Tag Archive for recycling

3 Steps to a Lead-Free Bathtub

After discovering that the 1960’s avocado-green bathtub had lead in the finish, it was time to decide whether to replace or reglaze it. Time and resources being key, the process took 3 steps:

1. Reglaze or replace? Re-glazing would mean less waste (ie no bathtubs filling up landfills). In considering a new tub, the cost of removal and installation was prohibitive for this project’s budget. Additionally, one of our blog readers found that when shopping for a new tub, none of the large manufacturers would certify their tubs as lead-free. One company even wrote him back to say their tubs still use lead in the glaze. This is an area where bathtub manufacturers need more transparency. So, I decided to go the reglaze route.

2. I asked the re-glazing company for the names of the products they use, and contacted that manufacturer, which confirmed they are lead-free. I also requested the company email the MSDS (Material Safety Data Sheet) of the products, which verify in writing that the primer and finish enamel don’t contain lead.

3. To prepare for the job, I sectioned off the area with plastic sheeting over the doorways after removing items from the work space, and took other steps per EPA home remodeling guidelines. The guidelines are created for DIYers, so they’re fairly easy, and save on cleanup time. Following the EPA steps are perhaps the most important part of any project to ensure the rest of the home stays clean and free of dust. It’s up to the homeowner to take these steps unless the contracting firm has EPA lead-safe certification. Legal requirements apply depending on the job, so it’s always best to check the EPA website for the latest rules.

The resurfacing contractor explained tubs today are not made of the quality produced decades ago. For this project, the avocado-green bathtub went from old and dingy to brand-new white. The re-glazing process delivered a like-new tub in under two hours. It was a cost-effective, quick way to recycle and renew in this bathroom.

Buying Recycled: Twice as Nice

While picking materials for the Healthy Home Project, I’ve discovered a jewel in Fairfield, NJ: Green Demolitions. The store is a non-profit selling gently-used building products that would otherwise get tossed during a renovation. The showroom is expansive, and stocks everything from gourmet kitchens to lighting, furniture and bath fixtures. Proceeds support two drug and alcohol rehab programs in the area.

The store employs a small army of experts who help customers plan how to use their products in a new space.  Contractors and homeowners donate cabinetry, furnishings and fixtures in exchange for a tax donation receipt. The concept of “recycling luxury” fits just right.  I bought eight light fixtures in my first trip, and have been back numerous times, netting everything from air conditioners to custom drapes. I didn’t find the window shutters or screen door I was hoping for, so it’s essential to stay flexible when shopping this way.  It’s hit or miss, but most of the time it’s a home run at half the price of retail. 

Habitat for Humanity has similar stores called “ReStores” around the country:

Habitat for Humanity ReStores are nonprofit home improvement stores and donation centers that sell new and gently used furniture, home accessories, building materials, and appliances to the public at a fraction of the retail price.  Habitat for Humanity ReStores are proudly owned and operated by local Habitat for Humanity affiliates, and proceeds are used to build homes, community, and hope locally and around the world. 

At places like this, it’s best to have all measurements on hand as Green Demolitions doesn’t allow returns except a few days’ allowance on appliances. Make sure it’s what you’re looking for, and take photos of items if needed.  On a busy Saturday, I was advised at Green Demolitions to remove the sale tags from items I wanted, or point them out to a salesperson to ensure they’re not taken by another customer. Most items are one-of-a-kind, and things can get kind of competitive when there are several customers vying for the same item. Happy shopping!

Help with Household Hazards

It’s just like those creepy tales of childhood about what might be lurking down in the old, dark basement…The picture here tells a thousand tales of flaking paint, old tires, paint cans a-plenty and the pipe with duct tape around it like a much-needed bandage.

I’ve hauled up the tires to the front porch, along with at least a dozen paint cans.  One thing typical of basements is the hazardous chemicals stored in them, from old paints and stains to lawn pesticides, to toxic cleaning products. According to the EPA, the typical home generates about 30 pounds (about the weight of a medium-sized dog) of household hazardous waste (HHW) every year, for an annual total of about 1.6 million tons nationally.

With the tires and paint cans corraled on the front porch, I’ll wait for the county’s Hazardous Waste Collection Day, when they can be dropped off for safe disposal.  Most counties list these collection events, which are usually free to residents, on their websites.  They’re a healthier solution than allowing these toxic household chemicals to sit around, where a child or teen could come into contact with them, or pollute the waterways when dumped down the sink. The EPA has more ideas, including recycling options for HHW, on their website.

Of course, the best solution is to avoid buying toxic products in the first place, so our homes are always healthier and we have that much less to haul up from the basement.