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Navigating Second-Hand Construction Materials

One of the top ways that my family lives more green for less green is through the wonder of second-hand items. We love used things because they come to us without concerns about responsible raw material usage or ethical production. Plus, we are keeping something out of a landfill. Also, those select plastic or composite things that we do bring into the house are typically done off-gassing. Win, win, win, win!

Between Freecycle, Craigslist, household item swaps, yard and consignment sales, and thrift stores, we don’t have to buy much new.  But, is this strategy possible with construction materials? We’re sure trying! Here’s how:

Salvage: Unfortunately, old water damage, cockroach infestation, and general neglect rendered most things in our basement unsalvagable. We are still contemplating rebuilding the toilet innards and reusing that, but we may splurge on a dual-flush toilet instead. The biggest thing we can save is our stairs. We will reuse the knotty pine panels to spruce up the stair walls (they will be painted) and the stairs will be sanded and painted rather than being demolished and rebuilt.

Scavenge: I sent hubby out to the shed to look through the random things that the previous owners of our house left behind. Sure enough, we found several boxes of wall tile to use around the bathtub. There is not enough for the entire area, but we  hope to supplement with similar tile from other sources to create a look like this:

ReStore: Habitat for Humanity runs the ReStore, which is like a thrift store for home improvement materials. There are retro things, modern used things, as well as some brand new materials. I plan to do a whole post on our ReStore adventures, but I will share that we found tile to supplement what we found in the shed (though we still will have to buy a smidge more, new)

Craigslist: The materials section on Craiglist is loaded with a variety of items. Just like ReStore, there is a mix of new and used, retro and modern. We bought a new bathroom vanity for a mere $50 from a guy who bought in on close-out at Home Depot, brought it home and his wife didn’t like it, so he put it in a storage facility to sit.
Freecycle: Over the summer, someone in our community listed brand new tile flooring that they had never gotten around to using on Freecycle. We knew it would be enough to floor the entire bathroom and perhaps a closet, too.
When using reclaimed items  from many sources, it is key to go in with an open mind and aim for mostly neutral items. Now that we’ve managed to piece together neutral flooring, neutral wall tile, and a neutral vanity, we can start thinking about pepping things up. For example, buying a bit of new tile to create an accent stripe around the bathtub stall, or using bright paint, or refinishing the vanity with a color.

Vanity Inspiration

Accent Tile Inspiration


About More Green for Less Green

Hi, I’m Pamm. Welcome to my little slice of the web! As a progressive Evangelical female pastor and crunchy homeschooling mom, I’m never quite what anyone expects of me. But, hey, that’s what makes blogging interesting, right? Join me as I try to wholeheartedly parent my three little boys, slowly fix up the trashed foreclosure we bought in 2009, and live simply.

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