Practicing sustainable disposal

The old-school approach to demolition was to push the old yard into a trash bin and send it away to the landfill. Now we realize that nothing ever really goes "away" and that everything we dispose of causes problems somewhere else.

Instead of treating the unwanted parts of your existing landscaping as waste, see whether anything could be useful in constructing your new landscaping: soil, trees, broken concrete, bricks from your old patio, useful plants, or artsy junk. Set these reusable castoffs aside for later use.

Also be sure to recycle where appropriate. For example, send green waste to the local composting operation instead of mixing it with other materials in a trash bin (call your local trash hauler or municipal solid waste department to find out about the options that are available in your area). Separate recyclable metals, concrete, and soil, all of which may be of value to others even if you can't use them. Craigslist, Freecycle.com, and the local classifieds and bulletin boards are ways to find homes for these useful castoffs.

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