It is difficult to write about the 3 R’s (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle) as separate entities as they are all part of an interconnected design strategy. For example, by reusing materials we are reducing the need to manufacture new materials as well as reducing the amount sent to landfill and the transportation involved. Thus, by reusing we are reducing our ecological footprint, which includes the carbon dioxide, water pollution, air pollution, soil erosion, and chemicals involved in manufacturing and shipping building materials.
While the building code requires us to use treated pine lumber, stainless steel nails, foil tape, etc., there are still plenty of ways to reuse all manner of stuff both in the house and on the property. For example, second-hand doors and windows are easy to come by on Trade Me and at the local renovation center.
Rimu French doors purchased on Trade Me waiting for installation.
Second-hand windows installed. (House paint is on the way.)
Faced with the removal of half a ton of damaged wall board, we turned a liability into an asset by using it as mulch for establishing our food forest, veggie garden and potato patch. Dry wall is made of gypsum and paper. As long as it is not painted or 'aqualine' (tinted green - used in bathrooms and treated with a fungicide) clean wall board can be used as a garden mulch and soil amendment.
And finally, partially rotted rafters we found in the corner of the yard along with some old roofing paint and gib clouts pulled from the aforementioned wall board provided just the raw materials we needed to resurrect the poor old mailbox we found under the house.