talking trash

I've been a bit obsessed by the construction waste from this project. The LEED for Homes criteria and the city of Portland both require careful monitoring and full recycling. But unlike the build-and-get-it-inspected documentation of most of what happens, there isn't any teeth to this mandate, as it would be easy to fake it, or at least underestimate your junk quotient. Yet most people are sincere, I think. I've been fascinated to see just how much C&D (construction and demolition) waste we'd make, and have taken pictures of everything that has left the site and where it went. So far it breaks down into a few manageable categories: dirt, wood, drywall scraps, household-style recyclable materials, and landfill-bound.

Each weekend I load up the trash and recycling and bring it back to our rental home and put it on the curb. It has pretty much not even been more than an average household makes anyway, with cardboard from packaging and plastic and cans from drinking taking up most of the additional recycling. (Yes I admit it, I pull out the refundables and turn them in for my nickel... curse you Mother!) Plastic wrapping from construction products and simple trash make up the consistently small amount of landfill trash I bring.

The wood scraps have been a personal hurdle, as I had toyed too long with the idea of eventually burning them in our sealed-combustion Rais wood stove after we move in. We' re discussing small, more unusable pieces than you'd guess here: scraps of dirty sheathing, 8" trimmed ends of sidng, over-nailed window corner packaging. But I've broken down and yesterday the little nuclear and I began the first of multiple pick-up trips to the grinder place, where they'll charge me a scant ten spot and make mulch. The visuals were getting too much.

Drywall scraps go back to the supplier (they, too, charging to take them) where they'll end up supplying needed lime to farmers' fields. Boy was I tempted to turn them over in the back yard.

The details count, too. Jake River gets two cents for every nail or screw he finds, and we use a magnet to comb through saw dust prior to throwing it out the window. Ashes to ashes, dust to dust. The nails, along with hard plastic items that won't go into the household recycling, paint cans and other trickier stuff go to one of a variety of recycling places that can be found through the amazing services and staff at Metro, if you're here in Portland.
Of course, if you're still smoking plastic filter cigarettes, there's no good place for those filters. Try googling cigarette filters in the ocean. My suggestion is this: you're gonna die sooner anyway, so at least roll your own non-filters or smoke a good cigar with me, I'm always game!