By Eileen Weber
Trudy Dujardin was green long before the color described more than just your front lawn. She built her design business in 1982. By 1987, she saw the need for an environmentally friendly approach. She now refers to her designs as “eco-elegance.”
Dujardin, President and Founder of Dujardin Design Associates with offices in Westport and Nantucket, has been quoted as saying that a healthy home is the ultimate luxury. But when asked why she feels that way, she was almost a little stumped. She has been living and breathing the green industry for so long that, for her, it would be one “big goof” to have a home that wasn’t healthy.
“Why would you want anything toxic near your family?” she countered. “A home can be beautiful and it can be healthy. How luxurious is it if you’re smelling off-gasses?”
These days, it is much easier for her to find the materials she needs to design a home space. But early on, it was much more of a challenge. Builders and architects looked at her like she had two heads when she asked about low-VOC paints. Now, they come to her looking for advice. Even her clients are growing more and more savvy about the ways a house can be green and still functionally graceful.
Aside from her flourishing design business, the books she has published on the subject, and the numerous periodicals singing praises of her work, she is now ready to take the blogging plunge. On Wednesday, December 15th, she will launch HolisticHouse.com, her homage to all the sustainable topics worth blogging about.
“People just need information. Who has time to do all that research?” said Dujardin. “We have the time to do the cherry picking.”
One topic she concentrates on is non-toxic products. She said it would be great if every product was non-toxic, but many of them are not. She lamented about the fact that even today fabrics and home furnishings are still made with harmful dyes and chemicals like formaldehyde.
“And so many people are allergic to fragrances, too,” said Price Connors, Senior Design Associate at Dujardin’s company. Both Dujardin and Connors said that chemical sensitivity is a big problem. In fact, they said most people who think they have allergies might in fact have a chemical sensitivity.
Dujardin, who recently obtained her LEED certification, discussed some of the simple things we can do around the house that can make it much cleaner and healthier. Just taking a look under your kitchen sink can reveal some pretty scary things. “If you can’t pronounce it, don’t spray it around your house.” she said. “One can of well-known insect repellent can ruin a house for twenty five years!”
The chemicals we use in daily life, on our bodies, and on our lawns get tracked around. And like a nosy neighbor, they never go away. Connors gave the example of a thermometer factory in Vermont where he grew up in. All the houses in the neighborhood eventually had to be torn down because of the high levels of mercury. Chemicals don’t disappear just because you’re not paying attention to them.
That’s why Dujardin said she takes a “holistic” approach to her designs. She’s not just looking at the inside; she is looking at the outside, too. What is the site’s run-off and filtration system? Are there pesticides used in the lawn care? “Everything is done mindfully and conscientiously,” she said. “We are hooking into the mind, body, and spirit. It is holistic.”
To find out ways you can keep your home holistic and sustainable, visit her blog at www.holistichouse.com.