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Carter Oosterhouse exclusive interview

Carter Oosterhouse in action at the Scott Naturals Empire State Building.
Carter Oosterhouse in action at the Scott Naturals Empire State Building.
John Minchillo

The out of this world talented and funny home and design expert/eco-carpenter Carter Oosterhouse has teamed up with Scott Naturals to kick off the national release of their super eco-friendly new Tube Free bath tissue. The revolutionary new product eliminates the cardboard tube (Scott Naturals thinks of everything!) and will help cut down on the 17 billion tubes that are trashed every year, which is enough to fill the Empire State Building. Twice. To celebrate the nation wide launch and boost environmental awareness, Scott Naturals and Oosterhouse unveiled a 30 foot replica of the Empire State Building, constructed entirely of cardboard tubes, in Manhattan's Flatiron Plaza. Rock on, Tube Free!

Oosterhouse, who's currently hosting the explosive new show Rowhouse Showdown, shared tips to give your bathroom a green makeover, how he learned the tools of the carpentry trade at 12, and the latest on his delicious new Michigan winery. Who's thirsty?

MM: What about the Scott Naturals Tube Free campaign spoke to you?
Carter Oosterhouse: As I moved through my career as a builder I was lucky enough to be exposed to so many great eco-friendly products and took a real interest in green construction. When Scott Naturals came to me with their new tube-free toilet paper I thought it was great and look forward to spreading the word about easy steps that people can take to help make the world a little greener.

I encourage everyone to take an online pledge to “toss the tube” at www.ScottBrand.com and share their commitment on social media using the hashtag #TosstheTube. That small action can have big environmental impact and in return you’ll receive a coupon that increases in value as the number of pledges increase.

MM: Did you help construct the 30 foot Scott Naturals Empire State Building?
CO: I didn’t but next time I’d love to have a hand in it!

MM: Makeover time! What are some ways to give a bathroom a green makeover?
CO: One of the most trafficked rooms in the home is the bathroom and by following a few simple tips you can greatly reduce waste. Many people don’t think about the bathroom as a place to go green but it is a key area because of the products, water and energy used there.
• Eco-friendly products. Toss the tube! Scott Naturals Tube-Free bath tissue has removed the cardboard core – and the product has major potential to reduce a portion of the 17 billion toilet paper tubes thrown away each year, enough to fill the Empire State Building twice!
• Save water with every flush. Put a plastic bottle in your toilet tank by soaking off the label, filling the bottle with water, replacing the cap and placing it in the tank. A small plastic juice bottle or laundry soap bottle works well. In five minutes, you will begin to save one or two gallons per flush! By placing the bottle in the toilet tank, less water is needed to fill the tank and therefore less water is being flushed. Be careful that the bottle doesn't interfere with the flushing mechanism.
• Reduce waste. Use bathroom necessities with less packaging like bar soaps, which are friendlier for the environment and your budget. The carbon footprint of liquid soaps is about 25% larger than that of bar soaps. They also require more energy for packaging production and disposal.
• Save energy. Compact fluorescent bulbs use about 75% less energy than traditional incandescent bulbs and last 10-25 times longer. Energy-efficient bulbs can also save you money on electricity costs.
• Install a tankless water heater. With a tankless water heater, you only heat the water that you use, which saves energy and money. Gas water heaters give off an average of 58% fewer carbon emissions than electric ones.

MM: Are there any new eco-friendly products or tips you like or have incorporated in your home?
CO: As you may have guessed I have made the simple swap to use Scott Naturals Tube-Free toilet paper to eliminate the wasteful tube. I also use a variety of green materials, whether its sustainable counter tops, VOC-free paint and organic cleaning products.

MM: Is it true you became a carpenter at age 12? What were you building? Incredible.
CO: In the beginning I wasn’t making any miter cuts or using too many saws. I referred to myself as "Hey Carter” because everyone was always asking me to grab something for them or pick up after them. But I was on the job site and that set the tone for where I am today. Over the years I’ve worked in residential, commercial, and even finish carpentry.

MM: Congrats on Bonobo winery! How's the vineyard coming and what's your favorite wine?
CO: We are set to open up in October and we are super excited. Michigan wines are getting recognized around the globe and people are starting to notice that Traverse City is the “Napa of the Midwest.” We’ve been growing grapes for 5 years now and we feel that we make a wonderful Chardonnay and an even better Riesling.

MM: Your charity, Carter's Playgrounds, has built dozens and dozens of playgrounds across the U.S. Amazingly cool. Where's the next one heading and how do you choose a site?
CO: Each playground is different than the last, but the kids always have the same reaction - pure joy. We feel that we are able to bring a lot of fun for kids, communities and families all over the country. Most of the time people write in to Carters-kids.org for a grant and we try to find a way to make it happen. Our next city is Raleigh and Sacramento after that.

MM: You basically bring the awesome Oosterhouse touch to anything you work on - whether it’s a TV show, building a playground or opening a winery with your brother. What makes you so crazy successful?
CO: Success isn’t measured by things you have or shows you’re on. It’s how you live your life. For me, I’m living the life I’ve always wanted.