Eco-tip: Here are ways to reuse of construction and demolition debris
David Goldstein, Special to Ventura County Star Published 10:00 a.m. PT March 21, 2020
Recycling is difficult in some rural parts of Ventura County, so people living in those areas have come up with innovative reuse ideas we can all benefit from knowing.
Perhaps the most clever and artistic recent effort involved reuse of corrugated metal roofing formerly used on a storage structure next to a cabin in the Los Padres National Forest. Since clean steel is worth only about 3 cents per pound, hauling the bulky metal pieces all the way to a scrap metal recycling yard would have been time consuming and expensive. Hiring a commercial hauler would have cost even more.
Instead, the Daigle family had a great idea. They cleaned the corrugated metal roofing and attached it to the underside of the cabin’s ceiling in one room.
Now, at least in that room, the cabin has the feel of an even more rustic outpost, as if the roof is just a sheet of corrugated metal. Of course, the real ceiling and roof are above it, providing insulation and protection from the elements.
Larry Daigle used another piece of corrugated steel for an artwork in front of the cabin. He painted an American flag on it, and the corrugation makes it look like the flag is waving. It also provides a wind break for the cabin’s patio.
Continuing their reuse efforts, the Daigle family tilled the gypsum from drywall into their soil in an area in need of increased porosity and decreased acidity; placed removed carpet under mulch for a garden pathway; and repurposed a 1940s cast iron sink as an outdoor bird bath.
In another rural area of the Los Padres National Forest, north of Ojai, the Dreamcatcher Animal Sanctuary used Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace to arrange some innovative reuse of items already in their second cycle of reuse. Long ago, a truck hauling large panes of glass crashed along Maricopa Highway.
The entire load was going to be disposed with the wreck, but instead, the three remaining intact pieces of glass were saved and installed as windows in a nearby lodge on the property now known as Dreamcatcher Ranch. It is now owned by Lola DeVonne Lapteva, an actress who stars in the television show “Badland Wives.”
She has turned it into an animal sanctuary which provides a “forever home” for several species of animals, rehabilitation programs for veterans with post traumatic stress disorder and therapy programs for children on the autism spectrum.
Last year, to bring the ranch into Ventura County code compliance, Lapteva demolished the lodge and other structures built without permits.
Rather than disposing demolition debris, she complied with county recycling requirements by documenting impressive reuse efforts. Listing materials online as “free to a good home,” she met someone building a guest house in Ojai, and he carefully removed the lodge windows for reuse in his structure.
She also separated, sorted and sold demolished lumber to a neighbor for reuse and firewood; gave away single pane glass windows to the builder of a greenhouse; and even found a reuse for 600 pounds of broken concrete, giving it to a neighbor who used it for the trim of a walkway.
On the other side of the county, off East Guiberson Road near Fillmore, Allen King orchestrated some impressive reuse at his century-old King and King ranch.
“As a third-generation farmer, I have lots of practice with reuse, and as the father of a fourth-generation farmer, I care about saving resources,” he said.
“We save good pieces in separate containers for pine, oak and treated wood,” he said. “Except for the treated wood, we use the small scraps for firewood, but the big pieces, we use for repairs or enclosures. We use the treated wood for base plates.”
The King family found a reuse for some large, heavy-weight plastic sheets during a rainstorm last year.
“We had just dug trenches when the rain set in,” said King. “We quickly built a shelter over the trenches and used the plastic as a tarp to keep the rain from making it worse.”
For those of us who live in urban areas, Habitat for Humanity’s two ReStores in Ventura County make reuse easy. The ReStores sell donated surplus and gently used home improvement items. These stores sell furniture, hardware, tools, lumber and drywall in lengths over 4 feet, doors, windows, flooring, lighting and other items.
Proceeds from the non-profit ReStores, in Oxnard and Simi Valley, benefit Habitat for Humanity, which organizes volunteers and mobilizes resources to build and repair simple, decent housing in partnership with people in need.
Eco-Tip is written by David Goldstein, an environmental resource analyst for the Ventura County Public Works Agency. He can be reached at 658-4312 or firstname.lastname@example.org.