The Cultural Creatives”, which I guess is a jazzy term for ‘artistic’ type people. Soon afterward, the book took off and was one of the number one best sellers of all time on But still, most of the country wasn’t on board when it came to building smaller, more efficient homes.

And now, ten years later, the collective ‘we’ in America are finally getting it. It’s taken a disastrous downturn in the economy in order for us to see that bigger ain’t necessarily better.

But even if you’ve never even heard of Sarah Susanka, I think everyone agrees that the huge houses of 10-15 yrs ago are ancient history. How many of you out there have either built or worked on a house over 5,000 square feet? I confess- I have. Of course, I’m not proud of it, but money is money, and after all, we all have to make a living. But the carbon output of a home that size is staggering, and quite frankly, I’m glad the McMansion era is over. But here’s the conundrum: how can I make money in a weak market, when the excess spending of yesteryear is dead and buried?

What works for me is sustainable design. I didn’t start doing green interiors just because I was looking for a different type niche to fill in a very competitive market. Green design has been close to my heart for many years, and it’s my passion. But I managed to make it work for me in a downturn market. Setting myself apart from the competition by focusing on green design is keeping my business not only afloat, but extremely viable. How can you make it work for you? If you are building, designing or renovating homes, one of the key places to consider is what’s done in the bathrooms. Let’s look at a bathroom from the mid 90’s and compare it to a bathroom of today.


Here’s what doesn’t work: the large bathtub, which can weigh over 500 lbs when filled, is dangerous on many levels. If it’s a whirlpool, the interior jets can collect mold and mildew, which gets re-circulated every time it’s in use. The newer generation of tubs has air jets that force the water through small holes, eliminating any re-circulating issues. To promote wellness, you can also add oils and aromatherapy, something you couldn’t do with a pump type whirlpool. The idea of having to walk up stone steps and climb into a deep tub is nothing short of dangerous, and having windows so close to the tub gives me the willies. What happens if you slip and hit the glass, never mind the stone steps! Also, a smaller soaker tub that’s lower to the floor and doesn’t hold as much water can still give you the ‘spa’ feeling without wasting precious water. Using sink faucets and showerheads that carry the WaterSense label means that the fixture doesn’t feel like it’s a lower flow, even though it is. HET toilets, or high efficiency toilets, use 1.28 gallons of water per flush, instead of the 1.6 gallons used in most toilets. Or, a dual flush model, that has two flushes, is even a better bet.


A smaller, more accessible soaking tub, with high quality fixtures and cabinetry. Water efficient faucets and shower heads, and a high efficiency toilet. Smaller can be beautiful, greener, and very profitable!

Posted: 4/5/2010 11:41:03 AM by Pat Gaylor | with 0 comments

About Me

Patricia Gaylor has practiced as an interior designer in the Northeast for more than two decades. Here, an abundance of older homes in need of complete renovations requiring the removal of everything, from dated appliances to cabinetry, prompted Pat to ponder the question: “What happens to all this stuff after it’s ripped out?” Pat’s passion for green design continues to be fueled by this question.



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