Natural Alternatives

During the month of October we will be doing one post a day with natural alternatives that you can use to substitute everyday products. Many commercialized products contain harmful chemicals or contain harmful chemicals in the packaging. By substituting these products out of your daily routine, you can take steps towards bettering your health and leaving a smaller environmental footprint. Stay tuned!

Renovation Vs. New Construction: The Best Option For Your Project

As the construction and architecture industry is revitalized, we are having trouble with the debate of new construction vs. renovation. What is the right choice? Is new construction better because of the savings? Renovation, while it may not be great on the budget side of the spectrum, has the least harmful affect on the environment.  It boils down to this main argument: New Construction requires either the assertion of more space, or demolition of an old building. 

Claiming more space means less land that could be used as parks, crops or reserves. The more cities grow outwards, the less space there will be for wildlife. A vital point to our existence; we need plants for oxygen to breathe. This concept is very basic but it needs to be taken seriously as a consideration for your project. While it may not seem like your one project will make much of a difference, it’s valuable if possible, to not add to the problem. 

Demolition takes more time and more resources. Think about the gas it would take for the demolition vehicles to operate. And unless you are planning to repurpose the materials from the existing building, all the waste will have to be moved to a landfill, which is less than ideal. One thing to consider no matter what you choose is that there are resources you can use to help you recycle unused materials so that they don’t end up in places where they will go to waste.

Renovation can be difficult in terms of finding the right structure to meet the needs of your project.  Does the layout of the existing building fit the desired end result? If the reasons that it may not fit the desired end result are cosmetic, renovation is the best option. Cosmetic repairs are relatively easy and low-cost to complete. However, if there were a lot of structural remodeling that needs to take place in order for the space to work for your needs, it would be better to either look for a new space or to consider new construction.  When considering renovation, it is wise to also plan for unforeseen costs that may include asbestos or lead content, rotted lumber, or non code-compliant wiring.

 If you look at large cities that are veering on the side of renovation, you might be impressed by the results.  Los Angeles and Portland are two examples of cities that are taking huge initiatives to choose renovation over new construction. Many historic buildings have been restored and repurposed as office buildings or residential lofts, while the unique historical architecture of the original construction is maintained.  I remember when I lived in downtown Los Angeles in the theatre district feeling like I had stepped into a time machine and was walking through the city streets in 1920 with all the vintage marquees and building structures of the jazz age.

However, this can also hold true on a smaller scale in terms of new home construction as opposed to home renovation. Renovations are often far more unique than new home construction. If you look at the majority of home construction companies today the goal is cheap and quick. Homes that were built long ago were built to last with strong, quality materials that create good structural bones. New construction also creates tracks in the landscape while renovation allows the matured vegetation to remain untouched.

There isn’t a right or wrong answer but be sure to weigh out the pros and cons of each for your specific project. We recommend and encourage renovation, but if new-construction is the best option for you, please consider choosing environmentally responsible building materials. Check out our website for great deals on eco-friendly flooring, countertops, and more.

Mikel from Green Goods presents DIY instructions to install your own wood, bamboo or cork floor.  From preparation to finish and maintenance, he discusses all aspects that will make your job as painless as possible. It is also great for those who are hiring installers to know background on the process.  

Celebrate National Tree day by planting one, hugging one, or by buying products with the rainforest alliance certifications!

For those of you who couldn’t make it to our free Clay Plaster Workshop at our headquarters a couple weekends back here are some great highlights from Orit Yanai. Clay plaster is the most environmentally friendly application to put on your wall and very DIY friendly as well. 

Linoleum Vs. Maroleum: Why buy green?

Linoleum, the popular and inexpensive flooring option during the 1970’s, is not the greenest flooring option.  The name linoleum is commonly associated with Vinyl sheet & tile as well as peel & stick vinyl composition tile (VCT). Despite the fact that it discolors over time and begins to peel, it also releases harmful VOCs into the air including alkanals, alkenals and fatty acids. These VOCs can cause health problem if they are breathed in for long periods of time. But the charming aesthetic of linoleum and its low cost makes it highly sought after. However, there is an environmentally responsible alternative for linoleum.

Marmoleum Natural Linoleum is a high-quality flooring product made from 100% natural ingredients without any harmful VOCs or other toxic chemicals. Marmoleum is linoleum.  It’s the original formula.  The primary ingredient is linseed oil – the ‘linol’ part of the name.. Discovered & originally produced accidentally by a guy named Frederick Walton. It is the ideal flooring for any room in the house, from the hallway, kitchen and children’s rooms, where traffic is likely to be heaviest, to the living room, study or bedroom. Marmoleum continues to harden and gain durability over time because it is made of natural ingredients; linseed oil, pine rosin, cork, limestone, natural pigments and jute backing spun from renewable plants. 

Marmoleum comes in sheets, click panels, and tiles just like linoleum. Marmoleum Sheets are a streamlined look and offer many color options and click panels are a great option for DIY’ers. Marmoleum Click gives you the power to design your own patterns, as well as being easily installed and maintained and are available in 24 colors options. Marmoleum Modular tile (my personal favorite) is naturally sustainable and comes in 44 beautiful colors and 3 coordinated sizes designed to mix and match for endless design possibilities. Modular makes it easy to create inspiring designs ranging from timeless chevron, herringbone, and checkerboard patterns to modern mosaics.

In comparison, Marmoleum is comparable in cost, more durable, and more sustainable than linoleum with the same, if not more, design options.  Choose the healthy option for you and your family and feel good about your low impact on the environment. Check out our website for awesome deals on Marmoleum Modular Tile!

Beautiful Kitchen Remodel in straw-bale constructed house using environmentally friendly materials throughout! 

Cabinets: Custome Green Leaf Cabinets made frome tiger strand woven bamboo with varying grain directions and FSC Certified maple plywood for the boxes. All joined with no added fermaldehyde adhesives.  

Countertops: FSC Certified wood butcherblock.