One of the most basic mantras in green living is "reduce, reuse, recycle". Reduce the amount of stuff you use and waste you produce . Reuse as much as you can. Recycle what you can't reuse.
I've been doing my best on this project to do those things, as well as use green building techniques and materials where possible. But it's all relative. If I were really green, I wouldn't be building this addition in the first place, since it's taking gobs of resources relative to a lot of things in the world. Better than most building projects in the U.S., but far from perfect.
Even the green materials are relative. Take the bamboo flooring. It's great, right? We love it, it's durable, it's beautiful, and bamboo grows to a useable size in 3 to 5 years. It even uses low-VOC adhesives to glue the stalks together into a useful width for flooring. What's not to like? Well, for one thing, most of it used for flooring, cabinets, etc. in the U.S. is grown in China. Great, that's where it's native, right? Well, it takes resources to ship it half way around the world. At best it came into the Port of Oakland. Then it was shipped to EcoTimber in Hayward. Then it was shipped most of the way to our house in Oakland. Then hauled up the hill. There, I removed it from the cardboard boxes, and removed the foam insulation between alternate boards (to keep it from scuffing itself in transit), and nailed it into place.
And I got a reminder on the reduce, reuse, recycle mantra recently. From our neighbor's cat, Fritz, of all, er, people. A while back Edis and I hauled a bunch of non-recyclable stuff to the transfer station in Berkeley, and yesterday I moved the rest of the drywall into the dining room, so there's not mounds of stuff in the carport like there used to be. But there's still some junk there: an old tarp; some scraps of wood that have been re-used several times; some trimmings from various bushes in the yard. Fritz decided to forgo the 'recycle' step on some of the lumber scraps in favor of 'reuse'. Cats are pretty darn good at making themselves comfortable, so who can blame him?