Tuesday, March 31, 2009

What's Your Proudest Repurposed Object?


What a fantastic picture!! I found it here at Apartment Therapy San Francisco. "Repurposed Truck Spring Kitchen Stools." A.T. originally spotted this in the July 2008 issue of House Beautiful.

Here's House Beautiful's Interview with the owners:

"There's a nice balance between fresh white paint and battered wood, so nothing feels too pristine. And I like the improvised quality. What were those stools originally?

Giant springs, literally taken off a truck. I saw them at a salvage yard and thought they would look great by the island, which is made from an old falling-down fence on the property. We recycled the beat-up wood instead of throwing it away. Most people would probably not have done such a big island in a small room, but I knew it was going to be the social hub of the house. Besides, I like large, substantial pieces. They make a small space feel more solid and important. "

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Make a Birdhouse!

Here is a simple way to make a birdhouse out of that one last 6" piece of plywood you weren't sure what to do with or maybe a piece you purchased from a recycling store at a landfill or even one you salvage from Home Depot's dumpster!

The above design will leave you with a scrap of roughly 2"x20" (a great size for a stake if you grow tomatoes!!)

Here is another design:
This design leaves you with 10 3/4" x 5 1/2" (Small table top perhaps??)

I made one of my own....well I made two, What can I say? The red roof one was fun, the "landing post" ...as I like to call it...it a paint brush handle! ..Nothing goes to waste in this house.

I also put to extra pieces on the inside of the roof to hold it in place while in use, but is easily removed for cleaning, which is essential!

On the other hand, if you have a piece of wood that is half this size, simple remeasure the drawn design shown and you'll be attracting a different type of bird! Use your imagination, you could even use that old license plate from 3 cars ago you've had sitting around and you were about to throw out AS THE ROOF!!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Salvage, Sell, Reuse

Today I did a simple search on google for "salvaging building materials" .

The first link that popped up on the list was for "Second Use" a "community business" that has been reclaiming building materials since 1994 and is based out of Seattle, Washington.

Their mission includes:
  • Divert reusable building materials from the landfill
  • Preserve components of our architectural heritage
  • Provide affordable building materials to the public
  • Offer living wage jobs to our staff
Their website offers a great explanation of the benefits of salvaging materials such as:
"Six trains, each over a mile long, leave Seattle every week bound for distant landfills. At least a quarter of this waste is a result of building construction and demolition."

Also, there are some great before and after deconstruction pictures along with stories from their customers. Here a great example of a home deconstruction that Second Use performed with Grayhawk Construction in order to provide maintenance access to a nearby salmon creek.

For those customers for do not wish to keep the deconstruction materials, Second Use also has a retail store in which they publicly sell items. Their inventory currently ranges from appliances to windows, including plumbing, flooring, hardware, doors, lumber and masonry.

These items are staying out of the landfills and are now available to those doing renovations at a lower cost!!

Second Use also features on their website links to many other building materials exchanges and recycling opportunities, and salvage yards.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Building Material Re-use and EJ

I recently came across the website for the Building Materials Reuse Association (BMRA) which is a non-profit educational organization that works to facilitate building deconstruction instead of demolition and also the reuse and recycling of building materials which have become available through the process of deconstruction. The currently operate in both Canada and the United States. The BMRA works to bring companies and organizations together to share information and overcome barriers to building material reuse and recycling.

The company's goals are ones that are shared by many in the environmental field:
  • Reduce the consumption of new resources
  • Avoid landfill waste and pollution
  • Create value-added markets and increase cost-effectiveness
  • Expand job opportunities and workforce development skills
By implementing these goals, they hope to "increase the opportunities for the recovery and reuse of building materials in an environmentally sound and financially sustainable way." This accomplishment could benefit not only the construction field but also: our economy (by providing jobs and more affordable building materials), protect our communities from environmental injustice (see below), and reduce the consumption of non-renewable and/or virgin materials.

Participants of the Central and Eastern European Workshop on Environmental Justice (EJ) (Budapest, December 2003) (CEPL) defined environmental justice (and injustice) in the following way:

"Environmental Justice:
A condition of environmental justice exists when environmental risks and hazards and investments and benefits are equally distributed with a lack of discrimination, whether direct or indirect, at any jurisdictional level; and when access to environmental investments, benefits, and natural resources are equally distributed; and when access to information, participation in decision making, and access to justice in environment-related matters are enjoyed by all."
"Environmental Injustice:
An environmental injustice exists when members of disadvantaged, ethnic, minority or other groups suffer disproportionately at the local, regional (sub-national), or national levels from environmental risks or hazards, and/or suffer disproportionately from violations of fundamental human rights as a result of environmental factors, and/or denied access to environmental investments, benefits, and/or natural resources, and/or are denied access to information; and/or participation in decision making; and/or access to justice in environment-related matters."
Environmental Injustice exists all over the world from Asia to the US. You probably drive past a community that is fighting this injustice everyday, or maybe you live in one of these communities. One of the battles that deconstruction will fight will be environmental justice.

Through the process of deconstruction and reuse of these recycled materials, we are also severely depleting the amount of materials that are being thrown into landfills. During demolition, hazard and non-hazardous potentially reusable materials are all collapsed into 1 pile. These hazardous materials sometimes fail to be separately prior to entering the landfill and can contaminate the land and/or emit toxic fumes into the air and atmosphere near homes. This type of pollution is completely avoidable! By deconstructing a house in a manageable and systematic method, not only are the wood, metal and other fixtures able to be reused but we are preventing this pollution and indirect harm of communities.

There are many other companies like the Building Materials Reuse Association out there trying to promote a healthy environment, green jobs, and the reduction of consumption...all you have to do is a simple search for "Building Material Recycling".

Center for Environmental Policy and Law (CEPL)

The Building Materials Reuse Association (BMRA)

Monday, March 2, 2009

I saw this cartoon by Noel Ford and thought it was a great breakdown of the average home's household trash.

Please a take a minute and examine it.
Now, try to imagine where your home would fall if you analyzed your trash..

How did you compare?