The home improvement industry has grown considerably over the last several decades, as homeowners increasingly took steps to turn their homes into personal oases. But such projects often produce substantial amounts of waste, negatively impacting the environment as a result. According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, an estimated 170 million tons of building construction, renovation and demolition-derived wastes were generated in 2003, a year when the housing market was thriving and homeowners were not shying away from costly home improvement projects. With the housing market once again on the rebound, the home improvement industry figures to benefit once again. There are steps eco-conscious homeowners can take to reduce waste while improving their homes. * Save salvageable materials. Some materials simply must be discarded when making improvements to a home. But many more materials can be salvaged. When making renovations to a home, separate materials like lumber, hardware, fixtures, and even appliances that can be salvaged from those materials that must be discarded. Many communities are home to organizations that collect salvageable materials, and these materials can be reused by fellow homeowners or other organizations down the road. * Speak to contractors about recycling. Contractors working on a home typically know which materials can be recycled in a given area. When discussing prospective projects with contractors, homeowners can mention their willingness to recycle materials. Wood is a versatile material that can be turned into reclaimed or composite wood products, including decks or other items used around the home. Old wood being removed from a home may even work as mulch, which homeowners can spread around their yards to add aesthetic appeal and protect plants on hot summer days. Even asphalt and concrete can be recycled into new products, and homeowners should discuss their wishes to recycle as many materials as possible. * Choose recycled content building materials. Another way to reduce home improvement project waste is to make use of other homeowners’ discarded materials. Recycled content building materials are products that include materials recycled from previous projects. These once-sparse materials are now commonplace, and labels often include the percentages of postconsumer and recovered materials used in each product. Materials such as drywall, insulation, kitchen countertops, glass tiles, carpeting and carpet padding may include recycled content, and the growing popularity of such products has made them relatively simple for homeowners to find. When working with contractors, homeowners should emphasize their
Spring is a time of year when many people resolve to give their homes or apartments a thorough cleaning. Spring cleaning projects help people revitalize their homes for the warm months ahead, when windows are once again opened, fresh air pervades homes and items that might have accumulated over a dark and dreary winter have become a distant memory. Many families have spring cleaning rituals that allow them to efficiently clean their homes in a single weekend. But it’s just as important for spring cleaners to place as great an emphasis on the environment as they do on efficiency when cleaning a home. Eco-friendly spring cleaning practices produce less waste and rely on less chemicals to rejuvenate a home and get it ready for those seasons when huddling inside under the covers takes a backseat to lounging around the house as fresh air washes into the home. The following are a handful of ways to efficiently clean a home while also protecting the environment. * Clear out the clutter. Clutter is an enemy to homeowners and the environment alike. That’s because addressing clutter is often an inefficient process in which homeowners methodically go through items that have accumulated over the years, individually choosing which items to keep and which items to discard. Clutter can also prove harmful to the environment because rooms filled with clutter tend to collect dust, reducing air quality and leading to more indoor air pollution that can prove harmful to human health. When sifting through clutter in a home, discard those items that have gone ignored for years, as they likely have little or no financial value and it’s safe to assume they serve no practical purpose as well. Once clutter has been cleared out, prevent more of it from accumulating by making a conscious effort to discard items once they no longer serve any practical purpose. This includes old newspapers and magazines, as well as any other items that are likely to sit in a pile or on a shelf for months on end. Preventing the buildup of clutter reduces the amount of time you need to spend spring cleaning next year while also improving indoor air quality. * Use cleaners only when windows are open. Many people get a head start on spring cleaning in late winter, when the weather might have started to warm up but has not yet warmed to the point
Homeowners who want their homes to make strong first impressions must prioritize curb appeal. Homes with strong curb appeal sell well and can impart a welcoming feel to all visitors. Improving curb appeal need not be expensive, and the following are a handful of ways to improve the appearance of your home. 1. Install a bold-looking door in a vibrant color or one with a custom design. This helps the home stand out from other properties in the neighborhood. 2. Edge the driveway to create a distinct border between the driveway and the lawn or other landscaping features. This helps homes appear neat and well kept. 3. Use outdoor lighting to make a home more inviting. Outdoor lighting also makes properties safer to traverse at night. 4. Clean a home’s exterior to remove mildew or discolorations from the siding, driveway, patio, and other outdoor elements. 5. Improve landscapes with fresh plants and seasonal color. Homeowners without the time to plant can consider container gardens, which don’t take much time to assemble but still add appeal to a home’s exterior. 6. Prune planting beds and add new mulch to restore color. 7. Add shutters and accent trim to a home’s exterior to improve on the beauty of the house. 8. Install new fencing or give a fresh coat of paint or stain to an existing fence. 9. Replace concrete paths with tile or stone walkways to make entryways more impressive and inviting.