About paper, plastic, and re-purposing Ikea kitchens... I would never call myself a 'tree hugger' (and I have a PS3, PS4, and too many airmiles to prove that) but even I think sometimes it pays to be smart... either for the environment, or just for the money.
So calling myself a tree hugger would not be entirely correct. In fact, I've been looking at ways to bring down my energy consumption as it is above average, but it is hard to see goodbye to all those electronic gadgets and luxury items. I've taken some steps to reduce energy consumption (and save money).
I also looked at what I throw away, and how I actually dispose of it. Which was a bit of en eye opener...
In the Netherlands we have a few categories for recycling. (This actually differs from town to town.) We don't have as many as we saw during our holiday in Japan (which was amazing).
Yeah, of course I did some recycling. I kept the toxic stuff separate, but to be honest foodstuff, papers, metals and plastic all went into the grey 'remainder' box. Glass too, on a lazy day.
After re-modelling part of the house (a long story involving a kitchen and an ex-spouse) me and the kids decided to take things a little more serious. So we took the following steps:
1. We looked at how much we throw away, and most of it turned out to be paper and plastic. Especially the amount of plastic was scary... Plastic garbage is collected once a week, and here's the 60 liters bag with all the plastic garbage of a single week. Scary.
2. We arranged for containers to seperate garbage before actually disposing of it. We actually throw away very little food, so we skipped on the 'foodstuff' one for now. (We may add it in the future.)
3. Our kitchen is upstairs (again a long story) so going down the stairs for each and every piece of garbage was a bit much. We kept our old garbage bin upstars (the big gray one) and added two small containers for paper and plastic. When cooking is done anything glass is taken downstairs. Same applies if the two small containers fill up.
4. The amount of special garbage is minimal (chemicals, lamps, batteries) so we combined those in one box, separating them using a few tough plastic bags.
Simple. Cheap. And I sleep better now.
As long as possible
As a rule of thumb, I never throw away anything without first trying to repair it, or having it repaired. We used an old glass tube for ages (a JVC 28" wide screen television, one of the early models) which (with one repair) lasted more than 10 years. We only got rid of it because we needed the space. Our current flat-screen is also more than 10 years old, and still works great.
The same applies to my audio setup. The amp is more than 10 years old, the speakers (Magnat Lambda 10) more than 20 (and still sound better than most garbage that's being sold these days).
My own PC was something special once, a Dell XPS720. Now it's just an ugly box of more than 10 years old. But it still works and still plays many games, so why would I replace it?
My kids have been using an even older second hand Core 2 Duo for years. The I3 they use now was the cheapest 'acceptable' machine I could find (it needed to run Guild Wars 2). Our monitors are 10+ years old. And so on...
Re-use and re-purpose
My final trick always has been to re-use whatever I can. Primarily to save money, but it is nice to be green at the same time, eh? 😉
So here are a few examples:
In our previous house we had a simple table with four metal legs and a wooden top. When we moved into our new home, on the actual day we moved, I spotted almost exactly the same top that someone put outside as garbage. Each part became half of the computer desk you see below. (I used white oil to make sure it wouldn't get too yellow with age.)
When we moved into this house I build my own kitchen on the ground floor, using Ikea Faktum elements, combined with an oak top. It looked like this:
After 10 years I had to move it upstairs (the aforementioned long story) and decided to reuse as much as possible, even if the kitchen was already 10 years old. This was in 2014, the same year Ikea discontinued their Faktum line. They gave a nice discount on everything Faktum.
In the new spot, one floor higher, I had less space on one side, and needed more (as I temporary lost the storage downstairs) so I split the kitchen up in two parts, on opposite sides of the house (read: room). Which looks like this:
(As you may notice there are still a few things to be done. Some day... some day...)
So, by replacing some parts and adding some new ones I created a new kitchen, which hopefully lasts for another ten years.
In the past 13 years three machines broke down: the fridge (Ikea), the dishwasher (Ignis) and the induction plate (well, I dropped something on it so that doesn't count).
Remember that recycle project? Here's how that looks in practice:
What to do with the old kitchen top and leftovers? How about a cutting board (recognize that oak?) or a low table?
So, regardless if I am 'green' or not, I saved (a lot) of money by doing all the works myself, and re-using as much as possible. And I'm damn proud of that kitchen!