Farm where you are....

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Only kind of crazy, trying to remodel green on a budget

I have found that it is very very difficult to remodel and stay true to health and environmental concerns when you are on a budget. It's all about concessions and compromise.
I can tell you when you tell some contractors that you don't want any press board or laminate materials in your house because of the off gassing, they look at you like you are crazy.
I opted for  a butcher block countertop because we couldn't afford natural stone. Laminate off gasses formaldehyde for up to 7 years and there is no way to dispose of it once you are through with it in an environmentally friendly way. Quite a few of the contractors I interviewed would only tell me about the down side of a wood countertop, or they didn't understand why I wanted to up grade to plywood frame construction on my cabinets, and I even had family that didn't understand the difference between engineered wood and regular hardwood.
And then I had the people that asked me why my kitchen wasn't going to be done totally "green."
Because I don't have  a million dollars, that's why. I would have loved to have done reclaimed lumber on my floor and special plywood cabinets with soy glue. I could drool over a vintage reclaimed sink and  even completely VOC free floor materials. But all of those things make the job 4 times as much and I needed to just make my house safe for my family on our really limited budget. So I conceded. And compromised. 
I've found that being green is about reasonable choices.

Plywood sub-flooring instead of OSB.
Plywood cabinets instead of pressboard so there were less VOC's and off-gassing.
Real wood flooring of local wood instead of engineered lumber. It was the second cut (grade b) (most people throw it away because it has too many flaws.) as well so it's using waste lumber from the first milling. I would love bamboo. Bamboo is gorgeous. But, Bamboo while fast growing and renewable, comes from far away.
Butcher block countertops so the material is easily recyclable, reusable, and less toxic.
Our sink was an enamel/ cast iron one but it was made from 93% recycled materials.
We painted the cabinets  and walls with No VOC paint.

We were able that way to keep our costs somewhat low, but not have our home be as toxic as it would be using other materials. With what we could afford.

Reasonable choices.