Guest column: ‘Green’ decisions for homeowners

By Angie Timmons
Guest Columnist

RethinkRecyclingLogoThe greenest building is the one already built, yet sometimes that building needs a makeover. Homeowners have many opportunities during the life cycle of a remodeling project to make decisions that will result in less waste while making their budget go further.
Make intentions clear: Consumers have become savvier about green construction practices and products, and contractors are responding.
If you’re hiring contractors to help you with anything from attic insulation to gutting the kitchen, have conversations early in the process about your expectations for managing materials. Let them know reducing waste and conserving resources are priorities for you. You can find a contractor trained in green building at
Purchase green products: In January 2013, the American National Standards Institute approved the National Green Building Standard, which includes changes that make it easier for builders to get their green remodeling projects rated. The list of green approved products to choose from is growing constantly. To learn more, visit
Measure twice, cut once: Effectively managing your construction materials is one of the most important steps to green remodeling. Professionals in the building trade estimate that inadequate planning can result in up to 20 percent waste of materials. Double check measurements and lists of materials needed before purchasing.
Salvage material: Deconstruction, instead of demolition, can dramatically reduce the volume of waste generated during a home remodel. Learn more about materials that can be removed and companies who handle them at or by searching online for “used building material.”
Donating your leftover or salvaged building materials enables someone else to benefit from them, and you may be able to get a tax break. You also can make your budget go further by incorporating salvaged items into your plans.
Some items don’t belong in the trash: Oil-based paint, stain and varnish contain hazardous ingredients. Do not put these items in the trash and do not mix them with latex paint. A small amount of latex paint that has completely dried can be placed in the trash with the lid off. Take leftover paint, stain and varnish to your county household hazardous waste drop-off site. County site locations and hours are listed on
Visit to find ways to reuse or recycle packaging and building materials, such as carpet or appliances.

About The Solid Waste Management Coordinating Board launched its first education outreach campaign in 2003 to help citizens living in Anoka, Carver, Dakota, Hennepin, Ramsey and Washington understand the urgent need to make environmentally responsible purchasing and disposal decisions in their daily lives. The board is proud to sponsor its current campaign,