Building & Renovating
When it comes to building and renovating there are a lot of forces at play encouraging you to tread down the well worn path of mass produced, easily accessed, quick to install materials, which in the case of renovations, usually follow the indiscriminate ripping out of what was previously in place and sending it all to landfill.
When we are putting joinery into our homes it can be difficult to think of the day in 20 or 30 years when someone will be taking it out again to 'modernise'. However, this is the reality and materials such as MDF which is a type of particle board used in cabinetry are very difficult to recycle or reuse. Aside from the toxic chemicals such as formaldehyde contained within them, by virtue of having mixed materials, such as laminate board glued or baked onto them, it is difficult to seperate out the various components for recycling.
So, if we can encourage you to take the slower, more expensive, but ultimately more rewarding route of using or reusing sustainable materials, and diverting as much of the old materials from landfill as possible, we think you will be stoked with the end result.
Here's a few ideas, and please send in loads more, so we can make a tough job a little easier!
Second Hand: Source good quality second hand materials such as doors and windows prior to starting a build or reno, and then adjust accordingly to make them fit. Trademe and second hand building supply yards are a great place for these. For any doors and windows send them in the same direction and you may even get a few dollars for them.
Single material: Where possible try and use materials which are made up from one component so that it is easier to recycle at the end of their life. For example when insulating recently we put in polyester insulation because although it is derived from a petro-chemical, 40% of it is made up of recycled plastic bottles and it only has one ingredient so will be able to be recycled at the end of it's life.
Gib board / wall board: Standard gib board makes a great mulch or can be really easily composted as it is basically paper and lime. We found it quite easy to peal the paint layer off of it and then break it up for composting. Check here for a link to a literature review with much more information on this subject.