4 Ways to Reduce Your Renovation Waste

Getting something new shouldn't always mean tossing the old. You can reduce waste and challenge your creativity by looking for ways to repurpose leftover or discarded construction materials.


Recognize these? Old kitchen cabinet doors are arranged to form a large screen. Photo: Flickr / hake

Home renovation is big business. And if you think renovation generates a ton of construction work, just think of the construction waste. According to the National Institute of Building Sciences’ Whole Building Design Guide, Americans throw out millions of tons of building-related waste each year. Instead of adding to your neighborhood landfill, consider reusing, repurposing, donating, or selling your renovation waste to help make a difference.


1. REPURPOSE (in unexpected and unusual ways)
Did your recent home renovation result in some leftover scrap metal or a few broken tools? Before you toss them in the trash, think about repurposing your old materials into something completely different. A welding torch, some spray paint, and a good dose of creativity can generate a unique garden ornament or dramatic piece of art and save a trip to the dump.

salvaged tools turned into fencing

The Rebuilding Center in Portland, Oregon, repurposed shovels, spades, auger drill bits, and other scrap metal to make this distinctive fence. Photo: Flickr/ wanderingone


2. REUSE (in other rooms or locations)
Renovation sometimes requires removing dated yet still functional pieces like kitchen cabinets, countertops, sinks, and flooring. If a piece is in good shape, consider reusing it as-is elsewhere in your home.

original kitchen cabinets

Photo: Flickr / xboxmx

For example, once they’ve been cleaned and painted, some or all of your old kitchen cabinets can add storage and help organize the following areas of your home or property:

  •  laundry room
  •  garage
  •  workshop
  •  garden shed
  •  barn
  •  basement bar

Removed vinyl flooring may also merit a second life. If you can live with the pattern and the flooring’s still in good shape, cut it down to use in a small space, such as a powder room, mudroom, or workshop.

Tip: If you’re planning on pulling up the vinyl flooring in your kitchen, take a good look at it first. Examine places that receive little foot traffic, such as under the fridge, stove, or kitchen table. Chances are that the flooring in these areas is the least worn, and suitable to reuse elsewhere in your home.


3. DONATE (to worthwhile causes and organizations)
Secondhand, gently used, and leftover construction and renovation material may be donated to drop-off centers in most major cities and towns across the country.

Habitat ReStore Volunteers

Volunteers at Habitat for Humanity ReStore, Burlington County, New Jersey. Flickr / amandamarie

One of the most well-known places to donate—and purchase—building supplies is at your local ReStore. Run by the nonprofit group Habitat for Humanity, ReStore is a great way to divert your reno waste from the landfill and support homebuilding in your local area. There are currently 825 Habitat for Humanity ReStores across Canada and the United States, and many of them offer a free pickup option for homeowners and contractors with large items to donate.


4. SELL (through print classifieds or online) 
Looking to offset the cost of your remodel or renovation? Earn some cash while reducing your construction waste by selling your leftover or used building materials in your local newspaper classifieds or through an online classifieds site.

eBay vintage sink for sale

Photo: eBay.com

Items that typically sell quickly include architecturally unusual or vintage items, windows, sinks, kitchen cabinets with or without countertops, and bathroom vanities. Do a quick Internet search of your location and “free online classifieds” to find a suitable site. Remember, your remodeling trash could be just the thing another renovator is searching for!


If you’re looking for more on waste removal, consider:

How To: Dispose of Household Hazardous Waste
Quick Tip: Recycle Building Materials
Sorting Waste after Remodeling