Tread Lightly

Following on from our discussion of energy efficiency in houses, we wanted to highlight a few examples of salvaging and recycling materials that we've made common practice. Restoring an old house is the largest single act of recycling most of us are ever likely to do, but there is much more that can be done, whether you're building new or saving an old house. Old doors and windows are made of much higher-grade material than the majority of the junk out there today and we routinely refurbish and reuse them, albeit with top quality weatherstripping added. Wood flooring, both hardwood and soft, is becoming widely available at architectural salvage yards and adds instant character to a space. Historic light fixtures, door and window hardware, cast-iron clawfoot bathtubs, pedestal sinks, heat registers - you name it, we either already have it or know where to get it. Not only are you saving material from ending up in the landfill, you're also getting a high-quality product with charm and a story to tell into the bargain.

We had the opportunity to do a more unusual bit of recycling this September. For our annual community voluntarism we had decided to contribute a shelter for the newly-built Lunenburg Dog Park. While waiting for the park to be cleared and fenced we happened to hear of some friends who had removed partition walls in their 160 year-old barn and this sparked an idea.  They kindly agreed to donate their beautiful hemlock timbers and sheathing boards to the project and we erected probably one of the smallest timber-frame structures ever built. But it sure beats your typical asphalt-roofed and pressure-treated carport, doesn't it? An inscription on a summer beam just above eye-level reads: "Caspar Feener, Wentzell Lake, 1855".  We think a hardy pioneer like that would have expected no less of his descendants!