Everyone has been told from a young age to reduce, reuse, and recycle. When it comes to our job sites and custom houses, we like to take things a little bit further.

Reduce: We like to be able to reduce materials that are used. Obviously, reducing the square footage is the best way to do that. Smaller homes that are built with a great floor plan are just as functional as a large home with unused rooms. Also, a smaller home that is built right and tight is going to have less impact on the environment. When materials like Structural Insulated Panels (SIPs) or Expanded Polystyrene (EPS) with less volatile organic compounds are used, it makes for a much healthier home. Adding in a whole house air exchanger provides fresh air all the time.

Natural Materials: Choose products that are natural! Natural materials can last a lifetime. By choosing a natural wood floor or custom cabinets, they will not need to be replaced in a few years. Custom wood cabinetry can last 50+ years. Many people are partial to the look of natural granite or quartz and choose it for the countertops. Using natural materials never goes out of style. Don’t be afraid to mix materials. This will create a warm unique environment that will last a lifetime.

Recycle: Select products that can be recycled. Structural Insulated Panels and OSB products are 100% recyclable. By choosing to use these products, lumber usage is decreased by 77%. Drywall can also be recycled. Drywall contains boron, which is a plant nutrient. Landscapers use it to mix in with soil, providing plants with nutrient rich food. Roofing shingles create 11 million tons of waste every year. Why not recycle them to help with pavement projects such as filling potholes? Considering another use for building materials can dramatically decrease the debris that goes into a landfill, either now or in the future.

Alternative: Some materials such as glass and paper are able to be recycled. These products can make remarkable alternative pieces just by thinking out of the box. There are countertops made of paper stone. These products are an alternative option, opposed to the usual granite or quartz. The countertops have a unique beauty to them. Since they are all recycled, making the environmental impact lower.

Reuse: When remodeling, take useable building materials to a donation center. Nonprofits, such as the Restore (https://milwaukeerestore.org/) will gladly accept gently used materials. By doing this, it saves these materials from a landfill.  If something is able to be reused, why throw it away? Something we like to do at PEA Builders is to reuse our pallets to make customized walls or doors. This creates an exclusive look as well as reusing something that is still in good shape. We choose to be good stewards of what we have been given.

It takes little effort to make a difference… Consider the three Rs: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.