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 these sort of renovation 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 demolition-derived 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.
Speak to contractors about recycling. Contractors working on a home typically know which materials can be recycled in a given area. 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 esthetic appeal and protect plants on hot summer days. Even asphalt and concrete can be recycled into new products.
Choose recycled content building materials. Another way to reduce home improvement project waste is to make use of other homeowners’ discarded materials.
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.