If you want to have a positive impact on the environment, but are in need of a different home, your first step was likely to either purchase a fixer-upper or to simply renovate the home you already have. Because an existing structure already has many of the materials in place, you will naturally save the environment by remodeling versus building new.
According to Natural Life Magazine, buildings make up about 40 percent of the energy and material used in the world. Because of this, there are many other choices you can make while in the middle of a renovation project that will help you have a positive impact on the environment.
One way you can positively impact the environment is by using recycled products while renovating. If you are replacing heating and cooling systems, this might mean adding geothermal heating, solar panels or green roofs.
If you are looking to purchase recycled or green products to place in your home, look for labels that state they are either Energy Star compliant or that they are specifically certified as being made from recycled materials.
A big part of most renovation projects is choosing new designs and paint colors. However, what do you do with the leftover paint and empty paint cans? It’s important that you not wash these items into your waste disposal where it might leak into local streams or pollute ponds.
In fact, old paint is considered hazardous waste and should be very carefully disposed of. To properly dispose of paint with your trash, you must first turn it into solid waste. You can leave it open in the air to harden or mix in agents such as cat litter to speed up the drying process. You should notify your trash pickup service that you are disposing of solid waste paint.
The Environmental Protection Agency took on a project to reduce waste in construction and demolition. They found that in 1996, the United States alone created about 136 million tons of debris related to building and remodeling. While that number dropped during the real estate slowdown, it is starting rise again.
You can help combat this trend by choosing a contractor who has the same green lifestyle philosophy that you do. The two of you can then work together to reuse any salvage materials to create other items. For example, if you have leftover pieces of lumber, can that be used to make raised bed gardens in your backyard?
Another idea is to talk to other homeowners who are either building new or renovating and utilize their leftover items they would normally throw out. For example, if a house down the street replaces an old claw-foot bathtub with a more modern, tiled shower, you can have the bathtub reglazed and it will look almost new.
Not only will you keep that claw-foot tub from further adding to the local landfill, but you’ll also save a fortune over the cost of paying professionals to tile your own bathroom and create a shower for you.
Are there items you simply can’t stand to put back into your remodeled home? Perhaps there is a row of cabinets from the master bathroom that you hate. Instead of throwing them out, consider donating them to an organization such as Habitat for Humanity, or reuse those cabinets in your garage where you don’t mind how they look.
There are many creative ways to not only remodel your home so it uses less energy and is better for the environment, but also to make sure the project itself has the least possible negative impact on the environment.
How do you minimize your environmental impact when working on your home? Tell me in the comments section below!
Image by Life of Pix
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