One of my former graduate students in Design and Environmental Analysis told me that something like 25% of all landfill waste in America comes from new construction. [The number here is inevitably off, but it’s in that ballpark.] So every time you see a new house, a new apartment building or condo, a new strip mall, or a new subdivision–just think of the landfill.
What goes there? Various bits of wood and siding, from very small to very large. House wrap and insulation. Shingles and roofing paper. Caulk, adhesives, and other oozy products. Nails, screws, bolts, and every other connector. Various wires and pipes. Drywall, empty paint buckets, and more. Not to mention all the packaging that everything comes in–hard plastic, soft plastic, cardboard, and paper.
Some of this can be recycled (especially the paper and cardboard), but most of it usually heads to the landfill–and I suspect without much thought.
When we built the garage, we decided to use (wood) board and batten siding (if I were a true tech-y, I could make a link to a photo there; but once again, I’m not!). We chose board and batten siding because we were trying to make the garage look as barn-like as possible and we thought it would look nice. But at the end of construction, there was an added advantage of choosing wood: we could save some scraps (those large enough for repairs or other useful purposes such as making shelves or birdhouses), but we could just burn the rest. It would have been nice to burn those scraps in an actual fireplace to produce heat, but we don’t have one (yet) and the wood was in the way. Overall, though, burning is a relatively safe form of disposal–at least for things like wood.
Contrast burning those wood scraps with what we had to do with the bits of drywall from the garage: all of those went in the back of Ron’s truck and to the dump to the tune of $12 a load. Cheap. In fact, too cheap.
When picking the siding for the house, we opted for wood again, this time old-fashioned clapboard. We preferred the look, but we also liked the idea of reducing the landfill footprint of the house. Consequently, Ron has set two bonfires in the past few days to deal with the various wood bits thus far.
With polar vortex #3 this winter about ready to hit, the “yard” around the house is now mostly cleaned up. But inside, several contractor-grade bags of waste are already piling up and there will be much more in the coming weeks and months.