For 24 years, environmentalist Lisa Craig Gautier and her husband Patrice Oliver Gautier, co-founders of the non-profit organization Matter of Trust, have focused on sustainable living. Nearly three years ago, the couple expanded their reach by opening the doors to their ‘Eco Home’, where residents across The City can discover their own eco-conscious lifestyle.
Tucked away in the Cole Valley neighborhood, Matter of Trust’s Eco Home offers visitors eco-friendly inspiration for their homes and workspaces. The home also features a permaculture garden, an agricultural area focused on growing crops and other plants that thrive in the Bay Area ecosystem. Demonstrations are conducted primarily through six seasonal open houses, as well as tours and field trips of the facility.
Gautier, President of Matter of Trust, said the organization is built on the question, “How can we turn waste into resources?”
While Matter of Trust’s Eco Home may not have all the answers, the facility offers a promising start.
Visitors are drawn to a wishing well planter placed on the sidewalk in front of the house during opening hours. Wide open wooden doors offer a glimpse into the Matter of Trust exhibition range.
The garage footprint is designed to showcase five areas of a home: a kitchen, living room, bedroom, bathroom, and study. Walking through each area, visitors can learn about and interact with eco-friendly alternatives to their usual way of life.
Solutions range from switching to energy-efficient appliances in the kitchen and energy-saving light bulbs in the bedroom, to furnishing one’s bedroom or office with recycled or recycled furniture.
After a stroll through the garage, visitors are led into the backyard, which features an edible garden, a tiny house adorned with solar panels, and a mist catcher where large pieces of netting cause mist droplets to flow down into a gutter below as a chicken coop.
The garden, designed to thrive with San Francisco’s ecosystem, allows tenants of the apartment complex to grow their own foods, such as pumpkins and leeks. A laundry-to-garden irrigation system uses gray water from the complex’s washing machine to water the garden’s plants.
The chicken coop serves eggs for tenants to use for breakfast and other meals. When roaming around in the garden, the chickens act as nature’s weed eaters and take care of the grass.
Several permits were required for this project, such as: B. Changing the use of garages from side parking lots to a public community building facility. Housing for solar panels, lighting and eco-demonstration exhibits were also created. Since its inception, the Matter of Trust Eco Home has maintained a working relationship with the San Francisco Department of the Environment.
“People will just randomly walk by and be like, ‘Oh, what is that?’ and they would just try it and end up taking a lot out of it,” said Lonnie Allen, a Matter of Trust employee who first became involved with the program by speaking at the Eco-Industrial Hub, a separate Matter of Trust. Furnishings in the south of the market district worked on hair mats.
First introduced by the Gautiers in 2000, the hair mats are an extension of the Matter of Trust’s Clean Wave program, which collects hair, fur and fleece debris to make petroleum spill cleanup a boom.
The Eco-Hub also features an exhibition hall that houses a hair salon, pop-up pet groomers, a rooftop garden, and more.
The organization also runs an online platform called “Hum Sum” where users can learn more about sustainability by sharing solutions, exchanging services and ideas, and access to a research library, among other things.
Back at the Eco Home, Gautier says renters can “come through and see all the different ideas” at work in the garage and backyard. She noted that all tenants also practice their own sustainability efforts, such as composting in the garden.
In addition, the tenants are happy about curious minds.
“We tell them up front before they move in that there could be field trips and all that stuff, and everyone who moves in is totally fine with that,” Gautier said.
Allen, who now coordinates field trips and visits to the Eco Home, says the interactions while visiting the Eco Home spark conversations among renters and others about alternatives such as buying a tiny home, installing induction cookers, or simply raising awareness of personal waste.
“You see changes in the community or people just learning from what we’re doing,” Allen said. “I think it’s pretty cool just to be there.”