Use reclaimed lumber.

Old wood has amazing beauty and yields great sustainability because it represents the reuse of embodied energy. Think of all the steps that had to go into the growth, harvest, transport and fabrication of the wood in the original structure, and then about its safe and careful removal and preparation for reuse. You can keep great material from being destroyed and keep local people employed.

Salvage doors.

People replace doors for all kinds of reasons, and replacing a door with one from salvage helps to ease the planet’s pain.

Repurpose furniture.

Keep the bones and redo the surfaces. Think about making a vintage buffet into a bathroom vanity, or updating a piece by topping a classic base with modern granite or marble. Even a faux finish allows a rebirth of an outdated piece into a statement of beauty and sustainability.

Reuse metal.

Iron and aluminum gates, grates and fences may be returned to their original function or recast as decoration, wall hangings or yard art/trellises. Often all that’s needed is a can of spray paint. Again, the embodied energy saves the planet much abuse—think mining, smelting, transportation, fabrication and delivery. By avoiding much of the industrial process, the environment is less damaged both in resource acquisition and in energy consumption.

Remember the past.

Vintage collectibles, from typewriters to hand tools, show a current generation what came before. This continuity keeps a sustainability of the mind and reiterates both how far we have progressed and how sometimes simpler is better. 

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