I write this article accompanied by the clamour of building work blasting from every direction. Spring is here and so are the home improvements - scaffolding has appeared over the road and a skip outside my neighbour’s house accompanies a team of builders as the renovation projects begin. From my own back yard comes the monotone hum of a sander on wooden cladding - our own restoration project in dire need of repair and a fresh coat of paint. We are all at it, inside and out, with the hope that the mess we make will eventually be worth the time, money and effort we expend, enriching our surroundings and quality of life.
But where does the mess go? What happens to the building rubble and rejected old kitchens, bathrooms and general homewares? Can you imagine the amount that would end up in landfill if there weren’t any other facilities in place to deal with our rubbish? Thankfully there are ways to recycle as much of our building waste as possible. We all know about our weekly collections for food, glass, tin and plastic but I worry that less is known about ways to reduce building waste.
It is my responsibility to try and reduce the amount of waste my profession makes. So, if you are planning a renovation project this spring and feel the same, help is available. The ‘Dorsetforyou’ website has a section entitled Bulky Waste Collection with information on how to dispose of building waste. If you are employing builders, check that they are registered waste carriers as the rubbish you’ve handed to someone else is legally your responsibility until it is correctly disposed of. The site provides details of local household recycling centres and there is a link to Dorset Reclaim, who encourage reuse and recycling and who will collect your unwanted items to supply low-income families with discounted furniture.
When undertaking a project which is likely to produce a large amount of waste that cannot be taken to the tip - or which will be charged for if you do - it’s best to plan and budget for its disposal at an early stage. Skips are a good idea when undertaking large projects. If you are hiring a skip, check the company’s environmental policies to ensure they recycle as much as possible.
If you are replacing a kitchen that is still in good working order you can sell it through ‘The Used Kitchen Exchange’ who work in a similar way to an estate agent, advertising kitchens on behalf of sellers. Gumtree is a free classified ad website for buying and selling, great for making a bit of cash to boost your build budget, and Jurassic Reclamation in Bridport buy a range of interior and exterior items.
When it comes to furnishing a property, before buying all new consider buying second-hand, or look at what you already have and see if it can be improved. The picture shows a fantastic example of this: a curvaceous, vintage dressing table revamped by Sarah Parmenter of RelovedMCR. Using wallpaper by Anna Hayman, the legacy of this beautifully designed piece remains preserved with a modern twist. I agree with the expression, ‘They don’t make ‘em like they used to’, and there is a lot of what I call ‘fast furniture’ out there; it might be cheap but, due to the poor-quality materials used, it won’t last long and will inevitably end up in landfill. If commissioning a well-made piece of furniture from a professional is out of your budget, Bridport is full of outlets selling good-quality vintage pieces that will add character to any space. If purchases are in need of some work, this provides the perfect opportunity to get creative, experimenting with paint, fabric and wallpaper to create a one-off piece that no-one else will have.
As consumers, we hold the power to choose suppliers with ethical credentials, forcing other less conscientious businesses to follow suit. For example, I love it when I receive my product samples in biodegradable packaging, and I am more likely to continue working with these companies if they are open about how they are working to reduce their impact on the environment.
It is obvious that we need to make more of an effort to respect and protect this beautiful planet we are privileged to call home. The information we hear on a daily basis can be conflicting and overwhelming but one thing we can do in our own small world is make an effort with all our waste, and together we will make a difference.
Published in the May 2019 edition of Bridport Times magazine: bridporttimes.co.uk