When considering solar power for the home, a family's first thoughts might not turn to a great big electric train set. But when the Ted Baumgart family of La Crescenta started to think about getting energy-efficient and environmentally friendly, a solar-powered train was their first "green" purchase.
Perhaps a more practical idea would be to buy a sun-powered refrigerator. That's what the Forbes family of Sylmar did.
Glenn Forbes, the second generation of his family to adopt a pollution-fighting lifestyle, is quite proud of his Sunfrost brand fridge, powered by photovoltaic technology. It is one more high-tech tool, he thinks, in the fight against global warming. He uses low-tech gear in the fight as well--a windmill to generate extra electricity.
Forbes and his family are so committed to environmental home outfitting that they regularly conduct free weekend tours of their Sylmar residence for school groups, families and individuals who call to make an appointment.
Meanwhile, in La Crescenta, Baumgart occasionally treats local families to a look at his major-league model train setup powered by solar energy. And while they are there, they can take a look at a panoply of other environmental home equipment, which looks like it's out of an environment-friendly version of the Sharper Image catalogue.
"Today's kids are the first generation to be raised 'green,' " said Baumgart, a civic-minded film industry designer who also creates environmental education displays for the city of Burbank.
He hasn't, by the way, cobbled together his home's ecologically correct gizmos by himself. Many of them are mail-order items from Real Goods, a Northern California firm that specializes in such things. Their various catalogues look like whiz kids' science textbooks from the next century. Except the stuff in them is already being made and sold today--it's just not in the malls yet.
* DEMONSTRATION: Kids can get a glimpse of the environmentally friendly present and future this weekend in Sylmar or next weekend in La Crescenta by visiting two demonstration homes. Call for information, respectively, (818) 361-3444 or (818) 957-1071. (Other dates, including for school group visits, are available by special arrangement.)
* READ ON: For a free catalogue of some of the environmental lifestyle gizmos in use at these sites, call Real Goods at (800) 762-7325.