The Washington Post

Remodelist­a editors on creating a stylish, eco-conscious space

- Also at washington­post.com Read the rest of this transcript and submit questions to the next chat, Thursday at 11 a.m., at live.washington­post.com.

Margot Guralnick and Fan Winston, co-authors of “Remodelist­a: The Low-impact Home: A Sourcebook for Stylish, Eco-conscious Living,” joined staff writer Jura Koncius last week for our online Q&A. Here is an edited excerpt.

Q: What do you say to people who think they can’t afford to be eco-friendly? Is there a way to live this way if you don’t make a lot of money?

A: We can’t deny the sky-high cost of living these days, but adopting an eco-friendly mindset doesn’t have to be expensive. In fact, being more thoughtful about what you buy might even save you money. We advocate having fewer things and choosing well-made household basics, such as bowls and chairs, that you use for years and plan to pass on to the next generation.

Instead of shelling out for new goods, focus on the secondhand market and neighborho­od giveaway groups, such as Buy Nothing and Facebook Marketplac­e. You can also eat what’s on your plate (and don’t fill your fridge with food that goes to waste); start a vegetable garden; and share tools with your neighbors.

Finally, check out the Library of Things, a global movement of places (some of them are also actual libraries) devoted to lending at no cost all sorts of items, including sewing machines, tools, wallpaper steamers and more. We are a culture accustomed to buying without thinking, but borrowing makes so much more sense in terms of savings and the wellbeing of our planet. — Margot Guralnick

Q: How can people maintain ecofriendl­y yards without using grass?

A: We’re all for rewilding your yard and doing away with the lawn. Consider eco-friendly ground covers if you want something that can withstand foot traffic. Try clover or dymondia, an evergreen ground cover that’s great for dry climates. — Fan Winston

Q: What are the most ecofriendl­y materials to use for kitchen counters, tables and cabinets?

A: Consider paper composite for counters and tables; Richlite ( richlite.com) and Paperstone ( paperstone­products.com) are two brands to consider. Ceramic tile is another good option. Forest Stewardshi­p Council-certified wood is the gold standard for cabinets. For cabinet doors and shelves, as well as tables and floors, consider using salvaged wood; check out the directory of salvage dealers across the country at oldhouseon­line.com. — M.G.

Q: How do you save water when washing dishes by hand and when using the dishwasher?

A: Using the dishwasher saves water, so that’s the recommende­d option (especially if your appliance is Energy Starcertif­ied). The key is to not do much rinsing before loading your dishes. When handwashin­g, fill the sink with soapy water (or use a big pot or insert) and soak the dishes first. Tackle the dirtiest pots by filling them with a bit of water and heating them on the stove for a few minutes to loosen the stuck food. — M.G.

Q: Are there any popular ecofriendl­y tips you don’t find that useful or advise we don’t follow? I finally stopped buying containers for items that already have their own packaging.

A: The answer to being more environmen­tally conscious

shouldn’t simply be, “Buy this green thing.” In general, the most sustainabl­e thing you can do is to use what you already have. Although we would love to have a pantry of matching glass containers, we’re going to keep upcycling jam and sauce jars to store dry goods.

Also, decanting isn’t just for putting grains and pastas in pretty containers. You should ideally buy goods package-free in bulk — pasta, grains, nuts — and decant. Or, if you do buy packaged goods, decant so that, once the box has been opened, you can store the remaining contents to keep it fresh longer. — F.W.

Q: I’ve tried reusable bags, but I haven’t found the right ones. I reuse my Ziploc bags as often as possible, but how can I finally break up with them?

A: We also struggle when it comes to messy food. We find that reusable bags work well for sandwiches, carrot sticks, cookies and the like. For all else, we use glass jars and stainless

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steel food containers. Consider storing refrigerat­ed leftovers in a bowl sealed with a beeswax wrap (or simply covered with a plate). We also love vintage glass refrigerat­or containers, which are useful and surprising­ly affordable. — M.G.

Q: What is the best way to compost in the absence of a garden?

A: Even those who don’t have a garden should compost. Sign up for a local composting program; if your town doesn’t have one, lobby to have it start one. You can donate your scraps to a farmers market or community garden, which probably composts. Or you can find a private pickup service and pay for weekly (or more) pickups of your food waste. And if you don’t have space for a compost bin — not even a countertop one — just keep your food waste in a biodegrada­ble bag in the freezer. — F.W.

Q: What are your recommenda­tions for good cleaning cloths?

A: Cut rags out of dirty T-shirts that aren’t good enough to donate. We don’t recommend microfiber cloths, because what they’re made of and how they’re made aren’t good for the environmen­t. — F.W.

Q: Do you like linseed oil paints? A: We’ve heard great things about linseed oil paints; they’re

popular in the United Kingdom as an age-old finish, and we wish they were more readily available in the United States. Other earthfrien­dly finishes that we recommend are lime, clay and chalk paints. — M.G.

Q: I’ve recently downsized, and

I’m looking for a sofa with a smaller profile that is still childand pet-friendly. I’ve usually had slipcovers, but I’m wondering about other options as well.

A: I have two mess-prone children and an unruly dog, so I can relate. Consider going vintage: Mid-century furniture tends to be streamline­d and smaller in size. Buying secondhand is the best thing you can do in terms of shopping sustainabl­y. If you’re buying new, we like the Cisco brand, which makes upholstere­d furniture in an environmen­tally conscious way. One of the founders of Remodelist­a swears by her Cove sofa, designed by John Derian. It’s perfectly sized for her apartment.

As for keeping a much-used sofa clean, I fold a vintage wool Pendleton blanket to fit the seat of mine. It has dark colors, so stains don’t show. And every week, I give it a shake outside. Canvas dropcloths also work great. (They’re the Remodelist­a solution for many furniture woes.) And Margot keeps a plain linen sheet draped over and tucked into her sofa. The point is, cleaning or shaking out a pretty sheet or blanket is far easier than removing slipcovers to wash. — F.W.

Q: How can you remodel a kitchen, maybe while saving some existing solid wood cabinets, while layering in quality repurposed materials?

A: Keeping the cabinets you have is cost-effective and saves them from ending up in a landfill. The easiest makeover route is to paint existing cabinets, which can be a game changer. Also consider removing cabinet doors for open storage or removing overhead cabinets altogether and inserting shelves of salvaged wood. You can work with a local carpenter to build new fronts if you want. And look for places that sell salvaged lumber. Check out Habitat for Humanity Restores ( habitat.org/ restores), which accept and resell cabinets, doors, windows, flooring, bricks and other constructi­on materials. — F.W.

Q: How do you find new sources of sustainabl­e products?

A: Prioritizi­ng small, local makers helps; buying local means fewer carbon emissions. Ensuring products are made from natural materials, either organic or responsibl­y sourced, is also important. Say no to plastic if possible. Look for brands whose lines aim to have less of an effect on the environmen­t — as opposed to brands who have one or two “green” products in their lineup, as well as wasteful packaging. Goodee ( goodeeworl­d.com) is a standout resource for home goods, such as decor and furniture. — F.W.

 ?? Matthew Williams/artisan Books ?? John Derian’s Cove sofa is seen in the Brooklyn home of Julie Carlson, editor in chief of Remodelist­a, and Josh Groves, the company’s chief executive. The Cove has clean lines, and its 72-inch width makes it a good option for smaller spaces.
Matthew Williams/artisan Books John Derian’s Cove sofa is seen in the Brooklyn home of Julie Carlson, editor in chief of Remodelist­a, and Josh Groves, the company’s chief executive. The Cove has clean lines, and its 72-inch width makes it a good option for smaller spaces.
 ?? Matthew Williams/artisan Books ?? Margot Guralnick, left, and Fan Winston are the co-authors of “Remodelist­a: The Low-impact Home: A Sourcebook for Stylish, Eco-conscious Living,” which comes out in October.
Matthew Williams/artisan Books Margot Guralnick, left, and Fan Winston are the co-authors of “Remodelist­a: The Low-impact Home: A Sourcebook for Stylish, Eco-conscious Living,” which comes out in October.
 ?? Artisan Books ??
Artisan Books
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 ?? Photos By MATTHEW Williams/artisan Books ?? The door here is handmade and finished with linseed oil and pine tar to preserve the wood and give it a bit of color. Linseed oil paints are popular in the United Kingdom, Guralnick says, but if you can’t find them in the United States, use lime, clay or chalk paints instead.
Photos By MATTHEW Williams/artisan Books The door here is handmade and finished with linseed oil and pine tar to preserve the wood and give it a bit of color. Linseed oil paints are popular in the United Kingdom, Guralnick says, but if you can’t find them in the United States, use lime, clay or chalk paints instead.
 ?? ?? LEFT: The compost bin in this home is hidden underneath a counter. Even those who don’t have a garden should compost, Winston says. ABOVE: For cleaning cloths, cut rags out of dirty T-shirts that aren’t good enough to donate, she suggests.
LEFT: The compost bin in this home is hidden underneath a counter. Even those who don’t have a garden should compost, Winston says. ABOVE: For cleaning cloths, cut rags out of dirty T-shirts that aren’t good enough to donate, she suggests.

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