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Using Repurposed/Recycled Materials in Your Green Toronto Home

150 150 Nisha Muire

When it comes to green home construction or renovation, there are a number of innovative ways to lower your building’s footprint. Using recycled, reclaimed or repurposed materials is among the best ideas. Not only is it an eco-friendly way of using up materials that would otherwise end up in landfill but, in many instances, the materials themselves are more robust and durable that regular construction materials. Here we will look at a few of the most commonly recycled/repurposed/reused materials – and as we are not experts ourselves, we have included links to articles that discuss each material more in-depth.

Reclaimed/recycled, low-grade timber is a good place to start. It is much less expensive than finished wood, but it is just as effective in construction projects. There is an excellent article over here //bit.ly/1Jy1PN2 that talks about using reclaimed wood in your home.

Tires filled with earth or sand are actually one of the best materials around for creating sturdy walls that also help insulate a home very well. The science behind the use of tires is discussed in depth over here //bit.ly/1JOPz7t. Tires can also be used as flower boxes in your garden.

Shipping Containers
Shipping containers have emerged as a viable alternative to traditional framing. The actual container can be used as is or modified for a larger structure incorporating various green-home technologies. Wikipedia has a very good overview of how shipping containers can be used to build a home. You can read more about it over here //bit.ly/1bar5Kf.

Tin Cans and Plastic/Glass bottles
Other materials that make excellent interior walls are storage cans and/or plastic/glass bottles, such as wine bottles. The cans and bottles are great as non-structural walls and are usually plastered over with either plaster or concrete depending on if they are interior or exterior walls. Bottles have the added benefit of filtering light into the rooms and throwing a lovely rainbow of colours on the walls depending on the colours used. Wikipedia gets detailed with the explanation over here //bit.ly/1P32YKE.

For the Interior

The actual fittings inside your home can also be made from recycled items including sinks, bathtubs, door knobs, etc… Depending on your inclination, your style and your budget, the possibilities of using recycled and reclaimed items in your home are endless. As long as you approach your project holistically and you take into consideration your building site, your local climate, your neighbourhood’s constraints and any local by-laws governing construction, the sky really is the limit.

Water Saving Features for your Green Toronto Home

150 150 Nisha Muire

We tend to believe that water flows in abundance and, in our homes, we generally use more than necessary given the seemingly endless supply. However, with drought affecting many communities globally and water pollution on the rise, more communities are installing water meters to charge residents for their water consumption. In the following article we will cover strategies for keeping your water consumption down.

Water is one of those elements that can easily contribute to the greening of your home. There are some very simple ways that can you cut down on the amount of water that you use. Among the easier ways to lower your water consumption are:

– Don’t let water run when brushing your teeth or soaping up your hands
– Wash vegetables in a bowl, then use the water for your houseplants
– Keep a pitcher of water in the fridge to cool – it eliminates having to run the water to get it cold
– Only do laundry or run the dishwasher when you have a full load
– Don’t flush tissues down the toilet – either compost them or throw them away

If you are more serious about water conservation, then here is a list of things you can change around your home:

– Install low-flush toilets
– Install optimized-flow shower heads
– Install a tankless hot water heater
– Install flow restrictors on all taps

Doing a little maintenance is also necessary to make sure that the water in your home is being used efficiently.

– Change old washers in your taps to prevent leaks
– Protect pipes from freezing in cold weather – it might require adding insulation to exterior walls
– Fix any leaks that you currently have

For those of you who are interested in doing even more to save water, here are some more advanced ideas.

– Collect rainwater to use in watering the garden and washing cars/patio furniture
– Install a water treatment system to reuse wastewater for non-potable applications

There are many things we can do to green up our homes – cutting down on our water consumption is one of the easiest.

It’s Earth Month – A Look at Green Initiatives

150 150 Nisha Muire

April is earth month! The eco-home movement is growing steadily and greater numbers of homeowners are curious about what “green” means, how they can lower their home’s footprint and how they can start down a green path in a manner that will not significantly impact their daily lives.

What does “Green” mean?

The term “green” is typically used to encompass any initiative aimed at reducing waste of any kind and to lowering one’s footprint. Whether it is a reduction in consumer waste, energy expenditure or the use of toxic products in your daily routine, green covers it all.

Where to start

If you aren’t already immersed in green living, from the outside looking in it can seem daunting. A newbie to the eco-movement might wonder where to start when it comes to reducing their waste and energy consumption and to ridding their home of toxic chemicals. Baby steps is really the best way to start. If you begin by changing small things in your routine, then it will be easier to slowly move to the larger items.

The three Rs – Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

The old adage every schoolchild is taught is entirely applicable in this context. Begin your green home makeover by reducing your consumption, reusing what you do have for as long as possible and recycling all the items that can be recycled.

To Reduce Consumption

One of the best ways to reduce your consumption footprint is to buy in bulk or to buy products that are unbundled, thereby reducing the amount of packaging going into your recycling bin or garbage. Making large quantity purchases also cuts down on the number of times you have to drive to the store, further reducing your emissions footprint.


The word is really self-explanatory – reuse everything that can be reused. From clothing, to shoes, to plastic bags, to water – if you can reuse then do so! Here are some ideas:

Use rain barrels to capture rainwater to use when watering the garden or your house plants
Wash, dry and reuse plastic baggies for lunches, snacks or storing items. Better yet, use glass, tin or plastic containers instead.
Buy classic cuts of clothing that won’t go out of style and wear them out – then turn them into something else or give them to the thrift store so that they go on to live some more!


Again here, the sky’s the limit with what you can do to recycle items. Old tires can be turned into attractive flower containers, tin cans make great bird feeders and empty laundry detergent bottles can be turned in sturdy scoopers to use in the garden. Do a simple internet search for “recycling ideas” and you’ll get a plethora of easy and awesome ideas to follow.

On a simpler note, merely getting a large recycling bin and putting all recyclable materials into it for city pick up is the easiest way to recycle. Composting kitchen waste is another great recycling idea.

Energy Efficiency

Ensuring that your home is energy efficient is another way to make a big eco-impact. Here are some ideas for reducing your energy consumption.

– Install programmable thermostats
– Cut down on dishwasher and dryer use by letting dishes and clothes air dry
– Turn lights and small appliances off when not in use
– Shower instead of soaking in a tub
– Stop any leaks around windows and doors – changing them if necessary
– Increase the insulation in your attic
– Open blinds in the winter to warm up your home passively and close blinds in the summer to cool your home passively

Reduce Your Toxic Footprint

Reducing the number of toxins in your home can be as simple as replacing all of your cleaning products with natural products that are chemical free. In fact, making your own using simple vinegar and baking soda is the easiest way to go!

Being green doesn’t mean having to install solar panels on your roof or switching to an electric car – although you can certainly do that as well! As long as you take small steps in the right direction, you will be able to make a positive reduction in your home’s eco-footprint.

To read more about the incentives offered by the Ontario Ministry of Energy click here