Monday, February 7, 2011

The cheap environmentalist

One of the biggest challenges we've found lately is balancing our dreams of saving the planet one household item at a time (yes, I see the irony), and trying to do so with very little dinero. The truth is it’s not easy but Brendon and I have definitely found some ways to save cash and the planet at the same time. This weekend we did it with our countertops. *Want to learn more about what makes a good countertop? Check out this link.

I first saw Paperstone when I went to the store Greenworks Building Supply about a year ago. It was BEAUTIFUL and the most eco-friendly option to be found. The countertops were made from – you guessed it – paper and they were as hard as, well, stone. Sheets of post-consumer waste paper (this is the stuff that’s already been used more than once) are dyed using organic pigments that produce a range of colours from deep tan to a slate black. The sheets are then layered one top of each other and pressed under high heat. A phenolic resin made from cashew nuts is used to keep the paper together and then the finished product is coasted with a combination of carnauba and bees waxes to protect it.

I was in heaven and I wanted it but the price tag was way up there with granite and soooo out of our budget. There was no way we could afford it. That was until our friends, the cheapest environmentalist I know, told us about the Paperstone factory specials. These are incredible discounts on countertops that have small imperfections like divots (like what a golf ball might make  on a wall) or blemishes which refer to a slight discolouration in the product. The reality is though that these imperfections are tiny and from what we found, in many cases imperceptible.

So Sunday night we drove 6 hours to Hoquiam.  Does anyone know where Hoquiam, Washington is? Don’t worry. Neither did I until about a week ago. The village of Hoquiam is home to the one and only Paperstone factory in the world. It really is a hole in the wall and not much to look at but the factory, now that’s another story.  What an amazing site! It was incredible to see the process in action and the mountain of Paperstone sheets being prepared for shipment across North America.

The super friendly Hoquians pulled out a few of the sheets that I had picked out online and we quickly decided on a beautiful Gunmetal (grey) sheet with a ‘blemish’ which we couldn’t find even looking under the UV light. The cost to us - $392.  In the store this would have been upwards of $2500. If you add the cost of one tank of gas $40 (thank God for the VW diesel), a stay in the Econolodge for $45 and the cost to get it home $150, we will saved almost  80% off the retail price.

Man I love a good deal.  Isn't our sheet beautiful!


  1. It's wonderful that you found one of Hoquiam's hidden treasures, Paneltech. The Paperstone products are manufactured from a product produced by neighboring Grays Harbor Paper, one of the most eco-friendly paper manufacturers in the U.S. You were also near Imperium Renewables, the largest biodiesel manufacturing plant in the nation. Hoquiam also is home to 13 nationally registered historic properties. Hoquiam is the first Certified Local Government city (not village) in Grays Harbor County which allows buildings to register on our local historic register. Also, you might visit the historic 7th Street Theatre if you ever come back to our city, and see the 997 original seats that were restored, not replaced, by the Washington Correctional Industries, and is one of the last remaining atmospheric theatres on the West Coast. I'm sure that you meant "hole in the wall" in a nice way.

  2. Ah yes. Do you know how they say you shouldn't judge a book ny its cover on a rainy day in the middle of winter over an 8hr period? So maybe we didn't give Hoquiam enough time...

    Thanks for mentioning the biodiesel plant. We did see that and were amazed by the size of it! And a shout out to all of the Americans we met on our trip down. You really are the friendliest bunch of folks. Much better than Vancouverites. ;)

  3. I've installed PaperStone in a few commercial environments and love it. Paneltech is making a big push with their 1/2" thick product for countertops which should bring the installed cost of the PaperStone around $50-60$/sqft. I also like the fact that PaperStone uses a non-petrol based resin, unlike products like RichLite which are oil based. Not sure, but I think "Fine Line Pacific" may be the offering the 1/2" thick product in your area.

    This is a great post!
    ken leitch, "theTopDude"

  4. Hello Brendan and Akua. Thanks for this and your other posts. It's great to be able to save time finding the right sources for things and experience the joys of home building without the work:)

    We haven't even acquired land yet but I have spent soooo much time going over house plans, trying to select the best all-in-one washer/dryer, figuring out the optimum combination of refrigerator and freezer and more.

    Have fun with the rest of the process!