The Best Recycled Materials to Build With

Building or renovating a home can be a costly endeavor from both an expense and environmental perspective. Using recycled building materials can reduce cost, lessen the carbon footprint of the project, reduce landfill space by reusing re-purposed materials, and can even add value for buyers in the market for an Eco-friendly home.

Whether you are building your dream home or just remodeling a kitchen, it makes a lot of sense to use recycled building materials for the project. You will sleep soundly knowing you've not only saved a considerable amount of money, but you've also limited your impact on the environment.

Many states like New York, Delaware, and Maryland are providing great tax credits for people who build new homes that are energy efficient, as well as retro-fitting their homes with green materials. New home builders in Delaware that focus on building sustainable homes are seeing a great increase in business. Here is a list of some of the top recycled building materials being used today in construction and remodeling projects.

Recycled Glass Countertops

Recycled glass countertops are beautiful and environmentally friendly. They provide a cool and modern look, and they are extremely functional and long lasting. Installation is easy, requires little demolition effort, and the finished product resists heat, scratches, and stains. Recycled glass is both durable and maintenance free.


Bamboo is the perfect alternative for traditional lumber. It is sustainable, strong as some metals and has the unique ability to bend and flex more so than wood. It is one of the fastest growing plants around and, because it is actually a perennial plant as opposed to a tree, it is sustainable and its use helps to reduce deforestation.

Reclaimed wood

Traditional construction methods produce a ton of waste and unused materials. Any effort to repurpose these materials, including wood, helps to limit the amount of trash filling up landfills, can reduce the cost of a project and provide the peace of mind that fresh lumber was not harvested to produce the wood.

Reclaimed wood is another great way to save money while caring for the environment. Despite its direct impact on trees, the production of new lumber’s greatest environmental impact actually comes from the amount of resources required to produce the wood. Reclaimed wood saves trees and is produced with a large reduction mechanical effort.

Recycled Steel

Considering recycled steel’s reduced need for new material, as well as its strength and endurance, you might want to skip using expensive wood beams for your next building project.

Construction workers and architects are simplifying the home framing process by customizing recycled steel beams to fit their home design and construction needs.

While a 2,000-square-foot home might require 50 trees to build, a recycled steel frame would require only the material taken from six scrapped automobiles [source: Steel Recycling Institute]. Huge amounts of scrap steel are recycled every year and the recycling process reduces the energy produced in making the steel by 75 percent. And this doesn't even consider the saved space in landfills.

Re-purposed Cabinetry

Often a fresh coat of paint and some new hardware or pulls can turn your existing cabinets into a re-purposed finished product that looks brand new. Installing custom or pre-built cabinetry represents a huge expense for kitchen remodeling projects. There is also the large amount of demolition and waste created from removing the older cabinets. Why not consider a cabinet makeover as opposed to a complete replacement? You can save lots of money, reduce waste, save time and have the peace of mind that comes with being environmentally conscious.

Whatever you’re remodeling or building needs, consider using materials like recycled glass countertops to help both your wallet and the environment.

Vanessa Pruitt, PLMHP, MS

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