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In the News: Cabins Go Green

In a recent New York Times article, "A Cabin Is Not a Shack," writer Louise Tutelian reports on the emerging trend to green second homes, or "cabins" as these houses are identified. One such cabin featured in the article, which is pictured below, was built in Montana using only local and reclaimed materials.

The article maintains that currently, cabin culture is defined by the following:

Ditch the deer heads and moose antlers. Put away the caps with flaps. There is nothing musty, creaky, saggy or squeaky about the new cabin culture. Across the country, cabins are being reimagined in sustainable yet stylish ways. Some combine industrial materials like mesh, oxidized steel and concrete with traditional wood. Others employ reclaimed or recycled material to stay eco-friendly and keep costs down. “Turnkey” models arrive fully constructed, ready to be dropped onto a site. Still other cabins are off the grid, but with the comforts of home. And despite the advances in design, cabin owners want the same thing they always did: a place that provides an escape into the natural world.

To tell me what you think about this trend, and read why I think it's nothing revolutionary,


Granted, the use of solar panels and the expense of $40,000 or more in green technology is a new trend. While economic worries will definitely put the kibosh on this type of spending, the use of recycled, local, and "green" materials is as old as cabin culture itself. Since most cabins are built in very rural areas, using local materials (such as stones and trees in the immediate area) is not only economical and eco, it was often the only option, historically. I also know of a family friend whose grandparents repaired the roof on their cabin with — get this — coffee tins! You see, this couple grew up with the Depression-era mentality of "waste not, want not," and thus reused and recycled everything they bought. When they couldn't find a use for the empty coffee tins, they carefully cut them, flattened them, and then used them to replace roofing. While the greening of cabins as reported in the New York Times may be dressed up as a revolutionary new trend, it's really a new chapter in the same, sensible old book.

Does your family have a cabin or cottage? Is anything about it green, whether by design or happenstance?

Lois Shelden for the New York Times

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