Monday, June 9, 2008

Waste- The Environmental Impact of Siding Removal

Our project this past week was not without its environmental impact. We ripped close to 800 sf of siding off of our house, most of which is a hazardous waste. On paper, the option with the least impact to the environment would have been to leave the siding on the house. This would have prevented 1.6 cubic yards of asbestos siding and tar paper from entering the landfill.

One must consider, however, the impact of improving and renovating older homes. A nice looking home helps the entire community. It helps to create a sense of place, a sense that the neighborhood is a "good" neighborhood that should be preserved and promoted. One of the best ways to lessen the impact of homeownership on the environment is to buy a used house in an urban area close to things like a grocery store, restaurants, bookstores, etc... a downtown area. By making these homes MORE attractive, we can hopefully "stem" the tide of mass construction spreading across the farmlands.

The Waste:
~1.6 Cubic Yards of Asbestos Siding (~546 sf) and Tar paper (wrapped in 16 heavy duty plastic bags and duct tape)
~1/2 Gallon of Nails and Screws
~A VERY Large Pile of 1x3 Wood Boards
~200 sf of Steel Siding

How We Lessened the Impact:
1) I posted an ad on Craigslist and Freecycle offering asbestos shingles free to anyone needing to patch up their house. Sadly, no one took me up on this offer (which did surprise me, as I have seen people asking for them).

2) We carefully saved all of the nails and screws, and will hopefully be able to either reuse them for other projects or recycle them as scrap metal.

3) Our wood pile is full, so we plan on offering the wood as firewood or taking it to the city recycling center to be mulched.

4) We carefully removed the steel siding so that it could be reused, either on our backroom renovation or on someone else's house or shed. At the very worst, we can recycle it as scrap metal.

5) Finally, we bought as many of the needed tools used as we could. We couldn't find respirators used, but did find an old chipped chisel (perfect for chipping out the nail heads) and a set of vice grips that were perfect for my tiny hands.


Jenni said...

Good Post Jennifer. There is big money in scrap metal now days. At least it is being re-cycled and not land-filled.

Mike@RuralRenovation said...

Sometimes it's a tough choice between being "eco" and giving up something you want/need.

The important part is that you are making the effort and doing the best that you can.

Good for you!

Green Fairy said...

Nice post. Craigslist has been amazing for re-homing things we don't want anymore. I've been surprised at what people will actually take--beat up desks, broken light fixtures, cardboard boxes, even live trees! And we've managed to find so many things for our house, too, through Craigslist.

But I do feel guilty about some of our projects; like when we ripped out the smelly old carpeting--I couldn't think of a reuse for it, but felt horrible throwing it away.

Anonymous said...

That's great news. Craig's List is good.
One thing, if you offer the wood as firewood, make sure it is not treated or covered in any chemicals that would be bad for lungs. More then likely that wood is fine, but just to be on the safe side.
Keep up the good work.

Allie said...

You're not replacing the siding either, you're repairing the brick, right? That's a significant mark for the "plus" side. Vinyl siding is awful, environmentally speaking.

Mike@RuralRenovation said...

"Vinyl siding is awful, environmentally speaking."

Not just environmentally. I've never been a fan of the look either.

There are some really nice molded siding solutions on the market now. They look like wood are dense like wood, but are made from recycled plastic.

Robj98168 said...

I did the same thing on my recent addition to my house
1- Donated the old windows and front doors to 2nd Use, a habitat for humanity Salvage Center here in Seattle
2- Wood- put on side of road with a free wood sign. Of course no good deed goes unpunished, someone decided I was giving away my compressor and helped themselves!
3- Screws nails etc- put in recycle bin - they claim they want scrap metal
4- I chose vinyl plank tile flooring Looks like wood feels like wood- the green factor?- I didn't have to get rid of old flooring- just installed over it!

fred@opc said...

Sorry I'm a little late on keeping up (we're in europe right now!) .. The change from the siding to the brick is MAGNIFICENT -- looks so much better. Looks like you've got a lot of work on your hands to get things back to an original workmanship-quality state, but just removing the siding was a huge step in that direction.

So far, we're 4 for 4 on Craigslist free. We just got rid of an older refrigerator in literally 2 hours on a Sunday night. I'm also surprised that no one took you up on your shingles - rarely to craigslist free items go unwanted.