Try to guess what the number 3,300 has to do with my kitchen renovation:
- The number of times my brain was jarred as a nailing machine attached new hardwood flooring.
- The number of trips we’ve made to Lowe’s and Home Depot since starting our project June 6.
- The pounds of debris we’ve taken to the city landfill after tearing out three layers of old flooring and drywall.
I wish I could say none of the above, but the correct answer is No. 3.
So much for feeling guilty about using plastic grocery bags.
My husband has made two trips to the landfill in his pickup truck. He paid $66.40 to dump those 3,300 pounds. He described a malodorous, apocalyptic landscape with a steady line of municipal trucks dumping load after load after load.
Americans average 4.3 pounds of garbage per day, says the Duke University Center for Sustainability & Commerce.
Doing the math, I figure that in only two weeks we’ve generated a year’s worth of trash. (4.3 pounds times 2 people is 8.6, and 8.6 times 365 days is 3,139 pounds).
The worst is over, but we’re still generating stuff to throw away.
For instance, I’m trying to select cabinet hardware and backsplash tile. The small samples I order online come in boxes that seem comically large. Our new appliances and cabinets will come in boxes as well.
Still, we were already faithful recyclers and we’ve tried to hold down the trash volume. We sold our kitchen table and chairs and our old cabinets. We gave away our old appliances.
One more thing. I don’t think I’ll get any argument out of my spouse in vowing never to do this again.
We are 62 and 67 and hope to stay in this house of about 2,000 square feet for another 20 years. As we’ve made choices for the new kitchen, I’ve kept that in mind.
When I’m 80, those pullout trays in the pantry cabinet and under the island should help. Hardwood flooring will be easier than tile on aging legs. And it will be easier to keep clean.
The new refrigerator will be larger, which only seems like a contradiction. It will be more energy efficient than the old one, and the freezer is at the bottom so the section we use most won’t require us to bend down. Best of all, it may eliminate the need for the freezer and small beverage fridge in the basement.
New can lights in the ceiling as well as under-cabinet lights may keep me chopping onions safely into my dotage.
So, yes, this project is having an environmental impact I didn’t consider through the months of planning. That’s the negative.
The positive is the improved function of a beloved house in a wonderful neighborhood for a couple of aging baby boomers.