2. Buy sustainable lumber. It’s important to buy responsibly sourced lumber. A surefire way to know you’re doing so is to look for the FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) certification logo. This logo guarantees that the wood is from responsibly managed forests. Certain types of wood are also known for being sustainability sourced. And using reclaimed or recycled wood, sourced from a local salvage shop or a building-materials reseller like Habitat for Humanity’s ReStore, is a great way to ensure that wood isn’t wasted.
3. Measure twice, cut once. My mom taught me this in sewing, to avoid wasting fabric, but it’s just as important in woodworking. The more careful you are in measuring and cutting your pieces, the less you’ll waste materials.
4. Have a plan for the scraps. No matter how carefully you cut, you’ll inevitably end up with miscellaneous supplies: Odd scraps of lumber and random hardware. Rather than let these pile up in your basement or yard (ahem, sweet husband!) find someone who can put them to good use. Donate to a school that might be able to use these items in their woodshop, sell them or give them away through local sites like Craigslist or Freecycle, or let your kids use them to make a fort.
5. Explore low-VOC finishes. If you’ve ever experienced a headache or nausea while painting a bedroom or staining furniture, you’ve probably inhaled volatile organic compounds (VOCs). The consequence of inhaling these chemical compounds can be as minor as an irritated throat or, with prolonged exposure, as serious as organ damage or cancer. To avoid the risk, seek out nontoxic paints and stains, such as the choices sold online by Green Building Supply.
6. Dispose of paint responsibly. I’ve mentioned before how the shed behind my house was filled with old cans of paint that the previous owners thought were illegal to trash. Properly storing paint and stain you might use again will keep it from drying out in between uses. If you don’t plan to use any more of a paint or a stain, try to donate it. As a last resort, make sure to take precautions when disposing of paint so that it won’t contaminate soil or water supplies.