Materials You Can Reuse or Recycle When Renovating Your Home


Renovating your home can be a satisfying project. There’s nothing more exciting than knowing your home is going to have a fresh, new look. Renovations can be as straightforward as giving your walls a fresh coat of paint or as complex as a total makeover on the interior and exterior of the structure. No doubt, a properly renovated home can definitely make it prettier. But more than that, your home becomes more livable and more functional. Best of all, it boosts up your property value.

But there’s a catch: home renovation projects can generate a considerable amount of construction and demolition waste. The congregation of concrete rubble, chunks of wood, bent and rusted cables, and broken glass becomes an ever larger pile. That doesn’t include old appliances, furniture, fixtures, and decors that may be thrown away as the renovation gets underway.  

Do you know that, for instance, the US produces around 3 times more waste materials than the global average according to recent recycling statistics? Although construction and demolition debris are mostly recyclable, recycling these waste materials is rarely practiced. This creates a significant waste management problem for the community and strains local landfill capacity.  

Before designating renovation-generated waste materials into waste disposal, it’s highly recommended that you first identify which materials are recyclable and how they should be reused or repurposed. Here are a few examples:


Debris from smashed concrete walls, floors, pillars, and other structures are often the first to be relegated to the waste dump. But do you know that rubble can actually be used as an effective filling material that’s free of charge? Use the rubble for the construction of concrete barriers, steps, flower boxes, platforms, and pathways.

Alternatively, you can donate the rubble to your local government; they could use it in road works and structural repairs.


Renovations that work heavily on wood materials often generate a lot of sawdust. Rather than throw the dust away, collect the sawdust in a big bag or a sack. Sawdust has a lot of uses:

  • Sprinkle some sawdust on any liquid on the floor such as dripping oil from your car, a kitchen spill, or a blot of wet paint. Sawdust is extremely absorbent and can quickly soak up moisture.

  • Mix sawdust with manure. Blend this mixture into your plant soil. This soil conditioner is a nitrogen-rich supplement that keeps your plants healthy while retaining moisture for longer periods.

  • Mix sawdust with wood glue to form a paste. The paste can be used as wood filler for tiny holes and cracks.

  • Mix sawdust with melted candle wax. Pour the mixture into the cavities of an egg carton and let cool. You can then use the briquettes as a flame starter for your fireplace, barbecue grill, or campfire.

  • Use sawdust as a flocking material for scale models, dioramas, and other crafts.

Used bricks

You may be demolishing an old brick wall or fence as part of your renovation project. Sift through the rubble and collect bricks that are still in usable shape. You can use them to build walkways, outdoor fireplaces, barbecue pits, flower boxes, and other structures.

Check your area if there are brick recyclers. They can crush old bricks so you can use the resulting sand as concrete aggregates. These finely crushed bricks can also be reprocessed into new bricks.

Drywall debris

Many modern walls and partitions are made of drywall, which are easy to install or break down. Modern drywall panels are primarily made of gypsum, which is quite useful in agriculture. Gypsum is used to lower the soil’s acidity and improve its water retention, allowing healthy plants to grow. Crush drywall debris as finely as you can and sprinkle the resulting dust on your garden soil.

There may be drywall recyclers in your area where you can deposit your drywall debris. The harvested gypsum can then be utilized in a number of applications:

  • binder for clay used in tennis court surfaces

  • main material used in gypsum blocks or mortar for construction

  • processed as alabaster, a material used in making sculptures

  • substitute for wood

  • used as a pollutant remover. Tests have shown that it can remove lead and arsenic in contaminated water

Paint cans

If your paint containers still have paint in them, give them to friends, colleagues, and neighbors who also have painting projects of their own. If no one needs your excess paint, you should contact a hazardous waste disposal specialist to get rid of the paint.

However, do keep the empty paint cans because they can be repurposed. Using a drill, punch some holes at the bottom of the paint can. Fill it with some gravel and sand. Add loam on top of the mixture. Now, you can grow your favorite flowers, herbs, veggies, and other plants in your paint-can pot!

Empty paint containers can also be used as containers for tools, nuts and bolts, extra nails, and other things that you don’t want cluttering in your garage or shed. If the containers still have their lids, you can use them to store used cooking oil, motor oil, fuel, and other hazardous waste that you need to dispose of later.

Roofing materials

Most roofing materials cannot be reused. However, you can still repurpose asphalt shingles---especially if they’re still in good condition---in various ways such as a roof for your doghouse or tool shed. You can also break them up and use them as a pavement aggregate.

Other sturdy roofing materials such as slate shingles can be recycled into floor tiles for your outdoor barbecue platform, garden feature, outdoor steps, or your bathroom.

If the roofing materials are too broken to be reused, gather them up and send them to our local recycling facility.  

Waste generation is unavoidable if you’re undertaking a home renovation project. However, you can still give a second life to these waste materials. All you need is just a little bit of creativity and resourcefulness along with a sense of responsibility to preserve the environment.

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