Sunday, May 19, 2013

True Green Building

My oldest son, Luke, recently graduated from Ball State University with a degree in construction management. Much of the focus of his studies has been sustainable building practices, green energy, and environmentally friendly building practices.

Over lunch this week, we discussed the many ideas that consumers and home owners in our country have about "environmental" home remodeling. I cringe every time I watch a remodeling show where the homeowners rip out everything, and then want to rebuild with "environmentally-friendly products."

You know what is truly environmentally friendly? Keeping things out of landfills and using what you have!

Honestly, we are living in a disposable age, where we'd rather throw away something old before giving any thought to fixing and using what we have. It used to be that you bought something, used it, took care of it, fixed and repaired it, and were happy to have it. Now, we replace something merely because it's not currently popular.

Here's the big problem with following a trend. Trends have a very short life span. What is popular today will be unpopular ten years, five years, even a year from now.

When making decisions on your home, you have to ask yourself a few questions:

*Can I live with it?

*Can I give it an update without throwing it away?

*Do I really love it, or am I only loving it because advertisers are telling me to love it?

*Will I love it five years from now? Ten years from now?

*What is the environmental impact on my decorating and home decisions?

*What are the pieces of my home that are timeless, and what are the elements that are trendy? Am I investing too heavily in the trendy when I should be investing in the timeless?

Here's an example. I have two "vintage" bathrooms in my new home. One is "pink" and one is "yellow".

My realtor hated them both.

"So dated!" she said.

And in truth, they are dated. But you know what? I love them both! This little yellow bathroom is so sweet! I love the pedestal sink on the chrome base. I love the original tile floor. I love the true porcelain/ceramic tubs that keep the heat better than any of the vinyl tubs today. I took one look at these bathrooms and instantly thought "I can live with that!"

There will be other things in my new home that I will not love and I will not be able to live with, like the bulkhead cabinets in the kitchen that block the view and make me feel claustrophobic. Those will eventually go. But I hope to repurpose those cabinets somewhere in the home, maybe providing extra storage in the laundry room.

Small changes can make big impacts. Working with what you have can be a challenge, but I think that's half the fun!

Tell me...what steps have you taken to make your home a little "greener"?

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