Dec 31, 2009



A selection of products included in the EcoBasket. Photo: enviRENEW/The Salvation Army

LocationNew Orleans, Louisiana, USA
End User15 neighborhoods, 50 households in each
Implementing AgencySalvation Army
Design TeamEthan Frizzell, Lindsay Jonker, Liana McGowan, Alexandra Miller
FunderSalvation Army
Number of unit250
Cost per unit$1000 USD
Program Cost$250 000 USD

At first people were resistant to the “eco stuff” the Salvation Army enviRENEW program started giving to select New Orleans residents in 2009, says Lindsay Jonker, enviRENEW director. The EcoBaskets full of environmentally friendly household items were meant to help Hurricane Katrina survivors by supplying materials for sustainable, low-cost home modifications and renovations they could do themselves.

Many volunteers aided in the reconstruction of Gulf Coast homes, though some lacked the skills to execute quality work. “We recognized a need to go back into renovated homes with a different set of eyes,” explains Captain Ethan Frizzell, the Salvation Army’s area commander for New Orleans. “There is this mentality that better than before is good enough. They think, ‘You should be thanking us because he has a tub,’ except for the fact that his electric bill is an extra $100 per month because it wasn’t sealed properly [allowing heat to escape],” Frizzell says, adding that the goal is to not just change the house, but the culture of the homeowners.

The EcoBasket, a bundle of sustainable products customized to the needs, age and physical abilities of each recipient, is a do-it-yourself way to make a big impact on energy costs and livability. There are three basket configurations to meet specific needs. At a minimum, a basket may include low-flow fixtures, compact fluorescent lights, a solar-powered security light, weather stripping and sealant, and organic cleaning products. Some include cellulose attic insulation and instructions for installing it, and others supply customized solutions by the Louisiana Green Corps, a local green jobs training program for New Orleans youth. The young participants have been helping elderly and handicapped recipients install their items.

Beryl Ragas, recipient of an EcoBasket. Photo: enviRenew/The Salvation Army

Five neighborhoods were selected to receive the baskets from 70 project proposals by New Orleans community groups. One of the recipients was Beryl Ragas. “I didn’t know why my house was so cold,” Ragas says. “They ended up insulating the doors, in the attic and underneath the sink. It really helped out a lot and my bills dropped by about half.” She shared this realization with neighbors and converted some who were initially skeptical.

To date the program has reached 125 New Orleans residents who often hear about it through word of mouth.


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