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At DRN, we often come across articles that discuss where materials end up once a house or building is demolished. More often than not, those materials end up in our landfills and never get any chance at a second life. Last week, Forbes came out with an article that discusses how many materials could be recycled from demolition sites and suggests that recycling may be the best option for bettering our environment. There is no doubt that recycling is extremely important and should be utilized when necessary, but I ask, “What about ReUse?” ReUsing materials from demolition sites can have astounding results that not only keep our landfills less jammed, but also creates more jobs than recycling.
Here is an example of the jobs created:
If you take 10,000 tons of materials and:
- Incinerate it = 1 job
- Landfill it = 6 jobs
- Recycle it = 36 jobs
- Reuse it= 28-296 jobs
Sources: US EPA, and Institute of Local Self Reliance
When I brought up this topic with our team we discussed how more knowledge of ReUse is greatly needed. DRN team member, Paula Wise, posted this comment on the article:
“Recycling is great, but I hope this Forbes series will discuss reuse. As a nation, we have done a really good job getting people to recycle. Now it's time to take it to the next level and increase reuse awareness. There is a reason the phrase is ‘reduce, reuse, recycle’. So many items can be reused in their original state. It's a shame to see these items ground up and recycled and not be reused.”
I feel more people need to know why ReUse is an excellent option for building materials that would otherwise end up in the landfill. It is estimated that 34,000,000,000 tons of construction waste end up in our landfills and that is scary! If more people looked into deconstruction, where materials would be ReUsed, that number would be so much less. For instance, deconstructing one 2,500 sq. ft. ranch style home can divert 25 tons of construction waste. Could you imagine if more people got on board with choosing deconstruction over demolition and ReUse over recycling?