How to recycle your house

Probably easier than you think. It just takes a little thought in advance, and the patience to set things aside.

With summer holidays looming and figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics already showing householders are increasingly keen on renovations – potentially due to a “batten down the hatches” feeling in the face of the global economic situation, and locally the subdued property market – there’s bound to be a rash of work happening over the break.

Notwithstanding the tradie drought that happens in the those first few weeks post Christmas when everyone is off enjoying their summer break, it’s the perfect time for DIY – rip out those cupboards you don’t like, tear up a few paths, or redecorate the living area.

This time last year when we were busily tarting up our old ’50s home to live in, I asked the guys to set aside any building materials we thought could be given a second life. Oyster lights, old ceiling fans, grotty looking taps, doors, and a kitchen cupboard or two among them.

When an excursion was needed to the secondhand building shop to hunt for a door, I optimistically packed off these few boxes of goodies, thinking there is no way they would take them.

But not only were they accepted, the shop even offered a few bits of silver – and gold – to pay for these dusty goods. So, it seems, even tragic ’70s fixtures could potentially find a home somewhere.

And personally, I was slightly embarrassed to accept funds for them – it seemed like I should be paying the store for the privilege.

A few months later we were upgrading a rainwater tank and had a small, battered one to remove. It wasn’t good enough to sell but too good to melt down. The solution? Through a handyman, we found a pensioner who was grateful to have it installed at his house.

This week, it came time to jackhammer some cement paths. A google of “recycle cement” didn’t produce much in the way of advice as to how to go about it. But one call to the bin company and I learned that as long as it’s all clean cement, recycling it is as easy as chucking it into the skip.

Not long ago we had to get rid of some trees and general junk at the same time – it worked out cheaper to get two bins – ones for green waste, and one for general disposal, and the green waste bin could then, at least, be munched up into compost.

I now keep a big box in the garage for redundant house things that, instead of throwing them in the recycling bin or skip, I will drop off at the next visit to the second hand building shop.

The collection includes curtain rods, old carpet squares, left over tiles from the previous bathroom, replacement parts for a blind and a couple of tins of half-empty paint in colours that we definitely won’t be wanting to use again.

Many secondhand building stores also take bigger items – such as steel and timber, including flooring and fencing. Even old shower screens, and of course, baths.

Another way of recycling parts of your house you now longer need is to advertise the goods for a low price, or even free if you just want to get rid of them on various websites. It’s the modern, more targeted version of putting your goods on the nature strip and hoping someone will take them. We’ve rehomed an old mattress and an unwanted printer this way.

I don’t often have the patience, or the eye to trawl through second hand shops for building goods but this week I am hoping to give someone else’s former junk a new home when I set out on a journey to find two screen doors and two windows for a short-term renovation to last a few years before we finally succumb to the need for an extra room.

Fingers crossed someone has bothered to set aside just the right-sized windows from last summer’s renovations.

Source: This article was written by Carolyn Boyd and originally appeared here.

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