R-E-C-Y-C-L-E: Find out what it means to me!



Earlier in the blog, Nelson introduced the six principles that he chose to employ in the eco-thrifty renovation of his Castlecliff home. One of the principles not yet discussed is Recycling, and due to a recent recycling frenzy at the house, he’s asked me to share the full experience with you all.
First off, let me preface by saying that recycling is the last step in dealing with materials from the renovation. Unlike the common perception that recycling is a really green way to get rid of extra materials, reusing or repurposing them on-site is really the ideal first step. All things have “embodied energy,” or a long story of energy inputs from their growth, manufacture and transport to their present location. For that reason, we’ve been attempting to keep as many materials on-site as possible to minimize waste and maximize efficiency. For example, we’ve been stockpiling boards torn from a dilapidated deck to reuse as lumber for a shed or firewood, and old roofing iron is used to cover wood piles and for all sorts of other projects.

We’ve managed to divert about 95% of the materials from the site by reusing them or selling them to others who can use them. We found an old hot water heater that doesn’t jive with our new solar hot water system, but that didn’t mean we brought it to the dump. First, some resourceful thieves discovered that the inside contained valuable copper, and then we found insulation that could be reused and stuffed into our ceiling.
Finally, we were left with the galvanized shell of the heater, a worthy candidate for the recycling center. Other things discovered in every nook and cranny on the property were also prime subjects for the scrap yard. Rusty iron bars and twisty pipes, bicycle parts pulled from the depths of the agapanthus hedge, bits of lead, a car battery, and corroded, scrappy roofing iron were all gathered up and loaded into our little rented trailer for the ride of their life.


We brought two full loads down to the recycling center, a wondrous place with bales of aluminum cans, mountains of refrigerators, and a bright purple car that sits on top of the office, a beacon to all who pass. Our first load was transferred onto a great scale and rounded out at a healthy 250 kilos. The second round was 165 kilos, making a grand total of 415 kilos of scrap metal gleaned from our yard.

Since most of the material was iron, it was all bulked together for a single price per kilo, with the exception of the valuable battery, a lucky find. We left the recycling center with over $100 in our pockets, a spring in our step, and peace of mind that we’d once again diverted quite a load of material from the landfill.

– A. Lamb Down Under

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