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Reclaimed wood floorboards… Photo: houzz.com
Factor in Transportation
It's a great idea to shop for green products. Fortunately, they're becoming easier to find. But don't forget to factor transport into the true cost of what you're buying. Every time a product has to be loaded onto a ship, truck, airplane or train to get to you, fuel is consumed and its carbon footprint gets bigger. If it has to go to Italy to be cut and polished, that stone countertop suddenly gets a lot more expensive for you and the environment even if it was quarried in the next county.
Look for Local Products
Reclaimed wood siding is a great idea, especially if it was taken from a barn down the road. If it had to be shipped across the continent, though, you're better off using lumber that was harvested near you. Look for the stamp of the Forest Stewardship Council to be sure it was sustainably harvested. When it comes to cabinets, doors, hardware and decorative details, never underestimate the power of your local salvage yard. Invest a little paint stripper or brass polish, and you've got an authentic piece of history that hasn't had to travel far to find a home.
Revive Instead of Buying
By the same token, before you junk that tattered old sofa, find out what your local upholsterer would charge to revive it. Most likely, it will cost less than buying, packaging and transporting a new one.
Work with Local Services
By employing services and retailers in your community, you're keeping money and jobs local and encouraging wise use of nearby natural resources.