Recycling Building Materials After a Renovation

Reading Time: 3 minutes

As the 21st Century rolls on, we’re beginning to realize that we have to take a greener approach when it comes to being responsible consumers. This extends to home improvement and renovations as much as it does to anything else. This doesn’t just mean in the way that we buy building materials, but also in what we do with some of the old materials we remove from our sites as we transform our homes.

Guest poster Drake MacDonald of weighs in on this very topic, to help you get a handle on what to do with what’s left over from your home improvement projects …


As the nation continues to strive to be greener, communities around the country are increasingly making recycling mandatory for certain construction projects. In fact, the emergence of new industry terms such as “green demolition” and “deconstruction” signal that a tidal shift in how we sort and dispose of waste is under way.

These terms commonly refer to specially hired teams skilled in the deconstruction and salvage of building components in a teardown or remodel. Yet utilizing green demolition teams often causes more time to be spent on the job and at a higher cost. Luckily, you don’t need a specialized team or even a construction management degree to do your part to reduce, reuse and recycle. Simply implement the following tips during your next renovation project, and you will leave the world a little greener.

One Person’s Trash …

Once you have renovated your home it, you will probably want to outfit it with new and improved appliances and furniture. However, this does not mean you should simply throw your old items in the trash. Objects like old tables, chairs and microwaves can easily be resold or given away. Web sites like Craigslist and Freecycle are great online places to connect with people who can take stuff off your hands. Similarly, second hand stores take donations and some even have pickup service. Sometimes passers-by will even take away discarded objects left on the curbside.

Fixtures such as wall boarding, molding, windows, floor and ceiling tiling, doorknobs and drawer pulls are sometimes considered vintage or antique and can also be given away. Salvage stores may want to buy some of them or neighbors with a similar vintage house may be able to refinish these features for their own remodeling projects.

Used and re-used building materials

You may think you are out of luck it comes to the recycling the heavy materials, such as any metals, wiring, glass, plastic and brick, used to build your home. However, according to Eric Brennan, many recycling programs now accept used building materials, which include everything from asphalt roofing materials to masonry. Alternatively, scraps from your remodel also can be used in landscaping. Bits of concrete can be reused as landscaping stones and salvaged wood can chipped for plant beds.

Ask your remodeler, consult local recycling programs

Even if you do not hire a profession green demolition team to help clean up after your renovation, your contractor or local building official can be a great source of information when considering how to dispose of these materials. Or if you want to be completely independent, a quick skim through the local yellow pages or search on the Internet will give you a good idea of the recycling opportunities in your area.

These days everyone from government organizations to common citizens is working to find ways to reduce, reuse and recycle. Thus, before your throw all of your construction debris in the trash, spend some time looking through it for things you can sell, give away or recycle. A quick post on Craigslist or trip to a salvage yard can give new life to what was once considered only fit for the dumpster.


Thanks, Drake!



1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (No Ratings Yet)

Cate Morgan-Harlow

Cate Morgan-Harlow is an all arounder, writing about how-to, DIY, and design with gusto. She is a shadowy figure with a mysterious past.