Zero Waste Renovations

A building project can be a daunting task. It involves planning, executing, avoiding disasters and fixing mistakes. That’s why most of us don’t think twice about the waste we generate during a construction project, there is just no time or energy. It is by far easier to gather all waste in one dump bin and take it to the landfill. In Canada, the construction industry generates between 25 to 33% of all soil waste and that is not a small number. It is sad to say that renovations are one of the least eco-friendly endeavours….unless we make some adjustments. Here are some tips:

1. Painting

When painting your place, see if you can use paints that are low in VOCs or completely VOC-free. These paints are less likely to cause allergic reactions in those sensitive to the solvents. Also, check out the “Oops” section of the painting department. They usually have paints that were not purchased due to a colour mistake or a wrong size, so they come with a discount. The colours may not be exactly what you are looking for but perhaps you will find a gem, or a new inspiration!

2. Repair before replace

Is the kitchen you are looking at styled from the 70’s? It is understandable why you would want to get it replaced. However, there are ways to update the kitchen without demolishing it. There are companies that can reface the cabinets with a fresh coat of paint or replace the doors while keeping the shelving intact. It saves material expenditure and the money in your wallet. Overall, trying to repair before replacing items can significantly reduce waste piled in the bin.

3. Sort

This is one of the most daunting tasks. Not only do you have to labour on the project, you then have to sort all the trash that you made. However, this task greatly increases the changes of the material being recycled and immensely helps with the waste crisis. Starting early is the best way to go about it. Do not wait for a mountain to accumulate to start sorting. Besides, depending on the facility you deal with, you won’t have to sort everything down to the last detail. Some materials get recycled together and some not. For example, pile metals together, no need to sort them down to the type of metal they are. Asphalt and concrete go together as well.

4. Protect the floors and nature

Instead of purchasing drop sheets to protect floors or furniture, consider using your old bed sheets. If you do not have any, see if friends or family have some to donate to you. If that fails, there are thrift stores that sell them for a small sum. You can also use cardboard moving boxes to cover the flooring during construction.