Reduce Your Building Waste

The construction of an average home (2,000 square feet) usually
results in 8,000 pounds of construction waste. Add that to the
waste generated by demolition, and the figures are astounding:
Every year in the United States, 136 million tons of construction
and demolition waste are tossed into landfills. This debris amounts
to more than half of all landfill waste ? and much of it can be
reused if handled properly. Here are several ways you can locate
reclaimed and recycled construction materials:

  • The Internet.
    Freecycling‘ is an
    easy-to-use Internet service for people who want to trade things
    locally, for free. Also try
    Build.Recycle.Net and
    Sustainable Architecture,
    Building and Culture
    for a list of similar organizations. And
    frequently, there are auctions of used construction materials at
    eBay.
  • Your neighborhood. Your neighbors who are remodeling
    will probably be thrilled that you want to take that old bathtub,
    shower door or fireplace mantel off their hands. Houses set to be
    torn down also are gold mines for prospective builders who need
    materials, especially wood, hardware and fixtures such as sinks and
    cabinets. Local construction companies and salvage yards, too, are
    often willing to unload their ‘waste’ onto eager takers.
  • Habitat for Humanity. The home-building charity
    organization operates retail outlets called
    ReStores,
    that sell quality used and surplus building materials at a fraction
    of their regular prices.
  • Yellow Pages. When searching for used building materials
    in the phone book, look up ‘used,’ ‘recycled,’ ‘salvaged,’
    ‘antique’ or ‘junk.’
  • Contractors. The technology to reconstitute many
    construction waste items into new products is rapidly progressing,
    and many building professionals will use reclaimed or recycled
    materials whenever they can. For a list of sources near you, visit
    the Green
    Building Professionals Directory
    .

By donating and building with used materials, you can feel good
about participating in all three R’s ? reducing, reusing and
recycling ? while saving money and supporting local
economies.