Thursday, August 2, 2007

How to source local materials

For me, the most important thing to do when being sustainable, is to take advantage of local products and vendors. Using local materials not only reduces your ecologic footprint by minimizing transportation, it also stimulates the local economy.

Wood from Todd County, Minnesota

Here are some strategies for finding local building materials:

· Start by talking to people in the area, and ask a lot of questions. "Joe" from down the street might actually have a passion for making his own countertops from rocks in his cornfield, for example. Chances are that Joe probably knows someone too. Get the word out, and let people know what you're looking for.

· Talk to the local county economic developer to hone in on what local businesses and materials are available.

· Contact your local DNR and see what foresters are in the area (they might have wood on their own land to sell or can hook you up with local foresters).

· What were the old buildings made out of? Chances are whatever it is, it was probably local. Also, are there any buildings that need to come down that materials could be salvaged from? Does the local junkyard have any items that could be reused?

· Open the local phone book and look at the businesses. Are there local artisans that would be interest making something out of local materials? Buy something from a locally-manufactured plant instead of from a big box store. For example, there is a solar panel plant in Starbuck, MN, a high-efficiency boiler plant in Greenbush, MN, and Marvin Windows is also made in Minnesota. Also remember that just because a distributor is local it doesn’t mean the product is made locally.

· Check out sustainable materials, such as wood from sustainable forests. Minnesota has a lot of sustainably-managed forests. You can see if there is anyone local to your area by going here:

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