Recycling Building Supplies

If the idea of saving yourself some money while helping the environment appeals to you, you're a candidate for including some recycled building supplies in your new home or remodel. Since it's estimated 30% to 40% of the waste going into a landfill is debris from construction demolition, you can see how recycling even a portion of that will minimize the impact on the environment and actually save you some money in the process.

What kind of building materials are recycled?

Deconstruction projects can provide lots of useful materials such as

  • Bricks and stones for the exteriors - use them as they come or clean them
  • Framing lumber
  • Plumbing fixtures that can be refurbished for very little.
  • Lighting fixtures can be rewired and reused.
  • Doors
  • Cabinets, counters and hardware

Where can I find recycled building materials

  • Contact home owners or remodeling contractors who are working on remodeling older homes. They may be willing to allow you to take anything you want for free or at least for a very reasonable price.
  • Check the Internet to find recycled building materials in your area. Many companies recognize the value of recycling building materials and are in the business. You can often find beautiful things like old hardwood floors or unique wooden moldings that have come from deconstruction projects.
  • Craig's list and other local online classified sites may contain listings from homeowners preparing to remodel their homes offering materials such as kitchen cabinets for free as long as you remove them yourself.
  • “Habitat for Humanity” Restores ( sell recycled building materials and fixtures contributed by homeowners or contractors to help fund their charitable building projects. Habitat for Humanity has “Restores” all over North America.
  • There are numerous small local building material recycling organizations such as “Renew” ( in Vermont who undertake deconstruction and recycling of the materials from their projects.

Although perhaps not what most people think of when considering recycled building materials, lots of 'new' building materials contain a high proportion of recycled material in the manufacturing process, helping preserve the environment by ensuring less virgin material is used, for example,

  • Light gauge steel used for framing studs is commonly made up of a quarter to a half recycled steel.
  • Post consumer glass is used in manufacturing fiberglass insulation while cellulose insulation uses recycled newspaper in its production.
  • Drywall is now commonly made using 'synthetic” (also called 'recaptured') gypsum that is a by product of materials used in the emission reduction processes of coal burning power generation plants. When combined with 100% recycled paper facings, drywall can now be manufactured totally from recycled products.

Using recycled building materials in your home project, may require a little more effort than simply ordering new materials from the building supply store, but what you get from the extra effort may include a unique appearance in your home, along with the knowledge you've helped preserve the environment, but perhaps best of all, a little extra money staying in your pocket.

Murray Anderson is an experienced freelance writer with over 800 articles published on the web as well as in print magazines and newspapers in both the United States and Canada. He writes on a wide range of topics and is a regular contributor to He can be contacted at [email protected]