Like HowStuffWorks on Facebook!

How do I dispose of my construction waste without bruising my environmental conscience?


Home DIY Construction Removal
The rock band Linkin Park works with Habitat for Humanity to build a house. The charitable organization takes all kinds of donations, including lumber, appliances and paint.
The rock band Linkin Park works with Habitat for Humanity to build a house. The charitable organization takes all kinds of donations, including lumber, appliances and paint.
Sean Gardner/Stringer/Getty Images

­It isn't always practical or affordable to hire a deconstruction crew for small home renovation projects, especially if you're on a budget. Fortunately, there are many things you can do on your own to keep your do-it-yourself (DIY) project on the green track.

One way to reduce waste is to find ways to work around something rather than tearing it out. For example, if you have an old tile floor or backsplash that you want to replace, you may be able to just tile over it. This not only saves costly trips to the landfill, it will also save your back. Tile is very heavy and requires a lot of elbow grease to remove. You might have a popcorn ceiling that you loathe, so it's good to know that instead of taking the labor-intensive crowbar approach, you can install thin sheets of drywall over it to create a nice, smooth surface.

There are some safety issues that are also important to consider when determining how to approach a home renovation project. If you live in a house built before 1978, there's a good chance you have lead paint on your walls. If you're not sure, you can buy home tests from local hardware stores. If you do find lead paint, your best bet is to cover it up with wallpaper or a fresh coat of new paint. If you decide you do have to take the wall down, you should consult a professional.

Another way to keep your construction waste out of landfills is to donate materials. Habitat for Humanity accepts items like lumber, old appliances, large pieces of drywall and leftover paint. Salvage yards are popular shopping destinations for home rehabbers, and they'll gladly accept items such as doors and windows, especially if they come from older houses.

You can also list your discarded materials on Craigslist or Freecycle. As they say, one man's trash is another man's treasure, and that pile of bricks sitting in your yard may be perfect for someone's garden. Also, many modern artists and crafters are using reclaimed materials in their work. So if you're lucky, you may just end up with a wallet made out of roof shingles.


More to Explore