Reduce, Reuse, Recycle in the New Year

January 2, 2015Home Remodeling

By Susan Christian

When most people hear the word “green” being used in conjunction with a home – their first thought is usually saving money on energy costs. However, at Meadowlark, we know that being “green” isn’t just about cutting energy bills and, in fact, the biggest savings to the environment in terms of resource use, energy savings, and pollution reduction come from thrifty purchasing (avoiding consumer waste) and reusing/repairing items before recycling1. Keeping items out of the waste stream is just as important as saving energy, and all these contribute to walking lighter on the earth. For Meadowlark this means that during a remodel we try to deconstruct homes and save everything from siding and bricks to ceiling joists and support beams. These carefully removed items are then taken to a building reclamation organization or reused into the design of the new remodeled space as new fireplaces, flooring, mantels, and even furniture. These items are not only resource-efficient, they also add character and interest to a home.

reclaimed-wood-mantel-and-fireplace- bricks

Reclaimed bricks and reclaimed support beam used in Ann Arbor remodel

reclaimed-beam-table-ann-arbor

Reclaimed barn beam used in dining room table

reclaimed-stairs-ann-arbor

Stair treads made from reclaimed lumber

We also try to practice what we preach in our daily lives; fortunately for us local folks, the Ann Arbor area has a multitude of organizations that will take donations of new or gently used items, and consignment shops that will pay for your used items to resell. So even if you are not planning on a major remodel, you can still live “greener” by looking into one or more of these organizations before throwing household items into the trash. For a comprehensive listing of resale/donation and consignment/resale shops in Washtenaw County, look here. We can all walk lighter on the earth…so think about what you can keep out of the waste stream.   Big Blue Dot photo: http://www.a2gov.org/departments/systems-planning/Sustainability/Pages/Sustainability.aspx 1. http://www.a2gov.org/departments/field-operations/trash-recycling/Pages/Reuse.aspx

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