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Recycling Building Materials: Shocking Uses For Unusual Recyclables

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This post was originally posted here: Recycling Building Materials: Shocking Uses For Unusual Recyclables

We are officially in the midst of the era of green initiatives. If you haven’t noticed yet, more and more people worldwide are catching on to the fact that most materials can be recycled, and if they’re not, we’re harming our environment and in turn harming ourselves.

With green issues becoming very real, it’s been easy for most people to hop on board the green train, but there is still a lot out there to learn about really “going green.” What unexpected materials can be recycled? And what can we do with all of these recyclables, how can we reuse them?

Believe it or not, there are a ton of materials in the construction industry that are being put to waste on a daily basis. These materials can surprisingly be reused to build new, creative and innovative buildings and homes that have never been seen before.

So board the green train and come alone for the ride as we explain some shocking uses for recycled building materials and take a look at some seriously green homes.

What Can I Recycle?

Aside from the normal recyclable materials that we’ve grown accustomed to separating from our normal trash, certain materials used in building and demolition can be recycled for reuse in a new building or home.

The usual large pieces of timber and the always coveted dimensional lumber can of course be salvaged before a demolition and reused in future projects. Any scraps of these materials can also be used in a new construction.

Wood flooring and wood trim are also very recyclable items. Instead of encouraging the flooring industry to cut down more of our precious tress that provide us with clean oxygen to make new wood flooring for a new home, think about using wood that’s been recycled, and certainly recycle your wood floors if you’re planning a demolition of any sort.

Cabinets can always be reused, too, as long as they are removed carefully. And surprisingly, concrete can be ground and used again for a new construction, and double-pane windows and non-hollow doors make great items for reuse.

Additional industrial “scrap,” aside from these items commonly found in homes before demolition, include scraps of aluminum (perhaps commonly found on a construction site), batteries, used motor oil, corrugated boxes, fluorescent lights, scrap steel and plastic, pallets and automobile tires.

Still wondering how some of these materials are possibly recycled and reused in construction? Here are just a few surprising examples.

Kaleva Bottle House

There is a home in Kaleva, Michigan that is constructed entirely from recycled materials, mainly bottle wall construction. The house was built way back in 1941 and is still standing, with around 60,000 bottles sitting on their sides with the bottoms facing outward.

The bottles are lined up and cemented in with dirt. The home was constructed by a man who owned (surprise) a bottle manufacturing company. In 1980, the home was bought by the Kaleva Historical Society and converted it into a museum, but it still stands as a perfect example of a completely “recycled” home.

The Beer Can House

The Beer Can House is a landmark in Houston, Texas, constructed entirely from recycled beer cans. The house owner, John Milkovisch, is a retired upholsterer who used to work in the railroad industry and he began construction on the home back in 1968.

Milkovisch grew tired of mowing his front and back yards, so he covered them both with inlays of marble, piece of metal and rock. But when the yard was finished, Milkovisch wasn’t. He then moved on to the house, covering it in “new siding” consisting of flattened aluminum beer cans until everything was completely covered.

Some consider it a work of art, others just a cool sight. Garlands of cut beer cans adorn the exterior of the home, hanging from the roof all the way around the house, that are beneficial for reducing energy costs within the home.

It is a truly incredible monument to recycling, using an estimated 50,000 cans of beer that Milkovisch himself (with the help of his wife and neighbors) drank.

Recycled Materials Cottage

The Recycled Materials Cottage was designed by Juan Luis Martínez Nahuel, who was looking to build a house completely from preserved demolition materials in Panguipulli, Chile.

The house was built using parts of other houses such as the glazed doors from a 1960s house, eucalyptus flooring from a 1970s house and commercial laminated beams and pieces of steel from a former temporary exhibition.

The windows are all glass and the house is separated into two sections based on areas of most and least privacy. The interior is naturally decorated to continue with the recycled theme.

The house itself is a natural monument to the recycling and reuse of scraps of industrial materials that has never been done before.

Tire Houses

Yes, there are several houses out there today being constructed from recycled tires. The tires are packed with dirt, piled side by side and on top of each other and covered with plaster or recycled concrete to form walls.

The rubber of the tires provides several benefits in terms of safety and protection. In areas where earthquakes are of concern, the rubber provides a bit of give in a case of the earth moving beneath the house, and the rubber will never degrade like wood often can.

As far as the benefits for the environment go, well, they’re quite obvious – an average-sized house using tire wall construction can recycle up to 2,000 used tires that would otherwise pile up in landfills. Plus, the tires add natural insulation to the home that cuts down on the use of synthetic materials for insulation and reduces the energy use of the home.

So the next time you have a home improvement project on your list, remember to recycle even the most unheard of items, because you never know what crazy architect or green enthusiast might want to use your recycled industrial materials to build a new home or building of their own!

Recycled Materials Cottage Photo Credit:

Jackie Ryan is a freelance writer who lives in a normal-architecture home, but is keen on the green initiative. Any times she does home improvement projects, she makes sure to use the best industrial material handling companies to recycle her old building materials and she encourages everyone to start thinking of doing the same.

Read more at Talking About Green


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