How to re­duce home im­prove­ment project waste

The Prince George Citizen - The Citizen - Real Estate Weekly - - Real Estate Weekly -

The home im­prove­ment in­dus­try has grown con­sid­er­ably over the last sev­eral decades, as home­own­ers in­creas­ingly took steps to turn their homes into per­sonal oases. But such projects of­ten pro­duce sub­stan­tial amounts of waste, neg­a­tively im­pact­ing the en­vi­ron­ment as a re­sult.

Ac­cord­ing to the United States En­vi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion Agency, an es­ti­mated 170 mil­lion tons of build­ing con­struc­tion, ren­o­va­tion and de­mo­li­tion­derived wastes were gen­er­ated in 2003, a year when the hous­ing mar­ket was thriv­ing and home­own­ers were not shy­ing away from costly home im­prove­ment projects. With the hous­ing mar­ket once again on the re­bound, the home im­prove­ment in­dus­try fig­ures to ben­e­fit once again. There are steps eco-con­scious home­own­ers can take to re­duce waste while im­prov­ing their homes.

Save sal­vage­able ma­te­ri­als.

Some ma­te­ri­als sim­ply must be dis­carded when mak­ing im­prove­ments to a home. But many more ma­te­ri­als can be sal­vaged. When mak­ing ren­o­va­tions to a home, sep­a­rate ma­te­ri­als like lum­ber, hard­ware, fix­tures, and even ap­pli­ances that can be sal­vaged from those ma­te­ri­als that must be dis­carded. Many com­mu­ni­ties are home to or­ga­ni­za­tions that col­lect sal­vage­able ma­te­ri­als, and these ma­te­ri­als can be reused by fel­low home­own­ers or other or­ga­ni­za­tions down the road.

Speak to con­trac­tors about re­cy­cling.

Con­trac­tors work­ing on a home typ­i­cally know which ma­te­ri­als can be re­cy­cled in a given area. When dis­cussing prospec­tive projects with con­trac­tors, home­own­ers can men­tion their will­ing­ness to re­cy­cle ma­te­ri­als. Wood is a versatile ma­te­rial that can be turned into re­claimed or com­pos­ite wood prod­ucts, in­clud­ing decks or other items used around the home. Old wood be­ing re­moved from a home may even work as mulch, which home­own­ers can spread around their yards to add aes­thetic ap­peal and pro­tect plants on hot sum­mer days. Even as­phalt and con­crete can be re­cy­cled into new prod­ucts, and home­own­ers should dis­cuss their wishes to re­cy­cle as many ma­te­ri­als as pos­si­ble.

* Choose re­cy­cled con­tent build­ing ma­te­ri­als.

An­other way to re­duce home im­prove­ment project waste is to make use of other home­own­ers’ dis­carded ma­te­ri­als. Re­cy­cled con­tent build­ing ma­te­ri­als are prod­ucts that in­clude ma­te­ri­als re­cy­cled from pre­vi­ous projects. These once-sparse ma­te­ri­als are now com­mon­place, and la­bels of­ten in­clude the per­cent­ages of post­con­sumer and re­cov­ered ma­te­ri­als used in each prod­uct. Ma­te­ri­als such as dry­wall, in­su­la­tion, kitchen coun­ter­tops, glass tiles, car­pet­ing and car­pet pad­ding may in­clude re­cy­cled con­tent, and the grow­ing pop­u­lar­ity of such prod­ucts has made them rel­a­tively sim­ple for home­own­ers to find. When work­ing with con­trac­tors, home­own­ers should em­pha­size their de­sire to use ma­te­ri­als made from re­cy­cled con­tent. Such ma­te­ri­als are both pleas­ing to the eye and the en­vi­ron­ment.

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