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10 Ways to Recycle while Building New Homes


Fill ‘em with dirt and pound them.  They make great retaining walls in a rammed earth tire dwelling.

Chris Newton supplying dirt for his Darfield Earthship build, photo by Monica HolyDirt:

As in…as cheap as.  When you excavate the foundation for the rammed earth tire dwelling you will be reusing that dirt you just took out to put back in the tires.


As in cord wood wall.  The interior walls of the house can be fashioned from cement and pieces of dried cord wood.  Quite attractive actually.

Pop cans:

The interior walls of earthships use pop cans as space savers between cement courses so that not as much cement is used.

Booze bottles:

Believe it or not, they make the most amazing, almost stain glass window effect when placed in an interior wall of an earthen structure.

Broken up concrete driveways:

The pieces make an excellent walk way or foot path throughout your yard, or  it can be crushed into smaller pieces and mixed with crushed stone to be re-used again for a country driveway.

Funky old Fixtures:

Like chandeliers from a turn of the century rail way station or a 100 year old claw tub.  I love ‘Jack’s in Burnaby, B.C. for reclaiming these treasures before the buildings get demolished.

Reclaimed lumber from OLD barns:

The beams are usually lovely, although rustic wooden floors are splendid too.  Just run‘em through a planer and often they’re as good as new.

Unique doors & stained glass windows:

From demolitions these are a real treasure.  Sometimes I find them at auctions especially in rural areas.

Straw Bales:

My buddy Karilee (that’s not her in the photo) insists I add this one  to the list because she thinks making a house from straw is the coolest thing, so after the seed heads are collected, we have an alternate use for what otherwise would just be mulch.

And there you have it. Ten ordinary things (and ways) to recycle that can be used (and reused) into the construction of your new home.  Bet you didn’t see the booze bottles coming though did ya?

Image credtis: Monica Holy, theregeneration, jessicareeder, xebede, nolaclutterbusters, Jeremy Levine Design, Colin Rose

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