With the recent new housing slow down taking place across the nation as well as right here in Door County, many families are opting to stay put and do major remodels on their current homes instead of purchasing a new abode. With this decision comes a new dilemma, what to do with the old appliances, furniture, carpeting and other leftover remodeling scraps.

Once upon a time remodelers chose to turn their heads when the garbage company hauled away the refuse from a remodel. Today, more and more builders and designers are choosing to be more ecologically responsible in their choices – from opting to donate or dispose of old remodeling debris properly – to choosing building materials with green appeal.

Marilyn Jensen, owner of Sister Bay Trading Company, is a firm believer in the trend towards the proper disposal of demolition materials. “Here at Sister Bay Trading we are getting more and more requests from customers to recycle the home materials that we remove during a remodel,” said Jensen. “It is not only this push from our customers, but our own personal beliefs that have created the shift towards greater recycling efforts in our business.”

Most household items are repairable, donate-able, or recyclable. Remodelers should first consider donating household items in good condition to their favorite local charitable organization instead of calling the garbage company to come get them. It will save on hauling charges and others will benefit from their unwanted goods. Two local charities to try are Habitat for Humanity 920.839.9651 or Feed and Clothe My People 920.743.9053.

Selling unwanted furniture and appliances to local consignment stores such as Bargain Corner 920.743.7048, Bargains Unlimited 920.854.9669 or Second Showing 920.743.8866 is another option. Please call ahead to see if these consignment shops accept the item you wish to sell.

Unwanted and obsolete electronic equipment and appliances are one of the fastest growing waste streams. When discarded in landfills, these items not only lock up valuable reusable natural resources, they contain toxic chemicals that can contaminate soil and groundwater. It is illegal to dispose of televisions and computer monitors in the garbage. The cathode ray tubes (CRTs) contain lead and could contaminate water supplies. Wisconsin state law requires the recycling of clothes washers and dryers, dishwashers, air conditioners, stoves, ovens, microwave ovens, freezers, refrigerators, water heaters, furnaces, dehumidifiers, and boilers.

Wisconsin Public Service is taking steps to help consumers properly dispose of household appliances. Through their Appliance Recycling Program, current WPS customers may call the toll free number to schedule a pickup time for their unwanted appliance. WPS will come to your home and pick up items such as refrigerators, freezers, air conditioners or dehumidifiers free of charge and even give you a rebate check of up to $20 per item. To schedule a pick up time or for more information on this program call 866.706.3995.

Time to spruce up a room with color? Consider a solvent-free paint – they’re kinder on the environment and come in a wide range of colors. Another tip is to only buy as much paint as you need for the project and try to reuse leftover paint for future projects or pass on to a friend.

When it comes to flooring, there are many types produced from recycled or renewable materials that are becoming more widely available. Although used carpeting cannot be recycled, if it’s in good condition it can be sold in the classifieds section of your local paper, or donated to local charities. Many popular carpeting lines are now offering carpet made from partially recycled materials.

“Mohawk and Masland are two carpeting lines we carry at Sister Bay Trading Company that are taking positive steps toward creating new carpet products through the recycling of used materials,” added Jensen. “We also carry bamboo and cork flooring – both of which are renewable products, meaning that they are made with raw materials that renew themselves at a faster rate than traditional hard wood flooring.”

At a time when we are all becoming more conscientious of the disposal of our day-to-day items, we must not forget to continue these practices when remodeling our homes. Repurpose, recycle and purchase items that have been made of recycled materials or at the very least can be recycled themselves one day. Keep in mind while tackling your next remodel project, that a truly beautiful home is one that takes into account the health of our environment today and the future of the earth around us.