JeffCo H2O:Fixer Upper Downer

Updating your home can be an exciting and worthwhile endeavor.  When the work is done and you are admiring the results, it’s easy not to give much thought to the impact paint, demoed materials, new construction materials, and the cleanup process might have had on the environment.  Paint, solvents, dust, adhesives, and other by-products of construction can wind up in the local stormwater drainage system when left outside uncovered and exposed to rain.  With a little research and planning, your home improvement project can have great results as well as be stormwater friendly.  Choosing materials with the least overall impact to the environment is an important part of the planning process. Some considerations include the sustainability of the material sources; the energy used in their extraction, manufacture and transportation; their potential health effects; and the disposal options available.  For example, low VOC water based paint is the least toxic formulation and requires just soap and water to clean brushes, containers and spills. Leftover water based paints can be stored in jars with tight lids for touch-ups, taken to a household hazardous waste day for disposal, or allowed to dry out (adding some clean cat litter can help) and placed in the regular trash.  In a renovation, old cabinets, doors, windows, appliances, counter tops, fixtures, and many other materials can be kept intact and donated to a charity for reuse or, if in bad shape, recycled at a location which properly disposes of these items.  If you are doing the work yourself, you can save money by looking for ways to repurpose materials by deconstructing rather than demoing them whenever possible.  Brick from a fireplace redo can be repurposed as a garden walkway, and old kitchen cabinets can have a second life in the garage as a storage unit.  During construction, it’s important for both debris and new materials stored outside to be kept covered to protect them from rain and located away from paved areas to avoid the leaching or washing of materials into the storm drainage system, since some construction materials contain metals or chemicals that must be kept out of waterways.  If you plan to hire a contractor for your remodel, be sure to ask if they use products with the least impact to the environment; plan to reduce waste by reusing or salvaging materials and recycling debris; and will properly handle, contain, and dispose of adhesives, solvents, and other construction waste.

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Plan out your next home remolding or DIY project the right way, so that you do not end up with a mess like this!

What’s Happening?

 AL People Against a Littered State (PALS) Spring Cleanup – Want to make a difference in your community?  Consider organizing or participating in a volunteer roadside litter cleanup.  Last year, 1009 volunteers participated in 35 cleanups, removing 65 tons of litter and trash from roadways in unincorporated Jefferson County.  Several of these volunteers received statewide awards for their efforts.  Cleanup resources such as flyers, gloves, bags, safety t-shirts, traffic control and trash disposal are available for FREE to unincorporated Jefferson County Communities.  Call 325-8741 to learn how your community can participate.

 Tree Seedling Giveaway – February 25 – Linn Park FREE tree seedlings ready for planting 8 am – 3 pm.  For more information, call 787-5222.

 24th Annual Plant Dig – February 27 – New Georgia Landfill – Dig up FREE plants from 8 am – 1 pm.  Call 781-0598 to learn more.  A free workshop is offered on February 20 8am -10am at Birmingham Botanical Gardens to learn how to identify and harvest the plants at the plant dig.  Visit for details.

 Household Hazardous Waste Day – March 19 – Legion Field – McLendon Park – This FREE event is open to all Jefferson County residents 9 am – 12 noon or until capacity is met.  Click HERE for a list of items that will be accepted.

Lyn DiClemente
Jefferson County Department of Storm Water Management
B-210 Jefferson County Courthouse Annex
716 Richard Arrington Jr. Blvd. North
Birmingham, AL  35203



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