VIDEO: Affordable Eco Home Living: My Habitat for Humanity ReStore experience


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With my husband on the mend from an environmental illness and our move to an eco-aware neighborhood community, I have done extensive research on how to set up a non-toxic, safe and eco-home that is also attractive.

We recently moved into a 935 sq ft fixer-upper home and simplifying our life is a priority. Some people are downsizing voluntarily and at first we were reluctant about living in a smaller dwelling after a medical/financial challenge – but we are so happy we did.

We endured a health challenge that turned into financial challenge that turned into a housing challenge due to my husband no longer being able to work as dentist. It would take 3 doctors before it was found he was missing in a gene that didn’t clear toxins such as heavy metals (in his case mercury), pesticides, etc. He was occupationally exposed to mercury over his 25-year career. So setting up an eco-environmental safe and healing home is utmost on our minds. This also includes creaging a healthy home by using no VOC paint and non toxic furnishings. More about that in future posts.

During this challenges we left our rental of 1600 sq. ft. rental home, we sold most of our belongings and moved into our one of our last assets, a cargo van we slightly converted with a bed. For the next 2.5 years we slept in the van at night in a church parking lot, while my husband received medical care, in something called a safe parking program for those in housing and life transitions. Grateful now to be on the other side, our life continues to be a journey of courage, faith, persistence and love. One of things about life challenges is that if you keep asking yourself what is the life lesson or gift here you will often find one or more. We have found that a small dwelling can be beautiful – less to clean, furnish, care for financially and physically, which can give you more freedom to create the life for which your soul is yearning. Our intention is to repair and create our small home into an environmentally safe, healing and attractive.

So besides looking for items on Craigslist, home improvement type stores and garage sales, I decided to check out Habitat for Humanity’s ReStore.

Here is my ReStore experience. On the website the stores are described as having new and gently used furniture, home accessories, building materials and appliances. What each store carries can vary. It’s good to call the store ahead of time and ask if they have what you are looking for. In some major cities there might be 2 or three stores. When I call, I usually ask if this store is more building materials, ie: doors, tile, etc. or is it more furniture – household items. Some stores have equal amounts of both and some may have more furniture or more building materials. Each time I called or visit, I found the staff to be friendly and some are also volunteers working on the floor.

I was especially drawn to the words on the www.Habitat.org/ReStore website which says, “Good for you, your community and for your environment.” I think its great thing that when anyone donates something to the ReStore it not only keeps it out of a landfill, but also makes it possible for anyone to buy something pleasing at an affordable price. And according to their website, you are continuing to help others as proceeds from the stores are used to build homes, community and hope locally and around the world.

While Habitat for Humanity’s reach is international their ReStores are mainly located in Canada and the USA. You can go to www.Habitat.org/ReStore and enter your zip code to find one near you.

The first ReStore I ever went to was on an eco-travel journey to Canada. I had been given a scholarship for a workshop at a beautiful educational retreat called Hollyhock, which is in British Columbia. I had been holding the desire in my heart to go to an uplifting place to write and what a delightful gift to be able to get away from moving, unpacking and doing repairs on the house.

So my husband and I took our off-the-grid cargo van (no running water or kitchen) and made the two-day drive (and ferry trips). It was wonderful to finally use our van as a minimal recreational vehicle. In Canada I wrote, ate organic food and after the workshop was over we stayed at marinas and campgrounds that only charged 15 or 20 dollars a night. It was a healing and affordable way to travel, write and be in nature.

On the way back in Campbell Island, British Columbia, I saw a ReStore sign. I had been telling myself I wanted to check out a ReStore somewhere along our drive and there it was. So I listened to my intuition and we quickly stopped.

We walked around the ReStore and enjoyed talking to the friendly staff. There were desks, furniture, and building materials such as doors, windows, etc. and some furniture.

Just weeks prior before we left for our trip we were looking for bathroom light fixtures to replace old fluorescent lights that came with the house and that I also discovered are high in EMF ‘s (electromagnetic frequency radiation). The cost for two bathroom light fixtures at our local hardware store was around $120. We wished we could have bought them at our local home improvement center the previous month, however, that price wasn’t in our budget at the moment since we had some other major repairs in process. So we kept them on our wish list.

At this particular ReStore, we checked out the lighting area and found what we wanted! On the shelves were brand new lighting fixtures similar to the design we liked. Turns out they had been donated brand new from one of the major retail chains in the area. Best of all, the cost was 3 Canadian dollars each! (around $3 dollars U.S.). We were delighted and it felt like Christmas. Miracles do happen – when one sets an intention and listens to one’s own intuition to stop somewhere and to look around. On this trip the ReStore Angels were calling us!

bathroom lighting before and after photos

Before and after shots of our bathroom lighting.

Inspired by our purchase and first ReStore experience as we drove south to California (to get things out of storage), we continued to explore ReStores along the way looking for a dining room table. There were great ones, but if we had put them in the van we would have had no place to sleep! Best advice is find your local ReStore.

So when you are looking for something you need in your home think about a variety of outlets; From Habitat for Humanity ReStores, Craigslist, yard sales and your local home improvement and retail stores. You usually can find sales and when you first move into a new place you will receive coupons. And, whenever you are doing renovations, repairs, de-cluttering, etc., think about how you can help protect the environment instead of throwing scrap into the trash where it will end up in a landfill. Think about how you can recycle old materials; give it to someone who might enjoy it, donate it or sell it on Craigslist. Go eco and reap the benefits of a healthier you, a healthier environment and a healthier planet.




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