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Make Sure to Build Your Home With Some R & R -- Reusable and Recyclable Materials

Make Sure to Build Your Home With Some R & R -- Reusable and Recyclable Materials

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By Elaine VonCannon, ABR, SRES, Associate Broker, Notary, Team Leader, Property Manager, Award Winning Agent

In the modern world of 2006, cultures across the globe feel the strain of a rapidly growing population. With the head count on planet Earth reaching six billion, five hundred and forty-two million, four hundred and ninety three thousand, two hundred and fifty people (6, 542, 493, 250) our need for renewable resources becomes more serious by the day. It has become apparent that recycled and salvaged materials are essential for reducing waste and creating savings, especially with building and construction. Your home can be everything you dream of and more with affordable green building strategies.

The Definition of Recycled?
Recycled means many things to different people. Some homeowners prefer to build with items newly created from recycled materials, while others prefer to salvage what they can from junk yards and construction dumpsters. Recycling gives homeowners and builders many options, but the end result is an efficient, beautiful and Earth-friendly place to live.

Recycling to Create a Green Interior
There are many products on the market created with environmentally safe practices in mind.

  • Use ceramic tile created from recycled glass
  • Recycled materials such as slag wool (a waste product of steel production) and cellulose fiber (made from newsprint) can be used to make recycled mineral and wood fiber ceiling tile.
  • Aluminum can be reused forever. Aluminum produced from scrap and recycled bottles, rather than bauxite ore found naturally, curbs energy consumption.
  • Pre-consumer recycled wood fiberboard is partially made from wood scrap and recycled paper fiberboard is formaldehyde and asbestos free.
  • Environmentalhomecenter.com recommends countertops made from waste paper and fly ash and you still get the look of natural soapstone or concrete.

Just Say No to Landfills!
In an article about recycled materials, Kelly Hart of GreenHomeBuilding.com writes, "The virtue of recycling used building materials lies in diminishing the need for industry to recreate it," he continues, "All of the energy that is spent in manufacturing and transporting something can be saved. The raw materials that would be drawn from the earth can be saved. The need to cover the item in the local landfill can be saved." Hart also claims, "The cost is likely to be a fraction of the same thing in the new category. The savings can be substantial." Many communities have salvage yards selling recycled building materials. You can find wood, windows, flooring, doors, electrical supplies, plumbing, fencing, insulation, cabinets, and landscaping. Also, browse classified ads, second hand stores, salvage yards, the dump, or your neighbor's garage sale.

Recycle A House?
Kelly Hart of GreenHomeBuilding.com also believes in recycling a whole house. In the past people have chosen to move an existing house to a new location with a solid foundation in order to renovate. Only well built homes can withstand the stress of moving, but projects like this are very affordable, even with repairs and land purchase. Hart describes the process and explains that plumbing and electrical codes are redone, as are windows, the exterior and the roof.

"Creating new life for old or abandoned houses has got be one of the most sustainable ways of making habitation," states Hart. "This is the ultimate form of recycling, where most of the basic components of a house are utilized intact instead of being tossed into a landfill or burned. There is a tremendous savings in the embodied energy of the house (in both materials and labor), so that all that needs to be done is to repair and polish the original dwelling to create a whole new life for it," he enthusiastically continues.

There Is Always An Alternative
According to writer Gordon Solberg in his article Building with Papercrete and Paper Adobe A Revolutionary New Way to Build Your Own Home for Next to Nothing "papercrete is essentially a type of industrial strength paper maché made with paper and cardboard, sand and portland cement." "When it hardens up, papercrete is lightweight, an excellent insulator [that] holds its shape even when wet, and is remarkably strong," Solberg continues. Although papercrete is still being studied and understood it can reduce waste going to landfills and provide affordable housing.

Alternative Building-Anyone Can Do It!
Building with recycled materials can benefit all of us and with the options available you can still have the home you want. As a matter of fact, the wood you can salvage is often much higher quality than what you can buy today. Older wood is from old growth and has less knots and more strength. You can even make insulation from shredded newspaper or carpets from recycled milk cartons. Choose to be environmentally conscious and build a better world for your children! To learn more about green building techniques and strategies please visit the articles section of my site.