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Reducing Single Use Items

30 April, 2021

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“Refinishing is heavy on single use items.  I recognized this early on and wanted to reduce not only the environmental impact but also my supply costs,” says Heather McCroan of Heather’s Cabinet Refinishing. So over the last couple of years she has been working to find, test and invest in reusable items that will reduce the impact on the environment and her bottom line.  Here are a few ideas from her research:

Floor Protection

I replaced rosin paper and disposable floor protection with bath rugs that we overlap and tape together. There are so many added benefits other than just getting away from single use on this one. The nonslip backing gives better footing, some spill protection, and protection from equipment and ladders. Plus they are washable, easy and fast masking because the pieces are around 2x6 so they are easy to map out. I do still use a 12-inch plastic right under the cabinets but have replaced the majority of the single use floor protection.

We replaced paper towels used for rinsing, wiping, or tacking off with washable microfiber towels. I also sewed some of them into a mitt so we can use one quadrant of one side of the towel per door. This means we can use one towel for eight doors always using a fresh quadrant or side. This maximizes the use of a single towel and reduces the number we have to use and wash.

Plastic Masking
On cabinets that don't go to the ceiling I top with a 1/4" plywood panel that protects the ceiling and replaces single use plastic masking on the ceilings and walls in those cases. This is also a huge time saver.

Painter’s Plastic

I recently replaced using painter's plastic used to create a dust and overspray containment area with ZipWall ZipFast Reusable panels. These panels allow for modification as they come in multiple lengths. Zip them together into the width you need for the project.



I purchased small food storage containers to replace the plastic baggies I was using to store hardware from the doors and drawers while we are refinishing.  Previously we would use one sandwich bag per door, so we ran through them fast.  Now we have these containers that nest together easily when not in use. They take up a little more room, but we don't have to reuse sandwich bags.

Appliance and Counter Covering
I just purchased a roll of a spill resistant, reusable, thin fabric drop cloth by Trimaco called One Tuff.  I’m hoping this will replace plastic masking on all countertops making jobsite prep even faster.

We use foam pouches to wrap finished doors. It’s faster and cheaper to reuse these than single use plastic or paper.

Do you have a tip for reusable materials on the jobsite? Share it in the comments below.

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