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Reuse and Recycle Remodeling Scrap

Oftentimes, when a remodel is started, one of the big surprises encountered is the amount of debris and scrap accumulated each day. Big or small, a remodel requires different types of building materials including wood, metal, sheetrock, concrete, asphalt, bricks, cardboard, and hard plastics. Not only can you reuse much of these materials within your own remodel, but what you don’t use, you can donate for reuse or recycle somewhere else.

Did you know that arrangements can be made with your contractor ahead of time to haul concrete to recycling plants, which then ground it down into gravel or base rock for future building projects? Or that unpainted wood can be ground down and mixed in with soil to help nourish plants and tree roots? Pallets, fluorescent tubes, cardboard, and paper packaging, along with those architectural drawings, can all be recycled.

When lumber is salvaged or reused for your remodel or other construction buildings, approximately every three square feet can become one square foot of structure. At this rate, contractors could recover enough wood to build 120,000 new affordable homes annually, saving 33 mature trees and 10 acres of pine, about as many trees as would fit in seven football fields. It really is something to think about.

What other types of items can you renew, reuse, or recycle? Non-hazardous, uncontaminated materials, such as soil, rock, bricks, tiles, drywall, plaster, not-asbestos insulation, glass, asphalt pavement, non-hazardous painted, treated, or coated wood, plumbing fixtures, electrical wiring, or roofing shingles, just to name a few. For instance, tiles are often thrown away, but there are many projects they can be used for, like arts and crafts for outdoor projects or a decorative mosaic.

If you can’t reuse or choose not to, think about donating items such as furniture and appliances. Anything that is reusable can be given to charity or scrapped. When discarding your old appliance, either as a trade-in or scrap, make sure to leave the parts intact with the unit. Without the pieces to it, there is little chance it can be resold for charitable uses. If your dealer for the new appliance is removing the old appliance, check with them about donating. If they just toss appliances, make the arrangements yourself with a charity of your choice.

Appliances that are often referred to as “white goods” include refrigerators, freezers, ranges, water heaters, air conditioners, humidifiers, and other similar domestics appliances. Other good items for donation are sinks and cabinets. A good place to check with to see if an item is good for recycling or reuse would be the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

A top place for donations, in my opinion, is the Habitat for Humanity ReStores: (http://habitatoregon.org/restores.php for Oregon areas) U.S. Restores / Canadian Restores. These are retail outlets where quality used and surplus building materials are sold at a fraction of the cost. Proceeds help local affiliates fund the construction of Habitat houses within the community, which build approximately 10 or more houses per year in your area. Show your support for this worthy cause; help the environment by redirecting good, usable materials.

If you’re not considering renewing or reusing, but do need to save some money, list your items on a resale sight such as Craigslist. One man’s trash is another man’s treasure, my grandmother always said.

When planning your remodel, plan on what to do with the scrap that will accumulate and make good choices as to what to do with it. Talk with your contractor, designer, and local charities; take care of your home and the environment at the same time.

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