There are thousands of resources available to help us conserve electricity and water, implement alternative energy and select nontoxic materials. In fact, the myriad of choices can make going green seem fairly complicated. One way to simplify sustainability is to stick with what you know: your local area. Many green advocates would say going local is what going green is truly all about. By using indigenous products, you create a more interesting space that reflects what’s available in your area –it makes a home that much more special.
Supporting local artists and purchasing materials from your area not only enhances a design, but also the community.
When selecting cabinet woods, furniture and flooring, find locally grown wood, if at all possible. Bamboo has been the shining star of the sustainability movement, thanks to its relatively quick re-harvest rates. However, if that bamboo happens to come from Asia, the amount of fossil fuels being burned to transport the material may weaken its green profile. If it’s difficult to find flooring in your area to recycle and restore, ask the local lumber yard if it carries products created from indigenous trees. Also ask if the lumber is coming from land that is being reforested. You want to work with a company that really cares about replanting the trees on a cycle.
Patronize local artisans. If your area is known for any kind of particular artwork or culture, it would be worth examining to see if there is a way to incorporate that into a project. For example, if you can find local artists who create art out of recycled or salvaged materials, your green quotient skyrockets. A little research into your region’s history and culture — past and current — may yield a wealth of accessories, art and furnishings.
Look into deconstruction or architectural salvage shops. Thanks to the modern green movement, deconstruction companies are more in demand than ever. If a home or another building is being razed to make room for a new structure, deconstruction workers will be called in to carefully disassemble the facility, thus significantly reducing the amount of construction waste heading to the landfill.
Many times, deconstruction companies will sell the items they’ve retained; lumber, windows, stained glass, trim and doors are popular products for sale. Architectural salvage shops, such as Urban Ore in Berkeley, operate similarly but are more likely to offer fireplace mantels or unique tiles. If you can get flooring or fixtures that comes from a local bank, school or house that’s being demolished, you’ll have something really beautiful because it’s from your area. Also, you will be recycling, reusing and bringing something with character back to its best.
Peruse garage sales, estate sales, antique stores and flea markets for accessories. A keen eye can find a potential gem amid seemingly unusable items. In fact, restoration is one of the easiest ways to go green while introducing a unique piece into your design. If you plan to refinish furniture, for instance, use an upholsterer in your town — and request that he or she use recycled fabric for the project. The reused elements will provide personality and texture to your projects. Start slow and soon you will find your creativity flourishing!