Green tip for week #40 — Week of February 1, 2009

Recycled slate chalkboards for activity wall

Repurposed slate chalkboard from

Repurposed slate chalkboard for activity or conversation wall

This week, gray becomes the new green.  If you’ve been looking for a creative outlet for yourself or your children, or you simply want a conversation piece in your home, consider using a salvaged slate chalkboard as a new activity wall in your home or office.

Rather than purchasing a new chalkboard, whiteboard or activity easel, a salvaged slate chalkboard can be placed in your home for the kids to use, in your office instead of a whiteboard for brainstorming, or in your dining room or kitchen for keeping reminders, lists, or simply creating a conversation piece.
This idea, and the photo, are courtesy of my friends at Locus Architecture, an incredibly creative Minneapolis-based architecture firm that focused on sustainability before it became a household term.  Here are some comments and tips from Locus for creating or installing your slate chalkboard:
  • wet sand the slate it to get any scratches out, and then mount it carefully with black pan-head screws
  • leave a little gap between panels, as the reclaimed stuff isn’t always exactly the same thickness (varies maybe 1/32″ of an inch)
  • the old real slate surfaces are much nicer than the composite chalkboards they made in the 70s, 80s and 90s.  It takes the chalk better and cleans easier (you can use a wet rag instead of an eraser
  • oils (olive oil, cooking oil, and the like) will leave spots on it.  You can solve this somewhat by coating the entire thing with mineral oil, if you choose.
If you go looking for a slate chalkboard, be sure to look for one that is “repurposed” (i.e., “previously loved”) to make sure that this is truly a “green idea”, rather than just a way to add more stuff to your home.
Some building and materials suppliers who deal with salvaged supplies may be resources.  In Minneapolis, one resource is Bauer Brothers Salvage (see website here).
Submit your green ideas and tips to — we’re on tip #40 of 52, so be sure your idea gets included by submitting it now!


For more weekly green tips, come back to and tell your friends and colleagues about the weekly green tips found at