7 Ways to Make You Remodel or Decorating Project More Sustainable

7 Ways to Make You Remodel or Decorating Project More Sustainable

If you have done any type of interior design project, you know the incredible number of materials it takes and how much waste can be created.   For environmentalists, this can create a great deal of inner conflict. One the hand you want a home that is functional and beautiful, but it becomes clear that the environmental cost for doing so is huge. The good news is that you can make decisions in a few key areas to make a difference and lessen your impact!

Use Timeless Materials

Interior design has been around since the first humans began sheltering in place, filling our homes beautiful items is fundamental to being human so the desire to decorate our homes is not going to go away.  We suggest our “Design for Decades” approach where the foundational selections (countertops, flooring, tile) are kept simple and timeless, while color and pattern are incorporated in the decorating allowing anyone to personalize the space.  Keeping the color palette neutral builds in flexibility and thus you (and other homeowners) can switch things up without having to toss these big-ticket items. Construction waste makes up 40% of our landfill waste and that’s in part because we often design our homes based on trends.

Christine Tanaka : Interiors

Employ Deconstruction & Sustainable Trash Services

Often materials such as cabinets, countertops, wood flooring, and trim pieces are in good condition can be deconstructed by a contractor or a deconstruction company.  These materials can be sold to local salvage yards, Bauer Brothers  or online retailers such as Recapturit www.recapturit.com. If the items don’t hold much market value, they still can be given away for free on Craigslist or Facebook marketplace. Another way to reduce project waste is to secure a local dumpster provider, such as Atomic Recycling  that goes the extra mile to ensure that most of the materials that end up in their dumpsters are recycled as well.

Park Arrow Sign

Purchase New Products from Sustainable Retailers

Our company prefers to patronize companies whose commitment to sustainability is the at the core of their business model and where at every step of their process they are lessening the effect they are having on the environment. Companies, like Gat Creek  whose solid wood furniture is sourced from regional forests that are sustainably managed.  They burn their wood scraps to power their manufacturing facility reducing their dependence on fossil fuels.   When evaluating the sustainability of a company we look to the Sustainable Furnishings Council as a trusted resource.

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Create Greater Energy Efficiency

Whether you are doing a remodel or new build creating greater energy efficiency should be top of mind. One of the simplest things you can do is to purchase energy star appliances and heating and cooling units. Most of our homes are still powered by fossil fuels and using less of it is always a good thing. If you are doing a remodel, you can request an energy audit by your local energy company and they can pinpoint problematic areas that can be addressed in the build.  If embarking on a whole house remodel, consider geothermal and solar panels for alternative sources of energy and sell your surplus back to the energy company!

Light Buld

Reuse, Reuse, Reuse

One of the first tasks in our design process is to assess what materials and furnishings will be incorporated into the project. We will often suggest that furniture with damaged or outdated finishes be restored or painted to make things fresh and new. For example, this dresser had an espresso finish (early 2000s vibe).  It took lots of energy to manufacturer, ship and install these products so this a great way to reduce the carbon footprint. If you are remodeling and the layout isn’t changing, we recommend keeping as many of the hard finishes as possible.  If you have a damaged wood floors, refinishing them, as opposed to installing a new floor.

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Donate, Sell & Recycle

In the last few years, what needs to be tossed is less and less as we discover new ways to continue the life cycle of items we don’t need or want. I know it takes more time, but it feels so good when we can make that happen! This year we ended up with a lots of Styrofoam packaging material from a large decorating project. We utilized Ridwell a recycling subscription service, where the Styrofoam was sent to a polystyrene recycling facility and made into lightweight picture frames. For furnishings that we can’t use in the project we sell them at our favorite local home goods store The Wabi Sabi Shop or donate them on Next Door or Craigslist.

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