Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Planning and Doing a bathroom rehab

The GreenUP Challenge Blogger has been very busy doing a bathroom model rehab, and still trying to plan it at the same time!

Too much caulk to stop the leaksWe need to remodel the surround in the shower because the surround is old, cracked and leaks. There is a enough caulking to plug a Dutch dam. The really sad part is that the surround covers up Vitrolite tile, which can be seen surrounding the rest of our bathroom. Vitrolite is a glass tile that was popular in the 20's and 30's, when our house was constructed. It is a tile that can be waterproof, so my guess was that the shower was leaking when someone installed this atrocious tub surround.

Vitrolite is durable and can be waterproofed is maintained
When we removed the surround, we found that the tub was only tiled with Vitrolite half the way up. Back in 1928, it was just a bath tub, with no shower. I was extremely disappointed, for two reasons. One, my rehab would not be able to reuse old material, and two, this was going to affect my pocketbook.

**see the beautiful white and blue Vitrolite on the side, and covered with nasty old glue. Luckily, the glue scrapped off without a problem and without leaving any scratches.**

We called in the Vitrolite Specialist, Tim Dunn. This is the only guy I know that is an expert in restoring Vitrolite tiling. He travels the country restoring and salvaging this tile (as it is no longer manufactured). I am fortunate, because he happens to live in St. Louis! He is going to add Vitrolite from his 'stash' and regrout our bathroom so that it is not only beautiful but also waterproof again! So, my bath tub will be a green remodel, because we will be using salvaged Vitrolite.

I am happy with reusing salvaged tile, an my wallet is not completely empty, so I still have some money to put into the fixtures, toilet and vanity and countertop.... I am still searching for a toilet that will work in our space and a 'green' integrated sink and vanity options. I have found a decent shower plumbing set and several counter options... details in another post!



Sunday, October 12, 2008

Planning a bathroom rehab

The GreenUP Challenge Blogger has been very busy planning a bathroom rehab.

We have a small bathroom that has quite a few problems. The toilet uses a large amount of water and sometimes runs, the sink is damaged and rusty, and the shower surround leaks into the basement.

I hope to do a 'green' remodel job. The first component of this is trying to save and restore the vitrolite tile that makes up the original tub surround. Vitrolite is a semi-opaque glass tile that was popular before the Depression. It was used both inside homes and on the outsides of business. Our neighborhood here in St Louis is full of examples of both uses. Originally, the vitrolite above the tub was waterproof, however, without proper maintenance, it began to leak and was covered by a plastic surround many years ago. We are lucky to live in St Louis, as the man (who I believe) is the only one in the country who still works with vitrolite happens to live here. After we remove the surround and repair the sure-to-be-rotten boards behind the wall, he will come in and relay the vitrolite- waterproofed so that it can be exposed in the shower.

The 80-year-old tile floor needs scrubbed up while we have the vanity and toilet removed. The tub itself needs no repair, just new fiztures. Reusing old components in a rehab is an enivronmentally- friendly choice: reusing keeps the old materials out of the landfill and decreases the demand for new materials.

I am also busy shopping for a dual-flush toilet, a vanity made of renewable materials without organic adhesives, and a countertop with an integrated sink that is not made of plastic. I have found a few (very few) sources, and once I've decided I will write more detailed posts about these items.

Wish me luck in finding componenets and patience while our bathroom is all torn up!



Thursday, October 2, 2008

Challenge #24: Use old computer peripherals

Not as cool as the next galE-waste has proven to be large in volume, toxic, and its disposal is rife with corrupt practices. Computer tend to be like automobiles - a new one is 'needed' every few years. I hope to diffuse the idea that an average consumer of computer power needs the latest and greatest.

I retired my old PC about five years ago. Neither the hardware nor the software was performing well, and I started to use my husband's laptop in the evenings. After awhile though, we had to start scheduling evening computer time so that he could work and I could take care of the household management or surf the net.

I had the opportunity to buy a Mac G4 from the Mac support technician at my work site (his personal computer from home- he upgraded to a G5). I paid $100 for the tower, monitor, and keyboard. My 'new-to-me' computer is at least 8 or 9 years old now. Since the previous owner was a trained Mac repairman, he had updated the memory, some other hardware and had installed Mac OS 10.4. I have been using this computer for two or three years now. I rarely have any problems. Safari doesn't work well anymore, so I just installed FireFox, and I love it. I can surf high bandwidth sites with flash, music players, really anything. My computer has Microsoft Office, Adobe Creative Suite, ITunes, 1000s of pictures in IPhoto, and a couple of email clients. I work full-time at this computer.

The monitor was beginning to flicker, and I scored an old monitor when someone I knew updated their new computer (because, of course, new computers come together with new monitors, whether the old monitor is malfunctioning or not). Basically, I saved myself a ton of money and saved lots of perfectly good equipment from going into the landfill. Would a brand-new computer be faster? Probably, but would I even notice? The only complaint I have is that the new IPhoto is too new for my OS and the old one doesn't easily export to some web-based programs for printing photos. I can work around it though.

When I got this 'new' computer, I went down to the basement and dug out a few of my old PC peripherals. My old printer wouldn't connect to the Mac, so I bought an old printer from a friend who was moving for $40- along with an extra set of cartridges (score!). Currently, I am using 10-year-old computer speakers. One doesn't work anymore, so really I am using A 10-year-old computer speaker. Sounds okay to me. There is only one song in my ITunes that is really 'in stereo', and half of the instrumentation is lacking when it plays. I can only laugh when the song comes up.

Truth be told, new speakers are on my list for Santa this year. But before I can buy new ones, I have to find out how to properly dispose of these old speakers. I don't want them to end up in Africa where some kid will be exposed to toxic fumes as he burns away the plastic to recover a fraction of an ounce of precious metals.

That is E-ethics.

Dispose of e-waste responsiblyKeep up with software updates in order to extend the life of your computer and updates parts instead of systems.

Electronic waste pollutes the environment with heavy metals and toxic fumesfor anyone who properly e-recycles their old computers. I've got an old computer, two monitors, and two printers in my basement awaiting proper disposal. I have to find a trustworthy company to recycle these on-shore.