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Recycle or Reuse Building Materials To Create a One-of-A Kind Project

With some construction materials still hard to come by or taking a long time to arrive, you may want to consider using recycled building materials.

Recycle Remodeling

There are two parts to recycling while remodeling. What you buy, and what you reuse.

Maximizing the opportunity to utilize recycled goods is something you will need to discuss ahead of time with your contractor. It is an important question to ask as you interview prospective contractors for your project. If they are LEED AP, you will have a leg up. LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. It is a globally recognized framework for sustainable construction. The term AP stands for Accredited Professional. Combined, they make up the premier credential a person can achieve in the LEED rating system.

If you are doing the project yourself, you need to plan your purchases. In any case, give yourself time to shop wisely.

Buy Recycled

Incorporating pre-used materials, products, fixtures, or appliances is a terrific way to start your project and save money. One of Rosie and Romey’s favorite places to pick up quality repurposed materials is the Habitat for Humanity ReStores, which can be found all over the state.

Assuming you thoroughly planned for your project, you know what you need. Work with your architect, designer, and contractor to identify not only products but sources as well. In addition to Habitat for Humanity, many salvage yards will have a lot of good items that you might want to consider. These private companies take in other people’s unwanted items and resell them.

Google “recycle centers,” “salvage yards,” and “trash collection companies” to find them. Municipalities that recycle usually do not have the ability to offer the materials directly to the consumer. Ask your municipality where they unload materials and find out if that can be a source for you.

You can also buy items in stores that sell products made from recycled materials. Composite decking is a great example. Manufacturers will utilize recycled plastic, sawdust, wood chips, and other wood fibers left over from their milling process. Look for these international symbols when shopping for items that claim to contain “Recycled Content” such as these:

Check out the manufacturer’s claims. Some indicate that only the packaging is made from recycled materials. Beware of “Green Washing.” Green washing is when false or marginal claims are made about the authenticity of a product’s eco-friendly claims.

Reuse Your Materials

Instead of demolishing the portion of your home, you are looking to remodel, deconstruct it. You can carefully unbuild that portion of your home you might have just torn into without much thought to reusing or recycling the materials.

Let’s start with reuse. Many items can be kept out of the landfill and function well for your project. Here is a list you might consider for reuse:

  • Moldings
  • Cabinets (use old kitchen cabinets in the garage or shed)
  • Framing Lumber
  • Wood Flooring
  • Plumbing Piping
  • Wiring
  • Insulation
  • Ductwork
  • Windows
  • Doors and Associated Hardware
  • Appliances

The list can go on with some thought on your part, your designer, and your contractor. Reusing materials saves money and time. With the supply chain issues the industry is still experiencing, the time spent waiting for delivery can surely be reduced. When remodeling historic homes, reuse is both king and queen. There are some pieces you will need that aren’t even made anymore. Some mid-century homes will qualify as well. In those cases, reuse is a necessity, not just a good idea.

Another idea that has been around for a while, is re-tasking one product for another use. For example, use an old door as the front of a cabinet or an old dresser for a vanity. Getting creative and thinking outside the box can be a lot of fun and yield fantastic outcomes. Don’t sell yourself short in this regard.

Recycle Your Materials

You may not be able to reuse some items. What you don’t use might be a candidate for the recycling store or an online marketplace. Be sure not to invite anyone to your home when selling online. Meet in a public location.

When you set aside the products you think are ready to be recycled, the product or materials you are putting out there need to be in decent condition and useable. Some examples of items you might donate or sell are:

  • Cabinets
  • Countertops (especially if they are stone products)
  • Flooring (mostly wood products, though engineered flooring, some vinyl, and carpet in good condition are reusable)
  • Lighting Fixtures
  • Plumbing Fixtures (including sinks, faucets, tubs, and toilets)

Rosie suggests taking a photo of the items you want to donate and check with the reseller, such as Habitat for Humanity ReStore, to see if they are willing to take them. Appliances, for instance, need to be in working order.

There are other products that can be recycled and then reworked for reuse. An example is a gypsum wallboard. The gypsum can be re-tasked for a variety of uses.

The objective of this extra effort is two-fold — to reduce the amount of energy and raw materials needed to produce the material or product again, and to reduce the number of materials going into the landfill.

So, get creative with your project, and have some fun while being environmentally conscious!



Construction materials can be hard to come by or take too long to deliver. Consider your next remodel project recycling or reusing materials. Gino Ochoa of Habitat For Humanity ReStores says you can find some great buys at a fraction of the cost while helping build homes for families in need and reducing items in the landfill. Plus other ways and stories on recycling and ‘thinking green’.

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