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Home improvement

11 Sustainable Remodeling and Redecorating Ideas

A house cut in half with one side before the remodel and the other side after the remodel


Home remodeling and redecorating are great ways to bring some life back into your house as life outside ebbs from Summer into Fall. Even though it is increasingly popular, environmentally-friendly remodeling and redecorating can be difficult to find and afford.

Here at Sourgum Waste, we not only wheel your remodeling and redecorating waste away, but we'll also help you find some budget- and planet-friendly ideas to get started.

But what exactly is sustainable or "green" home remodeling? According to Sweeten Home Renovation and Home Remodeling, simply put: sustainable home building seeks to minimize construction waste while making homes more energy-efficient.

Keep reading for 11 ways to sustainably remodel and redecorate your way to a more aesthetic abode.

1. Energy Efficiency

A major goal of sustainable remodeling is making your home more energy efficient. But what does that mean? It can mean major changes for several areas of your home.

Sweeten first suggests that when you start your home remodeling process you should have an energy assessment conducted on your home. An energy assessment is an investment in your commitment to a sustainable home, but also in your financial future, as energy-efficient homes cost less in heating and cooling. It can involve a visual inspection as well as thermal imaging with infrared cameras to detect energy loss. Once you know where you are losing energy in your home, you'll know what to fix. Do you need to trap heat in with insulation, reseal your windows, or install a low-flush toilet? An energy assessment will help you figure out what you need to renovate and update for a more energy-efficient home.

2. Solar Energy

Another example you have probably seen in most articles you've read about sustainable remodeling is using solar energy. That is because it works!

Switching your home to solar energy is a sustainable remodeling choice that you can make today to enlighten your tomorrow. Solar energy is not just about installing solar panels: there are also solar attic fans, solar water heaters, and outdoor solar lights you can install to become a more solar-dependent home. If you want to learn more about the benefits of solar energy, visit our blog post "The Benefits of Solar Power".

3. Planet-Friendly Paint

Another way you can change your home and save the planet is by using non-Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) paint.

According to The Good Trade, VOCs create fumes and emissions that lead to a low-level toxic atmosphere in the home. This low-level toxic atmosphere can lead to headaches, dizziness, and other impairments depending on how filtered your indoor living spaces are. There are a variety of eco-friendly and VOCs-free paints for both indoor and outdoor use that can help brighten up your home and encourage a healthier in-home atmosphere. There is also a variety of VOCs-free peel-and-stick or removable wallpapers for those atmosphere-minded renters.

4. Face-lift Your Flooring (and Other Household Materials)

There are a number of materials you can use in your home that are not only sustainable but also increase your home's resale value.

For example, wooden floors are an excellent addition to your home that make cleaning easier, can come from sustainable sources, and increase the resale value. According to the General Contractor License Guide website, sustainable materials like rock, granite, natural linoleum, and stone also last longer than manufactured products so you won't need to waste additional materials to replace them periodically. When remodeling your home, think about using elements like stone and granite for your counter or table- tops and wooden or cork flooring for a natural feel throughout the home.

5. Liven up Your Lawn-scaping

Your landscaping can have a big impact on the climate of your neighborhood. According to Sweetwater Landscaping, landscapes are important for many reasons. They can offer solutions to various environmental issues, reduce pollutants in the environment, allow different species of plants to flourish in their natural habitat, and much more.

Some ways you can help your yard be environmentally impactful are planting a garden composed of species native to your area, using "ground cover" plants instead of grass, and if you cannot get rid of your grass, cutting it less frequently to reduce your lawn mower's emissions and to help the grass retain more water. For a more complete list of how to liven up your landscaping, visit Conserve Energy Future's list of eco-friendly landscaping ideas.

6. Upcycle & Update Your Existing Furniture and Cabinetry

The easiest way to redecorate your home is to update existing furniture and other materials already in your home. With a bit of DIY, you can breathe new life into old pieces by upcycling them.

For example, sand down your wooden furniture so you can refinish it and give it a fresh pop of color. Also, use the frames of old cabinetry with upcycled doors and handles. Or, for the sustainable refurbishment of fabric furniture, wash it out with a wet-dry vacuum, and then use that water to give your plants a drink. For more information about upcycling, visit our blog post "What is Upcycling".

If you prefer buying new sustainable furniture, however, check out Conscious Life & Styles' list of 27 Sustainable Furniture Companies for more information on buying sustainable furniture.

7. Go to Garage Sales

Take advantage of that spectacular end-of-summer weather! Visit yard sales to give new life to some second-hand items. Don't be afraid of getting your hands dirty to make a second-hand item clean. By shopping from yard sales, you are not only finding cheaper objects, but you are also supporting your neighbors and possibly even local businesses.

According to The Good Trade, shopping at garage sales helps us lower our carbon footprints and participate in a more circular economy, giving new life to items by keeping them out of landfills. Check out The Good Trade's Beginner's Guide To Shopping Summer Garage Sales for a complete guide to the environmental importance of shopping at garage sales and tips on getting the best deals on your purchases.

8. Replace Your Rugs

Now that you have some ideas on what materials to make your new sustainable flooring, how about getting some rugs to soften your step?

Unfortunately, VOCs, Volatile Organic Compounds, can also commonly be found in rugs. This is due to the rugs being treated with chemicals and dyes which can create fumes and emissions that have the same effects as VOCs in paint. As stated previously, that toxic atmosphere can lead to headaches, dizziness, and other impairments. When shopping for rugs, look for natural materials in the rug and rug backing. Check out The Good Trade's list of natural and sustainable rug sellers for more information on buying a VOC-free rug for your home.

9. Spare No Expense to Sleep on Ethically Sourced Sustainable Sheets

What is better for a bedroom refresh than redesigning the sheets you lay on? You, sleeping soundly on them knowing those sheets are ethically sourced and produced.

There are a variety of brands that focus on bedding that is good for your body and the planet. Common materials for sustainable bedding are cotton, bamboo, and linen. Those materials are often organic and hypoallergenic, so they are also safe for your skin. However, those bedding sets can be an expensive proposition for some. Conscious Life & Style compiled a list of over 30 brands that specialize in the sustainable bedding of your dreams (and some even have payment plans that help you afford your new ethical aesthetic bedding).

10. Hoard Some House Plants

While it may seem like a small thing, adding more houseplants can be incredibly beneficial to your home. They are also very on-trend, so you can keep up with the Joneses and help the environment.

House plants act as cleaners for VOCs, decreasing indoor toxicity by filtering the air inside your home. According to a study completed in 2019, the amount of plants needed to have an immediate impact on your home is about 93 plants per square foot of space. That is a little too much green for most spaces, but every little bit counts. Luckily, Country Living offers a list of 26 air-purifying plants that add a pop of color to your home and how to care for them. Pay close attention to the plants on this list, as some of them are toxic to both pets and humans if ingested. When considering indoor plants for the home, please take some time and research to find which plants are best for YOUR home and make sure your children and pets will be safe with them in the house.

House plants also provide mental health benefits. According to the Get Growing Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing year-round educational programming and community outreach to inspire interest in horticulture and the environment among youth in under-resourced communities, active interaction with indoor plants can reduce both physiological and psychological stress compared with mental work. Plants can reduce feelings of anxiety and depression. Indoor plants can also make you more productive and boost your creativity. Lastly, tending to plants models self-care, as they need many of the same things we do: food, water, sunlight, attention, patience, and love.

11. Donate, Don't Waste

Last but not least, before you throw away anything from your home remodel, make sure to donate what is usable to others in need or to a local business.

Keep the upcycling cycle going by thinking about what really needs to become remodeling waste and what can be really useful to someone else and their upcycling journey. If you cannot find a neighbor or local business that will take your salvaged construction materials, you can probably find a local reuse store or nonprofit to take them. There are many regional nonprofits like Big Reuse in New York, Construction Junction in Pennsylvania, and The Repurpose Project in Florida that will take your salvaged construction materials and old fixtures and furniture to give them a second chance at being homed while supporting zero-waste and sustainable ventures. These reuse stores and nonprofits help to build a strong local economy, reduce your carbon footprint, and help people become less reliant on large-scale manufacturing supply chains.

However you remodel and redecorate, here are a few simple things to remember:

Refresh Don't Replace

  • Reduce, Reuse, and Upcycle your furniture and other home decor.

Deconstruct or Donate Don't Demolish

  • Take what is still usable from anything being deconstructed and reuse it!

  • Donate what you can to local salvage yards, businesses, or neighbors in need.

Start Small

  • Don't start something you can't finish in terms of sustainable living; take small and consistent steps toward living sustainability and helping the environment.

  • If you truly want to renovate your home but find a full home renovation overwhelming, try to renovate one room at a time for a more realistic renovation timeline.

  • Switch one type of decor to a sustainable brand or material at a time rather than redecorating your whole house.

Remodeling or redecorating your home with sustainability in mind will contribute to a positive impact on the world's energy consumption and help you become less reliant on products with dangerous chemical components.

By choosing to remodel or redecorate, you have already made the green choice.

Read more from The Sour Scoop blog to learn other ways to choose sustainable, waste-free, and "green" for your home or business.

Looking for environmentally friendly waste services?

Sourgum Waste not only provides you with the best service at the best price, but we are also committed to sustainability. We divert waste from landfills whenever possible and plant a tree for every order placed through us.

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