DIY sustainably?

Applying some Sustainable X thinking on the home front.

New shelves required in the kitchen. So furniture store or DIY?

Historically, I would be off to the furniture store. Two shelves with brackets at the basic end of the spectrum would be £40ish all in. Now my client (wife) specification was a chunky wooden look so that was out really, regardless of the sustainability angle. So to buy planed all round FSC oak planks from a competitive timber merchant, with a couple of brackets created a higher budget of £150 for two.

Benchmarks in place, how to do it sustainably?

Virgin timber not a great place to start whether it’s FSC or not. So reclaimed or re-used would be ideal. A plethora of options revealed themselves online. After some shopping around the going rate for finished reclaimed of the size required was about £50 a shelf (with brackets). Which option to choose?

Thinking supply chain

Local would be ideal to reduce transport footprint and support the community I live in.

Thinking social value

Bumped into Community Wood Recycling, a social enterprise focused on saving resources and creating local jobs for people who may be struggling for work. Back to local, it has an affiliated company which is in St Albans. Perfect.

The outcome

Went for reclaimed scaffold boards which they sanded and stained for me. I cannot vouch for the sustainability credentials of the stain etc. For the brackets a local blacksmith provided the right size unfinished. The bonus for me on the labouring side was that the client was happy with the unfinished look – also more chemicals avoided.

All in price £100 so comfortably cheaper than the virgin wood version.

Hiccups on the way:

  • Why would the brackets all be the same size?
  • Schoolboy assumption that the bracket holes were all at same height.
  • Why would the wall be straight and true?

And the moment of truth …..”That looks ok”. High praise.


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