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Recycling Your Old Wood and Metal Building Supplies

Recycling protects the environment and contributes to a more sustainable society. Choosing to use previously commissioned wood and metal can also save builders money, as many of these materials can be obtained for free or for lower prices than those that are brand new. In many cases, only a little creativity is required to find new ways to implement old materials. If you have no use for available metals and woods in your proximity, consider submitting them for recycling and processing so that they can be molded into new forms. With this simple act, you’ll be doing your part to conserve energy, save natural resources, and protect the environment.

Reusing the natural resource of wood ensures that new trees will not be cut down to make more materials with which to build. This, in turn, can directly support wildlife habitat, increase soil viability, and even help make air cleaner for breathing. Finding ways to make pieces of wood new again also lessens the burden on landfills that are already overflowing and taking up much space on the Earth. In addition, recycling helps contribute to the efficient use of energy, as power is conserved when using old materials instead of expended on the collection and manufacturing of new raw materials. Recycling materials even helps bolster environmental initiatives and creates jobs for those in the recycling industry, which can positively affect the economy.

Recyclable wood is everywhere: Clean timber and dimensional lumber can be ripe for use in new projects. When building with previously used pieces of wood, you’re more likely to save money, as recycled materials can be easier to obtain and cheaper to purchase than those made out of new timber. But generally speaking, wood that has been chemically treated in any way, such as painted or stained, cannot be recycled due to the contaminants contained within these agents. Wood with chemical treatments like these needs to be disposed of in particular and safe ways, though it might be able to be incorporated into your personal home projects. If you must buy new wood for construction purposes, consider purchasing only the certified variety. Wood that falls into this category has come from areas and forests that are managed responsibly and with sustainability in mind. Start looking at limbs and stumps in your yard for recycling inspiration: Even fallen limbs and old stumps can be chopped up and applied to your living space in creative ways. For example, wood chips can be used to cover your landscape or create a garden.

Several different types of metal are recyclable right from your home. Aluminum, bronze, brass, cast iron, copper, tin, and steel are all potentially reusable sources of metal. The only types of metal that are not able to be reused are those that pose health hazards or are radioactive, such as mercury, uranium, and plutonium. Despite these limits, recycling approved metals as much as possible can have a significantly positive effect on the environment and on new construction initiatives. Reusing scrap steel, for example, can significantly reduce water and air pollution and lessen the load of waste materials associated with mining ore to create new metal. Some estimate that it protects as much as 70% of these natural resources. It can be important to realize that many different types of metals can be recycled to create new metal materials. For example, simple soda cans can help create high-grade steel used for large-scale construction projects.

When preparing metals for submission to a recycling plant, consumers should take certain measures to support the metals’ integrity. For example, steel and aluminum cans need to be cleaned and rinsed to wash away debris. Plastic, rubber, wood, and paper parts attached to the metal items, like nozzles and paper wrappers, should be removed. Reusing metal is one of the best ways to conserve power, as it can require four times the amount of energy to make new steel than it does to recycle it. It should be noted that some cities and towns have rules and regulations that govern what types and how much metal they will accept for recycling. It’s not uncommon for some cities to have a limit on the weight of metals that they will remove from a home’s recycling bin at one time.

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