by Jen Loui, LEED AP

Green Project  Manager

Butterfly Energy Works

A while back, say sometime in the 50’s, a whole new standard of living came into being, fueled by an enormous new showroom of newly patented appliances. It was a sign of success to have one of these new appliances, and an indication of downright prosperity to have them all. “Having it all” became the sought after norm.

Soon, you were considered “poor” if you hung your clothes out on a clothesline instead of putting them in a dryer. You were frowned on if you sat outside on your porch fanning yourself in the heat of the day instead of flipping the switch on your air conditioner. It was considered lower class to make your own clothes when you could buy them from the department store, and you were to be pitied if you actually relied on the food you grew in your garden. Little by little, we put our natural home and community oriented lifestyles to sleep in favor of the things that would undoubtedly make us happier.

And they did.

But in exchange for the ease, we lost sight of the original need, and soon we were buying newer and better things because we felt we would be out of date and unable to live happily without them.

Just for fun, here is a short list of THEN and NOW….



1.  Made many of our own clothes

2.  Used a push-reel, non-gas non-electric,

mower and a rake

3.  Had a family station wagon

4.  Supplemented market-bought food with a large garden

5.  Opened a window, used a fan

6. Had one phone

7. Hung the laundry on a clothes line to dry

8. Cut meat with a knife

9. Washed dishes in a sink

10. Cooked on a gas or electric stove

11. Listened to a radio.

12. Had a record player

13. Had one television

14. Had a dog

15. Used a pen and paper



1. Buy clothes mass-produced in other countries,

either in malls or on-line (5% of US families produce

a small percentage of their own clothing.)

2. Use a gas-fueled mower, electric mower, riding

mower, leaf blower, and/or a weed whacker.

3. Have a family SUV – (usually two)

4. Rely on mass-produced, pre-packaged foods

which travel thousands of miles before

arriving in our neighborhood “super center”.

5. Have whole home air conditioning: rarely

or never open windows.

6. Have two phone lines per home, plus

individual cell phones.

7. Have a washer/dryer.

8. Use a food processor, electric carving knife, blender.

9. Use a dishwasher, garbage disposal and trash masher.

10. Use a gas or electric stove, microwave,

bread machine, toaster oven.

11. Several AM/FM radio access points,

MP3 Players and I-PODs with music


12. Have several CD players in the home

13. Have two large screen, digital televisions

with DVD players per household.

14. A whole home security system

15. Have a desk computer and printer, and/or

a lap-top for each family member.

If we are making progress, our lives will move in a forward kind of motion. Change is to be expected. When we reverse engineer the last 50 or so years, we could notice a certain increase in comfort and in opportunities for personal relaxation. We might also notice a loss of interaction with our environment, prompting us to wonder “How did that happen?”

Whether or not this has been a healthy progression is something we might each need to look at. Whatever our conclusion, it’s just a fact that the actions we continue to take, the purchases we continue to make, will shape the future of “normal”.  Along those same lines, is it possible that we may have just come full-circle and are heading back around to where we came from?

Normal. Redefined. When it comes to normal, my vote is for the garden, the clothes line and the dog.

For more information contact Butterfly Energy Works, 314-961-8418, www.ButterflyEnergyWorks.com.