Have you considered butcherblock?
|NW Orchard Walnut Endgrain|
Finishes and Maintenance
|NW Orchard Walnut Endgrain|
10 TIPS FOR AN ECO-FRIENDLY PROJECT
1. Choose local (or at least U.S.-made) materials:
· The closer to home your project’s parts and pieces are made, the less energy and gas it takes to transport them to the job site.
· Buying locally-made products supports the local economy. With so many jobs being outsourced overseas, manufacturing jobs here in the U.S. can only continue if we vote for them with our purchasing dollars.
2. Separate waste:
· Keep as much of your demolition and on-going waste from the landfill as possible by establishing separate bins or piles for different types of materials from the start of the project. You can often save money on dump fees and/or get a little payback for some of your recyclable waste like metal or glass.
· Look for local salvage companies who take useful products to resell: cabinets, plumbing fixtures, working appliances, leftover tile or flooring and so on can be sold or donated.
· Habitat for Humanity’s ReStore Outlets accept donations to resell as a method of fundraising to help them build more homes for people in need (www.habitat.org/shop/).
· List your items on Craig’s List or FreeCycle, or try the Building Materials Reuse Association’s website: www.bmra.org/listings/ and “browse by state.”
3. Consider end-of-life implications:
· Think about what will happen to the products your are choosing when they have stopped being useful. Look for products that are biodegradable and non-toxic, such as wood which has been treated with a natural, non-toxic finish, or marmoleum, wool carpet, or cork. And while recycled-glass tile might not decompose, it won’t leach chemicals into groundwater like a petroleum-based, plastic product might.
4. Look for durability:
· $1.99/square foot may sound like a good deal, until you consider having to replace the product in a few years because it’s cheaply made and doesn’t hold up. Not replacing something is the greenest way to go, so look for items that can be refinished on-site or which are tough enough to withstand wear and tear for a long time.
· Is there anything in your existing space which is reusable? Perhaps your old kitchen cabinets can be moved into the garage for storage, or the wood flooring you are tearing out can become a piece of furniture. Consider refinishing or painting surfaces to give them new life, or even tiling an old laminate countertop rather than tossing it in the landfill.
5. Think about Indoor Air Quality (IAQ):
· Off-gassing does not only occur when a product is newly installed. Many products continue to emit particulates into the air for months or even years. Textiles like upholstery and carpet are especially guilty of this because we touch and abrade them during normal use, potentially releasing chemicals into the air and onto our skin. Choose products which have not been treated with harmful chemicals such as polyvinyl alcohol, chlorine bleach, benzidine, or toluidine (all common in the conventional textile manufacturing process). A good source for more information about environmentally sustainably-made textiles is http://www.oecotextiles.com/.
· We carry several brands of wool carpeting, which naturally cleans the air, because it absorbs humidity and therefore pollutants in the environment. The products we carry are not treated with harmful chemicals –wool is already stain- and fire-resistant, so it doesn’t need them. One of our wool carpets even uses a natural rubber adhesive rather than petroleum-based, with jute or hemp backing. The dyes in our carpets are also natural. Basically our wool carpet products are perfect for people who are sensitive to chemicals.
· You’ve probably heard of Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs), and know to look for no- or low-VOC products in the paint and flooring finish categories. However, you might not know that many pressed wood products like plywood, particle board, and engineered flooring are made with adhesives which can contain added urea-formaldehyde, one of the most common and dangerous VOCs in building products. Ours don’t. Be sure to look for products with water-based adhesives and finishes, not petroleum-based. We select all of our flooring products, cabinets and finishes based on their non-toxicity, high IAQ attributes.
6. Choose a green team:
· As you interview contractors, ask about their experience doing environmentally-friendly remodels. Many people will say “sure, we can do green” and then when you start the job they’ll steer you towards the old methods and materials they’ve used for years. They need to trust the processes and products they know in order to warrantee their work, so it’s important to know up front that they are comfortable and experienced with your eco-friendly selections.
· If you are doing a smaller job, and just need an installer, again, make sure it is someone who knows the product. If you live in the Seattle area we have some excellent installers we can recommend for the products we sell.
7. (Don’t) shop till you drop:
· Shopping on-line can save gas and be much more convenient (who doesn’t love shopping in their jammies?). However, obviously you can’t choose your new flooring from a web-site photo. Be sure to ask us to send you a sample if you’re trying to decide.
· As you look for products, you may end up with quite an assortment of samples. If they’re not already labeled when you get them, try to note where they came from so you can return them, rather than tossing them out (to a landfill). Or if returning them is too time-consuming, consider donating them to a local Interior Design school for students to use in their projects. The same goes with the pile of product brochures you no longer need.
· Canvas bags are not just for groceries! Bring them in with you when you shop for samples in person or make those inevitable trips to the hardware store. Anything to reduce using plastic bags is a good thing for the environment.
8. Do an energy audit:
· You may have countertops made of recycled wine bottles and cabinets made of coconut husks, but if your furnace is heating the outdoors, that’s a longer term problem for the environment. Visit this website to learn about doing it yourself, or hiring a professional. http://www.energysavers.gov/your_home/energy_audits/
· A whole-house systems approach includes the various energy-using components in your home such as appliances, heating and ventilation, and lighting, as well as the built structure and how it retains heat and cooling, such as the roof, windows and insulation. Paying attention to these areas can not only save money in energy bills and resources for the environment, but can also improve comfort and acoustics as well as the durability of your home.
9. Install water-saving plumbing fixtures:
· Dual-flush toilets use less water than an old, traditional 5 gallon toilet, generally 1.6 gallons for a full flush or .8 for a half flush. We carry Caroma and Kohler toilets: http://www.caromausa.com/ http://www.us.kohler.com/onlinecatalog/.
· Fluid makes a wide range of low-flow faucets and shower heads, including some pretty interesting shapes like Penguin and Emperor that fit a very contemporary aesthetic.
· Consider a water heater which heats on demand. Just as you probably wouldn’t keep a tea kettle going all day just to make a cup of tea in the evening, why maintain a tank of hot water for your morning shower? Tankless water heaters can also save space.
10. Prioritize your goals:
· If you’re feeling overwhelmed and confused, that’s understandable. Going green is complicated, because there are several facets to the sustainability movement. Think about what’s important to you: ensuring indoor air quality, supporting the local economy, choosing recycled or repurposed products, avoiding chemicals and petroleum, saving energy and minimizing shipping or harmful manufacturing processes are all worthy goals in an eco-friendly project.
· Once you’ve picked your personal priorities, you can more easily decide between products which are green in different ways. For example, bamboo flooring comes from China, but shipping it in large cargo ships is more energy-efficient than trucking smaller quantities of, say, oak across the U.S. The oak, however, supports U.S. jobs and might come from an old trestle bridge, rather than being harvested from a bamboo plantation. Equally important issues, it’s up to you to choose!
· In other products, it’s a little clearer which choice to make. Granite mostly comes from China or India, and is mined out of the side of a mountain in very destructive and petrol-intensive ways. All of our countertop products, on the other hand, are made in Oregon and Washington out of locally-sourced recycled materials and water- or bio-based binders. Some are even template-poured, resulting in almost no waste to go to a landfill. Which countertop would you choose?
· We currently have a client who has decided her priority is to purchase 75% U.S.- made products. Another family has a child with extreme chemical sensitivity, so they need wool carpeting with no chemical adhesives or backing and cabinets with no added urea-formaldehyde in the plywood boxes. A third client has designed her kitchen countertops with recycled glass, waste fly-ash, and pieces of shell and beach glass she picked up on her property. Once you decide your goals, let us help you have fun being creative with earth-friendly solutions!