How to recycle unwanted materials when renovating your home

When we moved into our property we wanted to totally redo the whole place to make it our own.  In fact, four years on we are still going!  Things have slowed down considerably and we don’t feel quite in so much of a rush to get it all done as the bulk of it was completed in the first year or so, but there are still things I want to tweak and change such as the door frames, architrave, staircase, artex and banister to name but a few!

Whilst it’s a dream to buy a home and make it our own, it also feels very wasteful.  Redoing an entire house from floor to ceiling with all fixtures being replaced has meant we’ve inevitably had a lot of waste along the way.  Rather than see it as waste for landfill though, it’s better to recycle, reuse and repurpose to ensure we are not filling landfill with an entire houseful of unwanted materials.

Here are some tips on how to recycle unwanted materials when renovating your home:

How to recycle unwanted materials when renovating your home

Photo by Nolan Issac


There are numerous ideas on Pinterest for what to do with old or unwanted items, materials, scraps and off cuts that can no longer serve their original purpose.  Even the architrave around your doors can be used for something, so don’t throw it away. Use the scrap wood to make cool wooden clocks, shelves, coat hooks and even entire table tops, there are a multitude of new uses for pieces of wood in particular.  Sand it back and create something new.  Old doors can be turned into coffee tables, corner shelving units, bed headboards and even as a frame for an oversized standing mirror.  Once you start using your imagination (and of course the internet) you will realise there are so many uses for what you originally thought was scrap, plus you can create some unique furniture and décor for your newly renovated home.


Most of us do hire a skip when redoing a home and this isn’t always a bad idea.  Many of the materials are recycled.  Gone are the days when its contents are chucked into landfill, but instead the skips are sorted through, treated and processed with some companies sending zero skip waste to landfill!  Many of us would automatically associate a skip with landfill, but nowadays landfill tax is high, so it’s more beneficial for the planet and the skip hire company to find other ways to dispose of the waste, which largely includes recycling.


Just because the old bathroom suite or kitchen units don’t suit our taste, it doesn’t mean they aren’t perfect for someone else.  If they were going in the skip anyway, then list them as free to a collector on sites such as eBay, Gumtree and Facebook Marketplace.  It’s always better for something to be used and rehomed where possible than thrown out or recycled.  Even recycling will use valuable resources, so reusing in the first instance is the best option.


We had a log fire installed soon after moving into our first home, so most scrap pieces of wood can be used as fuel to keep us warm.  We were even able to break down some very old fence panels that were definitely scrap to use as kindling.  If you have a stack of wood that cannot be used for anything else and is suitable for burning, then I’m sure someone with a log burner will appreciate it.  Offer to friends and family or list as free to a collector on marketplace websites.


When we redid our kitchen we installed real oak worktops which look beautiful, but we could only order the wood in certain lengths.  This meant we had to order far more than we needed so we were left with quite a large offcut of expensive wood that was too nice to use as firewood!  Instead, my husband Ben had the genius idea to create a new bathroom sink area with the worktop at the top for a counter-top sink to be placed upon and a handy storage cupboard underneath – even better as we have a small bathroom that had no storage at all before this.  If he hadn’t created this then the wood could have been used for some shelves elsewhere.

Renovating a home or even doing up a small part of it does not have to be wasteful.  There are plenty of people who can make use of your scrap and unwanted items.  Ben, my husband, is regularly collecting old fitted wooden wardrobes that people no longer want and he turns them into incredible handmade retro style desks.  Stop and think before you throw anything out.

More eco-friendly blog posts

Why everyone should eat organic food

5 simple ways to reduce waste in the kitchen

Upcycling could be the trend that changes the world

3 sustainable living mistakes that you’re probably making

Your ultimate guide to an eco-friendly kitchen

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