Going Greener Your December 6 issue was very interesting but might give readers the impression that green homes are a boutique industry or available only to those with a lot of money. In fact, Massachusetts has a community where energy-efficient new homes are not only affordable, they’re also the law. Newton is the first city in the state to adopt the local option “stretch” building energy code, whereby new homes will be 30 to 35 percent more efficient than those meeting the statewide base-level building energy code. Newton’s leaders feel the decision demonstrates the city’s commitment to reducing emissions from electricity and home-energy use and that it makes economic sense. Other communities are considering the stretch code, emphasizing that being green doesn’t necessarily take a lot of green.
Director of public policy, Northeast Energy Efficiency Partnerships, Lexington
I turned to “Toss in Style” (Designing, December 6) with high hopes of finding a better system than the one I have, but the story left me, a recycling professional, scratching my head. The hatch system is cool but would require major carpentry. And I found perplexing the idea that a shelf be used for stacking newspapers. Of all our waste, paper is the biggest stream, at about 35 percent. But paper recycling isn’t just for newspapers anymore. If you tried to use a shelf for recyclable paper and cardboard, you’d likely end up tossing your unwanted mail, spaghetti boxes, and receipts in the (gasp) trash. Stick to paper bags, and go to massrecyclespaper.org to learn how much of your paper should be recycled.
Chairman, Mass Recycles Paper, Westwood
In “Changes That Pay” (December 6), it’s a shame that geothermal (or ground source) heat pumps weren’t mentioned. These systems, 300 to 500 percent efficient, lower
the homeowners’ utility bills and leave no direct carbon footprint.
Pacific Northwest manager, WaterFurnace, Seattle
Plausible Denials I was disappointed in Robin Abrahams’s advice to K.K., who was trying to avoid going for coffee with male gym mates who invite her (Miss Conduct, December 6). The answer is that she is married. All she has to do is point to her ring and smile while saying, “No thanks.”
John Hagan / Boston
Regarding the woman whose aunt keeps asking if her daughter is going to be included in the wedding party (Miss Conduct, December 6): The aunt shouldn’t even assume her daughter will be invited to the wedding. Receptions are expensive, and it is not always feasible to invite the young ones.
Gayle Edson / Wakefield
Footing the Bridge Charles P. Pierce’s column on Bob Kraft’s pedestrian bridge (Pierced, December 6) was excellent. When I first read of the bridge deal in the Globe, I was so incensed that I fired off e-mails to the governor and key legislators, figuring it would make no difference but at least I’d feel better. Keep up the good work, Pierce!
Richard E. Caldarone / Danvers
Just Say No Reading “The Gifted Child” (Parenting Traps, December 6) reminds me why I’m so happy to be newly retired from my position as an elementary school counselor. Dealing daily with parents who, like Hayley Kaufman, are unacquainted with the strategic use of “no” in response to their children’s desires left me running for the exit sign. Kaufman doesn’t like the clutter from abandoned toys or toys being tossed aside in favor of the next new shiny one? Teach the kids to put the toys away. Limit how many they get. And self-esteem? Knock off focusing on them so much! Too many little narcissists out there already. Self-esteem does not come from being told how special you are. Nothing does quite so much for children as finding out how much they can do for themselves.
Linda M. Clark / Arlington
In Their Defense Great comments from Patrick Maguire (First Person, December 6). Years ago, when I worked on a carpentry crew in Cambridgeport, we’d lunch sometimes at Bread & Circus. After seeing the “help” treated rudely countless times, we decided to do something about it. Workers don’t defend themselves for fear of losing their jobs, but if I’m watching it, it’s my job to stand up for them. Surprisingly, once you call people on it, it’s like you’re one of Scrooge’s ghosts showing them a mirror. More bystanders need to stand up for their fellow men/women.
Mike Piehl / Somerville
Gifts Differing I truly enjoy the Coupling column, but as a Jewish man married to a Catholic woman, I was more than a bit put off by Mindy Pollack-Fusi’s take on the “December Dilemma” (December 6). By “nixing” both a mezuza and a wreath, the couple fail to honor their differences, and instead bury them. I’m pleased my wife attends Mass. We’re affiliated with a Jewish congregation in town, and she attends the occasional service with me, relating to Judaism as a precursor to her own faith. It’s nice Pollack-Fusi’s family lights the menorah and decorates for Christmas. But to ignore the core differences of two faiths is to miss a wonderful opportunity to build a true family experience together.
Jeffrey Siegel / Westfield