If the idea of saving yourself some money while helping the environment appeals to you, you might want to include some recycled building supplies in your new home or remodel. Since it's estimated 30% to 40% of the waste going into a landfill is debris from construction demolition, you can see how recycling even a portion of that will minimize the impact on the environment and actually save you some money in the process.
What Kind of Building Materials Are Recycled?
Deconstruction projects can provide lots of useful materials such as bricks and stones for exteriors, although you might want clean them first. You can also find recycled framing lumber, plumbing fixtures, lighting fixtures that can be rewired and reused, doors, cabinets, counters, and hardware.
Where Can I Find Recycled Building Materials?
Contact homeowners or remodeling contractors who are working on remodeling older homes. They may be willing to allow you to take anything you want for free or at least for a very reasonable price. You can also check the Internet to find recycled building materials in your area. Many companies recognize the value of recycling building materials. You can often find beautiful things like old hardwood floors or unique wooden moldings that have come from deconstruction projects.
Craigslist and other local online classified sites may contain listings from homeowners preparing to remodel their homes offering materials such as kitchen cabinets for free as long as you remove them yourself. Habitat for Humanity Restores sell recycled building materials and fixtures contributed by homeowners or contractors to help fund their charitable building projects. Habitat for Humanity has Restores all over North America.
There are numerous small local building material recycling organizations such as “Renew” in Vermont who undertake deconstruction and recycling of the materials from their projects.
What About New Materials?
Lots of new building materials contain a high proportion of recycled material in the manufacturing process, helping preserve the environment by ensuring less virgin material is used. Light gauge steel used for framing studs is commonly made up of a quarter to a half recycled steel. Post consumer glass is used in manufacturing fiberglass insulation while cellulose insulation uses recycled newspaper in its production. Drywall is now commonly made using synthetic (also called recaptured) gypsum that is a by-product of materials used in the emission reduction processes of coal-burning power generation plants. When combined with 100% recycled paper facings, drywall can now be manufactured totally from recycled products.