Recycling and reusing can reach beyond spent wine bottles and yesterday’s newspapers. If you’re about to do a home renovation or building project, start thinking outside the hardware store.
Building materials can be salvaged from neighbours, your basement, reuse stores, thrift stores and online platforms such as Freecycle, Facebook and Craigslist. You can cut costs and have a more unique, finished look.
Take a stroll through any interior decorating showroom nowadays and you are bound to see examples of items transformed from shabby to chic: Vintage door handles fastened to a distressed piece of wood and made into an upscale coat rack; a barn door sanded down and given funky legs to create an eye-catching dining room table; or liquor bottles cut and repurposed into light fixtures.
These one-of-a-kind pieces command a pretty penny once on store shelves, but can also be made for cheap at home. Here are just a few materials that can be transformed into useful décor and building materials:
• Old windows can be repurposed into a greenhouse, transformed into a country cottage mirror or fashioned into a picture frame.
• Lumber can be sourced from your property and milled onsite for future projects.
• Wood offcuts can be stacked to create a stunning wall cover.
• Old dressers can be refitted for use as kitchen or bathroom counters.
• Premixed or slightly off-tinted paint is available at a discount from many building supply stores.
• Shutters can be painted and transformed into room dividers or a headboard.
• Car tires can be used for roofing tiles, foundation posts or a rammed earth wall.
• A broken rake can become a tool hanging station or wine-glass holder in the kitchen.
Once you start becoming innovative, the possibilities are nearly endless. Keep in mind that retrofitting and fixing used materials can be more time-consuming than driving to the store to buy a generic finished version. The extra effort is worth it on many levels beyond aesthetics.
Buying new contributes to unnecessary consumption of our planet’s limited resources while reusing gives a longer life to something that was likely destined for the landfill.
Unsure where to start? Make a list of the building materials you will be needing and think about alternative places to source them used rather than new. And, if you’re simply itching to be creative, see what materials you have around the house and check online for fun ways to upcycle them.
Let’s Talk Trash is Powell River Regional District’s waste-reduction education program.