We  Are A Button Up Hero Community!

By. Zachariah Ralph

In many ways weatherization is like infrastructure, very important but not appealing because maintaining something old is not as attractive as building something new.  It may not be the “sexiest” option, but creating more efficient homes is extremely important. In Vermont we have a tradition, we green up in the spring and button-up in the Fall. Button Up Vermont reminds us that tightening up our homes for the winter is just the thing to do.

Paige Heverly (Photo by Rick Russell)

Many homes in Vermont are over 100 years old making us the second oldest housing stock in the country. Because of their age, many homes are inefficient, allowing for heat and air conditioning to literally go right out the window. Creating a more efficient home, or weatherizing your home, will save you money. Many weatherized homes will see at least 25% in energy savings.

Weatherizing an inefficient home will not only save you money, it also reduces your carbon footprint. Vermont’s Comprehensive Energy Plan wants to see us reduce our carbon emissions; one of its goals is to have 80,000 homes reduce their energy usage by 25% by the year 2020. Unfortunately, we as a state are not weatherizing fast enough and we are far from meeting our current goals, which is another reason why we all need to think of ways of tightening up our homes.

Not everyone can afford to pay out of pocket for weatherization upgrades, but don’t let that stop you there are many great programs around Vermont to help incentivize weatherization Projects.

Home Performance with Energy Star

The Home Performance with Energy Star program, administered by Efficiency Vermont, “is an incentive-based program to improve insulation and air sealing, plus heating and ventilation systems, to ensure safety and health.” Participants can receive up to $2,000 towards their home air-sealing project. The program starts and ends with an energy audit and blower door test. Visit the Efficiency Vermont website to choose a professional energy contractor to come and conduct an audit of your home to determine what you can do to start saving money on your energy bills.


The Capstone Community Groups offer the Weatherization Assistance Program to income qualified renters and homeowners.  If you qualify they will come and complete upgrades on your home at no cost to you. Contact them immediately if you think you qualify as the waiting list can be long.

COVER Home Repair

COVER Home Repair helps make homes more airtight, saving home owners money on heating.  They are willing to work in some way with all home owners and renters (with permission from landlords). COVER uses a sliding scale based on income to determine product costs. COVER works with qualifying home owners and volunteers to supply the labor at no charge.”
Mobile Home Replacement Program
Efficiency Vermont’s Mobile Home Replacement program works to incentivize mobile home owners to replace their old inefficient homes with more efficient and sustainable options like Vermod Homes or Irene Cottages. Efficiency Vermont will pay up to $10,000 have your old mobile home replaced, and also to lay a foundation for the new mobile home. They will also work with homeowners to find financing options for a new mobile home.

Weatherization is not only about adding insulation.  For many homes, simple free or inexpensive conservation and air sealing measures are the most cost effective means of increasing comfort, reducing heat loss and saving money. Here are some quick tips;

  • Put plastic film over windows ·Replace worn weather-stripping ·Plug holes in exterior walls ·Insulate outlets ·Tune up your furnace ·Get a programmable thermostat

This year Sustainable Woodstock will be hosting a number of Button Up events over the next couple weeks as part of Efficiency Vermont’s Button Up Hero weatherization program. As a Button Up Hero community residents can receive a free walk-through assessment, scope of work, and cost estimate from a qualified contractor vetted by Efficiency Vermont.  Residents sign-up by completing a brief survey before December 15. Walk-throughs will be completed between November and March, and Efficiency Vermont will offer prizes for residents who commit to a home energy project by Earth Day in April 2019. In addition, we will will host engagement activities and hand out free energy efficiency kits!

We hope you can join us to learn ways to save money on your energy bills, reduce your carbon footprint and to live more comfortably! Join us for the upcoming event.

Join us for discussion, workshops, FREE LED lightbulbs. These workshops are for Vermont homeowners to help them better understand the steps they can take to make their homes more energy efficient and comfortable in very clear language and simple steps. We encourage Vermonters across the state to take action by “Buttoning Up” their homes.

Contact Sustainable Woodstock for more information about these events. Zach@sustainablewoodstock.org, or 802-457-2911

Just do One thing: Attend a Button Up event!

A Harvest of Wild Nuts

by Michael J. Caduto


Gathering wild nuts is a longstanding tradition among Western Abenaki. Historically, when garden soil became depleted and villages were moved to new ground, piles of acorns, butternuts, chestnuts, black walnuts, hazelnuts and others were placed around the new home site. Squirrels gathered and buried the nuts in secret caches. Stores that were forgotten grew orchard-like groves of “wild” nuts around the lodges.


The large number of squirrels foraging this year’s abundant nut crop show that this is an excellent year to gather. Eating wild nuts will also decrease your carbon nutprint*, especially considering the energy required to grow cultivated varieties, the fuel needed for transport, and the heavy use of packaging.


Butternut is used in everything from cakes to fudge. The Latin genus, Juglans, means “Jove” or “Jupiter” acorns, after the Roman god of the sky. Colonists boiled husks to render a yellow-orange dye for wool. Butternut grows in open fields, hedgerows, and young woodlots and bears oblong fruits. Although a canker (fungal disease) has stricken many of our butternut trees, some stalwart survivors still bear nuts, with sticky green husks covered with short brown hairs. Inside each husk is a stubborn shell that requires a nutcracker, hammer or rock. I once met a man who folded the nuts into a sheet and ran them over with his car. Nutmeats can be boiled to extract the oil. Butternut meal also makes a rich-tasting flour.


Squirrels, birds and deer devour beechnuts almost as soon as they ripen, or stash them in stonewalls, holes or hollow logs in anticipation of winter. Beech comes the Anglo-Saxon boc, meaning “word” or “letter,” and from which “book” is derived. Prior to papyrus, beech bark was used as a writing tablet. A stylus pushed over the bark tracked along the flow of grain, so circlular shapes had to be formed as a graduated series of corners. Thus, Gothic writing evolved as letters composed of angles, rather than curves.


American beech bears nuts annually, setting a heavy crop every third year. Two to three, 3/4-inch, triangular nuts nestle inside each bristle-covered husk. Nuts can be roasted and eaten out of hand, pressed to obtain the oil or dried and ground into flour.


Hickory nuts yield more meat than beechnuts. The sweetest nuts come from shagbark hickory—named after its peeling plates of bark. Each tough, four-parted husk encloses a thick shell around a tasty nut that can be eaten out of hand or substituted for walnuts when cooking.


Oak trees commonly grow alongside hickories. But all acorns are not created equal. Those from the white oak group—including white oak, swamp oak and chestnut oak—have white meats that are best for eating. The leaves of white oaks have rounded lobes and tips. Trees in the black oak group—such as black oak, red oak and scarlet oak—have sharp-tipped leaves and acorns that contain too much bitter tannin to eat without excessive boiling.


Gather white oak acorns soon after they drop, remove the shells and boil until the water turns brown. Drain and repeat, then put the nuts in a well-ventilated place to dry. Nuts can then be roasted and eaten plain or ground into a flour-like meal, molded and cooked into bread. Acorn bread is still baked in southern Italy and many cultures use acorns for high-protein fodder.


Filberts (hazelnuts) are also popular in Europe. Swedish folklore says anyone holding a hazelnut rod becomes invisible. Colonial women coming of age named each hazelnut after a desirable young male acquaintance. When these nuts were thrown onto the glowing coals of the hearth, the name associated with the hazelnut that flared brightest was that woman’s “fate” in marriage. We still say someone “holds a flame” for the object of their affection.


Wild American Hazelnut grows to 8 feet in hedgerows and moist woodlands. Beaked Hazelnut, which ranges farther north, sports a protuberance at the top of the husk. Ripe nuts have thin shells and sweet meats that can be eaten raw, roasted, or ground into flour. For a rich cookie treat, find a recipe for “pecan sandies” and substitute ground hazelnuts in place of pecan meal.


Add wild nuts to your repertoire and you’ll enjoy a rich gustatory tradition of living close to the land.


*carbon nutprint: A small portion of a nut-eater’s carbon footprint.


Article adapted with permission from “Through a Naturalist’s Eyes: Exploring the Nature of New England” by Michael J. Caduto (University Press of New England, 2016)


What to do with your household hazardous waste?

by Amanda Kuhnert

Every week we place our trash and recyclables on the curb for pickup or deposit them at the town transfer station. But what about our household hazardous waste? According to the EPA, the average home can accumulate up to 100 pounds of hazardous waste. Improper disposal of these materials poses serious health, safety, and environmental risks.

What does this include? Medicines, chemicals, paints, lightbulbs, spray cans, fertilizer and pesticide containers, batteries, automotive products, and shoe polish. When these items end up in a landfill, they eventually seep into the environment, contaminating our air, water, and food.

There are steps you can take to reduce toxic chemicals in your home and limit the negative impact of hazardous waste on the natural world. Here are some ideas:

  1. Limit your purchase of products with hazardous ingredients. For example, opt for a plunger or plumber’s snake instead of drain cleaner. Use natural cleaning products like diluted vinegar and lemon juice for glass, countertops, and furniture. This site has some great recipes for homemade household cleaners: www.naturallivingideas.com/homemade-cleaning-products.
  2. Use eco-friendly fertilizers and biopesticides, derived from animals, plants, bacteria, fungi, and minerals. You can pull weeds by hand, use food-grade diatomaceous earth to get rid of insects, and ward off bugs with garden fabric and row covers.
  3. Choose water-based paints and polishes that contain no or low volatile organic compounds (VOCs). These products are better for your health and the environment, and they’re easier to recycle. Info: earth911.com/recycling-guide/how-to-recycle-paint.
  4. Wash your clothes with a “green” laundry detergent. One of the major threats to marine life is nonylphenol ethoxylates (NPEs), byproducts of a common ingredient found in many laundry detergents. Thankfully, there are a number of NPE-free detergents available.
  5. Dispose of auto products safely. Never pour motor oil, antifreeze, or gasoline down the drain, where it can contaminate fish and water supplies. To learn how to properly dispose of these materials: www.earth911.com/recycling-guide/how-to-recycle-automotive-fluids.
  6. Don’t put batteries in the garbage. Mercury and cadmium in batteries can be dangerous to humans and the environment, and car batteries placed in landfills release lead and sulfuric acid into the earth and water. Join the Vermont Battery Collection Challenge: call2recycle.org/vermont.
  7. Recycle energy-efficient lightbulbs, such as CFLs and other fluorescent bulbs, which can release mercury when they end up in a landfill or incinerator. There are other materials in the bulbs that can be re-used. To find out where to recycle bulbs: earth911.com/recycling-guide/how-to-recycle-cfls.
  8. Bring your toxic products to a household hazardous waste collection and drop-off day in your community. See this page for information about an upcoming event in Woodstock.

Another household product you’re wondering about? The website Earth911 (www.earth911.com) is an extensive recycling database listing about 350 products and how to dispose of them properly. You simply type in the material you’d like to recycle and your zip code to find recycling locations near you. You can also call 1-800-CLEANUP for the same information.


HED: Household Hazardous Waste Collection Day
The Greater Upper Valley Solid Waste Management District (GUV) will hold its last household hazardous waste collection of the year on Saturday, Sept. 15 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Woodstock Town Highway Garage, 2576 West Woodstock Road. The event is open to all residents of the GUV District and the Town of Hartford. Businesses of any size are required to call in advance and pre-register. For more info call 674-4474 or email hgillett@swcrpc.org.

DO JUST ONE THING: Read product labels for disposal directions or visit Earth911 to find out how and where to recycle hazardous materials.

Sources: epa.gov, earth911.com