Keeping construction debris out of the dump

Today on the radio I’m talking about recycling as it pertains to construction and remodeling. What’s interesting here is what a large proportion of our waste this debris makes up. Dallas Landfill Manager Rick White told me that while composition of landfill intake fluctuates, it’s not unreasonable to say that construction debris makes up 40% of the total.

One practice that reduces such waste is salvaging more usable materials. I’ve listed a few salvage places to check out at the bottom of this post.

Another option for reducing waste that is doable for just about anyone is to take advantage of free online classified-type ads for disposing of or purchasing items that still have useful life left in them. My particular favorite is the Craigslist “Household” section. On most days this section for DFW alone has more than 300 items posted.

I purchased my dishwasher via this method from a lady who was getting rid of her relatively new, high-end white Kenmore for a stainless steel model. Here it is in my kitchen:

New DW, originally uploaded by espeedy123.

And to come full circle, I posted my old one in the “Free” section of Craigslist, and a guy who actually still has one of these was more than happy to take it off my hands for the parts. Here’s the old one:

Vintage DW, originally uploaded by espeedy123.

My motivation was more financial than environmental, but at the end of the day the landfill had two fewer dishwasers than it might have, and surely that’s worth something.

Architectural Salvage Sources in Dallas

Online sources for reusable remodeling materials

  • Craigslist: As noted above, the “Household” section is great for nearly new appliances, cabinets, etc.
  • Ebay: Helpful for finding specific items such like fixtures with the site’s “Search” and “Watch” features.

6 responses to “Keeping construction debris out of the dump

  1. Did the goods at the salvage store look pretty good? Any types of materials in particular?

  2. Great post.

    With the really old dishwasher though, it’s could be questionable whether or not keeping it out of the landfill is a plus.

    The issue is that old appliances like dishwashers, refrigerators and toilets can be extremely energy inefficient. If they are using exponentially more energy and water when you use them, then you are actually costing yourself and the environment by continuing to use that old stuff.

    I think it’s great how you got a newer, more efficient dishwasher. But I wonder if the guy who is getting parts for the old one is really saving himself much if he is using a lot more electricity and water to run it.

  3. Pingback: Practical Environmentalist » Blog Archive » Green Building renovation. What to do with construction debris?

  4. It’s a valid point that my old dishwasher isn’t efficient. The guy who picked it up would no doubt save water and electricity if he upgraded. With this example my intent is not to promote the use of inefficient appliances but rather a spirit of reuse. I’m not sure how I would quantify this, but my gut tells me that overall, excess consumption does at least as much harm as inefficiency.

    I believe at some point we will start hearing more about these sorts of tradeoffs in “green” goods. For example, bamboo flooring. Sure, bamboo is renewable, but when it’s shipped on a petroleum tanker all the way from China, how much better is it than an oak floor from a sustainable oak tree farm raised here in the U.S.? Are the workers who processed the bamboo making a livable wage? How many pesticides and fertilizers were used to grow the oak trees? It can get very complex and there is no easy answer.

    Thanks for the comment!

  5. To TexasMike … the lumber and reclaimed wood flooring at Orr-Reed Wrecking Co. in downtown Dallas was particularly cool. They have a lot of it.

  6. Hello

    Great book. I just want to say what a fantastic thing you are doing! Good luck!


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