I don’t know about you, but at the end of the year, I like to make plans for the following year.
I’ve long since given up on New Year’s Resolutions, per se, but I do like to have goals and projects in mind. And I constantly seem to have projects around the home that I never get around to! Our home was built in the 1930’s, so there is always something that needs our attention. And it’s home improvements and DIY that can get in the way of a Zero Waste lifestyle. Invariably there is debris and waste that accumulates after even the smallest project. I’ll admit, it’s so tempting to just take it to the local landfill site or hire a skip.
However, construction waste is problematic. In fact, according to DEFRA, construction, demolition and excavation accounted for 62% of the UK’s total waste in 2018. Aside from the obvious pollution, some construction waste contains hazardous substances. There might be left-over paint, mercury from old light bulbs or asbestos to deal with. And while some waste cannot be recycled, other items can be found a new lease of life. It’s keeping these things in consideration that is the foundation of responsible construction waste removal. Here are some things to bear in mind:
- Reduce From The Start
Before you even begin your project, plan each phase carefully with the resulting waste in mind. We always say that your Zero Waste journey starts before you get to the checkout, and it’s no different with construction projects. When you think of materials to use, consider what kind of waste you’ll end up with and how much. More importantly, plan before you buy, so you don’t end up with excess. It’s very tempting to get that extra piece of plasterboard or length of wood, but if it isn’t needed, it’s wasteful.
This will make you mindful in every step of the process. And because you’ll be more conscious about the waste you produce, you’ll likely be saving costs too.
- Sort And Salvage On The Go
Sorting will allow you to carefully identify which items can still be recycled and reused. If you don’t do this, you’ll likely be left with an overwhelming pile of stuff that you just want to throw in a skip! So if you were having a party for friends, you’d leave clearly marked areas for your guests to put their recyclable materials. It’s the same with a DIY project. Designate clearly labelled areas for all your materials, such as:
- Reuse – items that may still have use by you or someone else
- Hazardous waste – potentially hazardous waste that needs specialist disposal
- Recyclable waste – unusable materials that can be recycled at your local centre
- Review – miscellaneous items you’re not sure yet what to do with
For miscellaneous items, just go over each item again when you’re done with everything. This will give you more time to decide. The beauty of setting up your space like this is you’ll likely have less clean up time!
- Deconstruct, Do Not Demolish
Demolishing creates more waste as it destroys all materials, including those that can be recycled and reused.
To cut down on waste, check for parts that can still be used even for other projects before you start disassembling structures. Deconstruct carefully, ensuring that removed parts stay intact as much as possible so they can still be reused or recycled.
This will leave you with more useful materials and less waste. What’s more, it might save you from having to buy more new materials for your next projects.
- Reuse Or Donate
If you’ve created your designated areas before starting your project, you’ll have a stash of things that still have useful life. So now it’s time to divvy up whether there are items you are going to keep or donate to others.
For the materials you saved but can’t use, consider donating them to charity projects, offering them on a gifting site such as Freecycle, or selling them to a salvage yard to recoup some of your money. If all else fails, contact your local recycling centre to see what you can take there.