By Mark Caserta
Recently, after 7 wonderful years living in Park Slope, Samantha and I moved into a house in Bay Ridge. While we were sad to leave the Slope, we were happy to gain more space for our two-year old son, Jake, and excited about the opportunity to renovate and decorate the home using some of the eco-friendly products we sell and/or are familiar with. Sure, some of these projects will be purely decorative, but with a green twist. Many of the projects we have tackled so far, though, have served a much more important purpose: ensuring that our home is safe and clean for Jake. Here are some simple steps we have taken so far:
- Cleaning: the first thing we did when we took possession of our home was to clean, clean, clean. We used only all-natural/biodegradable cleaning products from Mrs. Meyers and Natural Choices. There are lots of other options out there, but we sell these products in our stores and online, so they are easy for us to get. We also recycled a lot of the old carpets with a company in New Jersey and the remaining carpet was cleaned by an eco-friendly carpet cleaner. Hey, who knows what chemcials were used in this house? We might as well start our lives off in our new home in the greenest, freshest way possible!
- Painting: almost every older home in New York City contains lead paint. Much of it is hidden under layers and layers of safer paint, but it's there, nonetheless. When paint peels and chips and falls to the floor, the lead is exposed and a home can become a dangerous place for a small child. Some facts on lead poisening are available from the EPA here. If you aren't familiar with the dangers, please read up on them! We are trying hard to cover any peeling paint in the house and we are in the middle of priming and painting every room in the house with eco-friendly, low-VOC paints from Benjamin Moore. That way, we can cover the lead with paint that doesn't further add to the toxicity of our home.
- Refinishing Floors: Whether he tries to, or not, Jake spends much of his time on the floor. Therefore, it was important to us to make sure that our wood floors were as safe and chemical-free as possible. We had our floors refinished with a water-based finish, rather than a more volatile, oil-based coating. The smell from the coating was negligible and the floors look just as shiny and new as they would using the old-fashioned oil coatings. We also added some padding to Jake's bedroom using modular rug squares from Flor. They are colorful, stylish and eco-friendly, which is more than you can say for most rugs.
While we have made some progress, there is still a lot of greening to do! Luckily, this is where the fun begins. If you have any questions, feel free to contact me at email@example.com. If you are interested, I have been posting photos of our work on Flickr. Feel free to take a look!
Mark Caserta has over 10 years of experience in environmental policy and politics. In 2004, he opened an eco-friendly home and lifestyle store in Park Slope, Brooklyn known as 3r Living, with his wife Samantha.
Their products are carefully selected with the principles of reducing waste, reusing unwanted or discarded materials, and recycling in mind. Reduce. Reuse. Recycle. 3r. Mark is also a regular contributor to Hip Slope Mama.