This story is part of Earth911's "Green Eight" series, which showcases eight ways to green your life in various areas.
Getting ready to start a new do-it-yourself (DIY) project around the house? Anytime is a great time to refresh some old furniture, fix your dryer (after all, it's been making that weird sound for at least a few weeks now), put new oil in your car and make a new sweater for little Chloe, your Pekingese.
Whether you're a pro or novice DIYer, there are a few things you should know before you start, especially if you want to do your projects the eco-friendly way. Here are 8 ways to make sure your home fixes tread lightly on the planet:
Look Online for Ideas
The Internet is chock-full of projects for any level of DIYer. Sites like ReadyMade, Instructables and MAKE (this is a fun one if you're a techie at heart) have hundreds of ideas, blueprints, sketches, photos and videos to jump start your projects.
Another plus to looking online is that you can save money and paper by reducing your need to go out and buy a book or guide. If you have a phone with an Internet browser, you can simply read your instructions there, eliminating your need to print anything for your task as well.
Start Around the House
The best place to begin your search for the necessary ingredients for your projects is at home. Take boxes down from the top of your closet, open up the ever-ominous "junk drawer" in your desk and take stock of the resources you have at hand. This year, you're all about reuse, and reuse starts with, well, reusing what you already have. Plus, it saves you money and time by avoiding unnecessary trips to the store. Oh look! We found the glue gun!
Borrow From a Friend
If you have a project that requires a unique tool that you may not use often (will you really use a brick carrier or volt stick again?), or a material for which you only need a small amount, try borrowing from a friend or neighbor. After all, items which you may not use again will end up as a wasteful byproduct of your DIY ventures, collecting dust or getting trashed. Why bother, when you can borrow?
If you've heard us say it once, you've heard us say it again: thrift stores are excellent places to reuse stuff and save money. Old dresses make comfy couch pillows, plain photo frames are easily bedazzled and a run-down chair looks great with a new coat of low-VOC paint.
If there aren't any Goodwills or similar stores in your area, consignment shops are great places to find the pieces you need for your next DIY.
While many consider DIY projects to only include decorative fixes, home repairs fall under this umbrella as well. Fixing items yourself not only saves you money in parts and labor, but also helps you ensure the full life of your possessions.
The Fix it Club features information on fixing everything in your home from bicycles and espresso makers to smoke detectors and faucets, as well as diagrams and information on how everything works. Before you know it, you'll be a regular handyman (or woman).
D-I-Y During the D-A-Y
Being aware of you environmental impact doesn’t stop once you’ve gathered all the materials for your project. Keeping your working conditions as green as possible is important too. Try using natural light for free illumination, instead of lamps that consume energy. If you need power tools to work, make sure and unplug them as soon as you’re done, to avoid phantom drain. Also, if any of your equipment requires batteries, use rechargeables. That way you won’t go through a whole box of single-use batteries while you’re blasting AC/DC out in the garage.
No matter the size of the project, you’re bound to have leftover supplies from your adventures. If you have enough to use again, carefully store your stuff for the next day you catch the DIY bug. Also, if your friends are inspired to try the same project as you (see below), they’ll probably appreciate a head start on their shopping. If you can’t reuse your leftovers, be sure to recycle what you can. Even the smallest bits of cardboard, metal, wood, etc., deserve a second chance to become something new.
Once you’re done, share your triumphs with family and friends. You may not only inspire your loved ones to do their own green projects, but you’ll also have a chance to see the results of your hard work. Posting photos online with your own hints and tips will also help keep your reuse karma flowing and give you an opportunity to share your eco-friendly projects with a wider audience.
What's your go-to way to green your DIY projects? Share them below!