Renovating

I thought I’d start the blogging as we did the new year in our home… talking about renovating. We bought an apartment in 2015 which had hardly been touched since being built in 1974. It came complete with wood laminate in the kitchen, orange splash back tiles with matching floral floor tiles and delightful blue floral pattern in the bathroom.

We renovated the kitchen in 2016, at the time I was conscious of implementing the best environmental practice, although, I did not necessarily act on it. We saved,  re-purposed or recycled what we could, which included tiles, sink, oven and cook top. Unfortunately much of the rest of the kitchen had passed its use-by date. Many of the tiles were cracked and broken and the bench tops and cupboards were flaking laminate like dandruff on a high school science teacher. Nevertheless, I was shocked at the amount of waste and rubble that came with renovating (a full skip and then some). My mind was reeling on one of its tangents… “if this is how much waste one kitchen produces, then how much waste does a whole house produce, or worse still a building site!” and I’m sure very little of the waste is reused or recycled.

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This photo actually does the room justice (magic of estate agents) (Source: http://www.realestate.com.au).

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Next on the list was the bathroom. This time round it was a goal to create as little waste as possible, while still doing what we had to do. The room consisted of a shower, bath, bench with sink, sliding mirror storage, space for a washing machine and a separate toilet. The main issue was the laundry waste outlet had nowhere to go other than into the bath. Not such a big deal except we use cloth nappies. Nappies = black water. I’ll take one shitty bath please… literally not figuratively.

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Is that a snake in your bath? No ma’am it’s the laundry hose.
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Q: How many different tiles do you see? A: If you count the marble floor 4. It seems there was no such thing as “too much” in the 70’s.

Keeping the bath and rendering it wasn’t an option as we needed a waste outlet for the washing machine. This would require installing a smaller bath and a laundry sink. This also meant the existing bench would make it difficult for a normal size human to fit into a smaller bath, it also had to go. And as much as I loved them, so too did the pink taps.

I put the items on Gumtree and Facebook for free without a single bite. In the end I called 1800 GOTJUNK who were able to take the items away and repurpose or recycle what they could (bath and sink, unfortunately the bench was damaged in the removal stage).

We painted the tiles and put a splash back over the existing tiles in the shower. We kept the shower door and mirrors. The plan included a new toilet, however, we soon realised that they just don’t make them like they used to so we would be replacing a perfectly functioning, quality toilet with an inferior product. My only concern is the existing toilet does not have a dual flush. This can be over come with the age-old rule:

If it’s yellow let it mellow, if its brown flush it down.

 

 Audit Summary

Room for improvement:

  • Not reusing the bath
  • Not sourcing recycled or reclaimed products
  • Research into the sustainability and longevity of purchases (such as acrylic splash backs, tile paint) and considering the whole life cycle of the products we purchased (where they came from, what they’re made out of, eg. acrylic is a difficult plastic to recycle… more on this at a later date).
  • Purchasing a toilet new and not using it (we will pass it onto someone who does actually need a toilet)

Where we did well:

  • Painting old tiles and reusing the tiles that had to be moved
  • Retaining the shower door and head, mirrors, floor and toilet
  • Recycling any materials we could

Did we have to do the reno? No. But we’re happy that we did and no longer have to bathe in the same vessel as black water. We’re really proud of how little waste was created in comparison to our kitchen renovation and we’ll think really hard about any other updates we make to the apartment. We’ll take into consideration if they’re necessary or just for aesthetics, and if they are crucial can we source the item secondhand.

Thanks so much for reading my first blog! I’ve hardly written more than a text message in 18 months so it’s copped a fair share of edits. I hope you stay tuned to see what else crops up during this audit, I’m excited to be sharing it!

Cheerio for now,

Sam

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