When Payman and I first moved into our house, and I had just found out (two days after moving in, actually) that Azita was going to burst into our world before it knew what hit it, finding ‘green’ or eco-friendly, or just eco-friendlier, stuff to fix up the house with was not nearly so easy as it is now.
It hadn’t hit the trends yet. Alas, I guess some bandwagons are a good thing. At least it gets the products out there. I remember looking for non-VOC paint and finding that it costed over $50 a gallon, in limited colors, through mail order.
The past few months our little home has been turned upside down as we did a much, much, needed (okay, well compared to most of the, a much *wanted*) renovation.
Our floor was warping with water damage, the yellowing tub was old and stained and had glue residues that were impossible to clean. It had also been redesigned at some point so that we had this huge empty space, no closet or storage, and the tub jutted out and took up about 1/3 of our bedroom closet on the other side of the wall… plywood covered with aging wallpaper.
My mom decided to offer her Christmas break to help us tear down the old bathroom and do the work ourselves. She spent her whole break working on it, but you just have to hope those articles that say spending your vacations in a different environment, even if you are doing hard volunteer work, is good for the mind and body are true!
Everything took a long time. So what did we do to green it up?
I’m not sure how green you can make your demo except by trying to save what can be saved and donating it to someone who needs it.
The floors weren’t possible to save…. all five rotting or warping layers of them… I tried to save some tiles to make mosaics with, but I think I gave up on that as the carport turned into a dump. The tub you couldn’t save, as the shower walls had to be cut to be taken out, and I doubt you could reinstall it anyway.
The sink and vanity I put on freecycle, but only the faucet got re-used. So we did do some landfilling there. Oh and the old drywall.
As far as re-installing stuff went, I tried to be as green as possible, but not only for the earth. I know I get sick from chemical smells, and I know every one of us is affected by them.
We got non-VOC paint, non-VOC caulk, and non-VOC spackling for holes in the walls. There is also a company that makes a chemical friendly, non formaldehyde wall mud/joint compound, called Murco-1000 I believe, but I couldn’t get it here. Those lucky Californians and Texans.
Drywall, I guess, can’t be made to be much more or less green.
I have watched and read about some amazing ways of building homes, that make more sense that our stick frame and drywall style, at least according to the green engineers. But I don’t know how much of that can be translated into a one-room renovation in a house built in the old drywall, asbestos laden material way.
When I put down the tile, I went with the brand at Lowe’s b/c it was LEED certified and offsets its water usage.
LEED means its good for the environment, not the human, and I kept getting dizzy spells after grouting tiles. I want to do whats good for the environment *and* the human, but I did what I could in all cases.
Water-sense faucets, non-VOC materials whenever available (and this means looking and both Lowe’s and Home Depot to see which one has it. Ugh, *SO* many trips to the hardwards stores!), and attempting to re-use and recycle seemed to be the way we could try to green it up.
And the new bathroom is so much better. So much cleaner. You don’t feel bad putting your kids in the new, clean, white, jetted tub. And our closet… finally back to a decent size! So we don’t regret any of it, but it was a big job.