I was at the right place, at the right time today, to divert slightly used electrical fixtures and hardware from going to a landfill. It was a small commercial unit that was being renovated so it was a really modest number of fixtures but it felt really good to know that for the cost of a partial tank of gas, a few phone calls and a few hours of my time, I was able to do my part in recognizing the impact that our individual actions are having on our environment. If I was able to make others around me think twice as well then it will have truly been an incredible act.
Construction waste makes up such a big part of landfills so if you’re renovating, please plan to salvage what you can. Concrete, porcelain, rigid plastics, tile, lumber, metals, masonry, plastic, rock, carpet and insulation are among some of the materials that can be recycled, depending on your community. You may also want to consider donating the materials, furnishings and equipment that you’re replacing as others might find a good use for them; If you’re able start your demo with the intent to recycle or reuse, you’ll find that the rest – disposing of it – is not as hard as you’d think. It does mean taking a extra time to separate materials and deconstruct items rather than tearing them out but there are charitable organizations, stores and recyclers who can greatly benefit from or pay you for your efforts.
I went to Habitat for Humanity’s ReStore but there are many others who are reusing/repurposing a variety of products. Here are a few links to sources with more information: