5 tips to limit the contribution of waste during your next home renovation

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Plus, how to dispose of old paint, mattresses, and light bulbs responsibly.


We all know: renovations produce a parcel of waste. (They contribute to more than 500 million tons of construction and demolition debris generated each year in the United States.) But you can strengthen your bungalow or re-imagine your Denver Square while making smart decisions that limit your contribution to discharge. So says the Good Future Design Alliance (GFDA), a national network of design and construction professionals and manufacturers (with a strong Colorado chapter) that has pledged to reduce its waste by 50% over five years. Founded by Californian designer Katie Storey in January 2020, the group gives its members tools, training and benchmarks to achieve their waste reduction goals. Here, Storey shares her top tips for home remodelers looking to relax on Mother Earth while sprucing up their digs.

Start the conversation early.

“Right from the start, make it a priority to do a low-waste project so it’s at the top of everyone’s mind,” Storey says, whether you’re just teaming up with your spouse for a DIY project. or whether you’re working with a complete design – build a team. Even better, you can hire a GFDA designer (visit thegfda.com for a list of members) Ask yourself: Does everything really have to go? Before you take a sledgehammer all over the house, ask yourself if you can salvage a few items. Maybe the kitchen cabinets just need a new finish, or the millwork and trim can be saved and reused. Even the bathtub could look beautiful after updating other bathroom accessories.

Ask yourself: does it all really I have to go?

Before you take a sledgehammer all over the house, ask yourself if you can salvage a few items. Maybe the kitchen cabinets just need a new finish, or the millwork and trim can be saved and reused. Even the bathtub could look beautiful after updating other bathroom accessories.

Deconstruct and redistribute.

The GFDA provides each member with a city-specific directory of businesses that help keep everything from building materials to furniture out of landfills. “It’s more than goodwill,” Storey says. “These are community groups, APEs, local non-profit organizations that receive donations for the good of the community.” Moral of the story: your bric-a-brac is someone else’s treasure and you can support the work of local benefactors by calling around to see who can give new life to the materials or accessories you donate. you don’t want anymore.

Check your sources.

No surprise: building products vary widely in terms of their impact on the planet (and your health at home). To find eco-friendly materials, Storey recommends looking for products with a label from Declare, a platform that reveals where a product comes from, what it’s made of, and where it’s going at the end of its useful life. She also suggests looking for companies that have received specific certifications. B-certified companies, for example, must demonstrate that they make business decisions with a commitment to customers, the community and the environment, while Forest Stewardship Council certification ensures that wood and paper products are harvested responsibly.

Furnish with items from the past.

Storey touts the quality of furniture made before “this age of fast furniture” and suggests finding vintage and antique pieces instead. To get started, try Chairish, an online marketplace for unique vintage, antique and contemporary pieces, and set your filter to buy within an 80km radius of your home. You’ll save the carbon “cost” of shipping a piece across the country and find a piece of jewelry that’s new to you.

What should I do with my old…

To paint: PaintCare, a national nonprofit, recycles unwanted paint and operates a section in Colorado. Visit paintcare.org to find a depot location near you.
Mattress: Spring Back Colorado deconstructs mattresses and box springs, then reuses or recycles the parts. Schedule a pickup or locate a donation site at springbackco.org.
Batteries, bulbs, plastic, polystyrene and more: For a small fee, local company Happy Beetle picks up your hard-to-recycle items monthly or quarterly, as does national company Ridwell, which also operates in the Denver metro area. (Happy Beetle also serves Boulder and Louisville.) Learn more at thehappybeetle.com and ridwell.com.

This article originally appeared in the February/March 2022 issue of 5280 Home.

Hilary Masell Oswald

Hilary Masell Oswald

Hilary Masell Oswald is the editor of 5280 Home and a contributor to 5280.

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