Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Reduce, Reuse, Freecycle

Throughout our kitchen deconstruction and renovation, we were pretty proud of ourselves for staying focused on ensuring that as much of the "waste" material as possible was diverted from the landfill.  In my original post on the deconstruction, we discussed a 97% diversion rate.  Unfortunately, that was based on the assumption that everything we wanted to divert we could.  In some cases this is easier said than done.

We had done our homework and had a sense of what could be diverted, but held on to it.   Our thinking being that it was better to achieve a critical mass for some of these products before we began diversion.  i.e. how  you dispose of 1 lb of drywall and 1 tonne will be different.  It was also to keep me from having to run to the scrap yard every week. So we sorted it and stored everything in the basement.  Now that we are adding a basement bathroom we kinda need that space so we began the process of clearing some of it out.  [Sidenote: I would strongly advise finding a better storage spot than the basement, having to carry 1150 lbs of drywall downstairs and then back up was stupid].


As much as possible we are re-using material.  This is the greenest and most economical way of working.  No new materials to produce or purchase helps the planet and the pocketbook.  We are re-using the lumber from the interior wall we removed upstairs to build interior walls in the basement (which works really well because the slightly lower ceiling height means you can cleanly trim damaged stud ends).

We are also re-using most of the old insulation that is coming out of the walls, just not in walls.  Newer Roxul insulation provides better insulation per inch than our current 30 year old insulation but the old stuff still has life.  So it is going into the attic where space is not a concern.  We figure by adding the  insulation to the  attic we can boost the already strong insulation there by 50 - 60%.

Some of the material, while still re-usable, no longer had a place in our house. So the challenge was getting it in the hands of people who could use it.


If the material was in good enough condition we sold it using the online classifieds service Kijiji.  Free listings and decent size audience meant we were able to sell the hood fan, kitchen cabinets, countertops and sink fairly quickly.  The hood fan went into a main kitchen, the cabinets/countertops were broken into two sets and went to different cabins.

For materials that didn't have a significant monetary value we used freecycle.  This is an online forum where you are able to give away used (or new) goods.  The whole idea is that what is garbage to you probably has value to someone else.  So they connect the two people together rather than see the material in the landfill.

Our dining room cabinets (they were not prefabricated cabinets so not in excellent condition when they came out) and our basement fluorescent lights both found homes thanks in part to Freecycle.

I will point out you can also list things on Kijiji for free as well but we like the spirit of Freecycle and haven't had a need to post elsewhere.


Material that can't be re-used needs to be recycled. For the metals this is fairly straight forward .. I hope.  Our old piping, wiring, nails and other scrap metal don't take up a lot of room so we are still stockpiling. But local scrap dealers are plentiful and we should be able to make some money disposing of this.

Montreal has 6 eco-centres through out the city.  These centres collect various "waste" with the goal of properly diverting or disposing of it.  To date it is where I disposed of:

Full Load for Eco-centre
- Wood waste: broken / damaged boards and odd trimmings
- Brick Mortar (from the fireplace fiasco)
- Old Dishwasher
- Wooden Pallets
- Drywall

For all the above, I am comfortable knowing this material will be recycled or disposed of in the greenest way possible... except the drywall.  The city of Montreal doesn't recycle drywall to my knowledge but I was reassured by the eco-centre hotline and the on-site attendant that it would be.  When the drywall was dumped into a bin with aggregates I had renewed concern.

Which is too bad because gypsum (the main component of drywall) has great after life uses:
- it is a natural fertilizer
- can be reused in new drywall

Luckily there is a gypsum recycler in Quebec:  Recycle Gypse.  The service costs money but gives you peace of mind that your waste is being properly disposed of and they come to your house to pick it up which means I will never again have to stuff 1000lbs of drywall in the back of the minivan.


  1. In the spirit of promoting a greener future, I've created a website about reducing your environmental impact, and saving money while you do it! Check it out.

  2. Great and very detailed post!
    Totally feel the need to re-vamp my own house..