Recycling Home Improvement Waste for a Healthier California


Junk Removal Specialists are at the forefront of the battle to protect our nation’s environment and landfills by recycling home improvement waste. In a recent interview, Travis Mejia of Viking Property Services explained how homeowners reduce their home improvement waste…

Recycling Home Improvement Waste

Recycling Home Improvement Waste for a Healthier California

Junk Removal Specialists are at the forefront of the battle to protect our nation’s environment and landfills by recycling home improvement waste.

In a recent interview, Travis Mejia of Viking Property Services explained how homeowners reduce their home improvement waste and how re-purposing saves homeowners money every year.

Every year residents spend thousands of dollars buying landscaping products (and services) to improve their homes, gardens, and property values. Most of these products travel from other areas of the country.

A lot of waste is generated from these home improvement projects that end up in a landfill. The sad thing is that most of the waste can be re-purposed, saving money and improving the soil.

Most Common Types of Home Improvement Waste

Travis shared the top three types of waste generated in small home improvement projects like landscaping, creating raised flower beds, and installing a child’s swing set. They are:

  1. Garden waste
  2. Plastics
  3. Construction debris

Local, state and county laws often specify how specific items are disposed of. Usually, a special license is required to handle such materials as leftover paints, asbestos clean-up, and automotive oil. Here is a list of things that Viking Property Services cannot take.

What is Garden Waste?

Stop sign in front a pile of garden debris

Garden waste is any unwanted organic material produced by your garden. Organic material includes:

  • Grass & shrub clippings
  • Dead plants, roots, and leaves
  • Untreated wood shavings
  • Branches, twigs, and stems
  • Kitchen waste like
    • Vegetable peelings
    • Teabags & coffee grounds
    • Eggshells (dried and crushed)
    • Some fruits (not too acidic)
  • Unused soil amendments, potting mixes, compost, and topsoil

What options are available for garden waste?

Most garden waste is easily re-purposed and takes very little time or effort. You can easily create mulch and rich compost with just a little setup that takes very little time and saves you money.

Did you know that grass clippings left on your lawn will be invisible in 1 to 2 weeks and completely decompose in 4 weeks?

Think about the last time you purchased mulch and compost. Then ask yourself the following questions:

  1. How much did all of that cost?
    1. Tools like rakes, shovels, boarders, gloves, etc.
    2. Mulch
    3. Compost
    4. Gas to get the materials or the delivery fee
  2. Now add your time. If you assume that your time is worth $25 per hour, how much did you spend on labor costs?
  3. How much did you spend on getting rid of the leftover bags and removing debris?

After adding all of these up, how much did you spend?

How much could you have saved if you had kept last year’s yard clippings to rot on an unused part of your yard?

What are your options?

  1. Composting & Mulching – Passive Composting
  2. Worms for Hire (Vermiculture) – Active Composting
  3. Donate & Sell – Bought too many bricks or lumber? Sell it on Craigslist
  4. Promote Your Local City/School Composting Initiatives – Don’t have one. Start one!
  5. Professional Junk Removal Services

Composting and Mulching

Composting and mulching create better soils but at different rates. Mulching gives immediate results and satisfies the inner speed demon need to do something now. When you add compost to your mulching efforts, your soil health grows dramatically. However, composting takes longer and is just as low maintenance.

A garden rake partially covered by leaves on the ground with its metal tines up.
Home improvement waste includes leaves and grass clippings.

Mulching is when organic matter like grass clippings, wood chips, or old bark covers the round around your plants. When you add an inch or two of grass clippings (minus the weeds) around the base of your plants, the temperature of the soil immediately drops, and water has a place to collect. The roots of your plants get immediate protection from heat, wind erosion and have more access to water.

Pro Tip:  Since grass decomposes quickly, the nutrients are immediately available to your plants, but you need to add more grass regularly. Avoid drowning your plants in clippings by limiting the mulch to no more than 3 inches.

Per the EPA, composting has many benefits most people are not aware of. These include

  • Reduces or eliminates the need for chemical fertilizers – Big Money Saver!
  • Higher crop yields (who doesn’t want more flowers or veggies?)
  • Revitalized tired soil and prevents erosion
  • Saves water
  • Reduces carbon emissions
  • Cuts down on smelly methane in the air (smell pollution)

The EPA has a guide on ways to use compost.


Plastic is the preferred container or carrying case for loose products for decades. This material is used to hold almost everything from nails, caulking, and potting mix to liquids like glue, silicone sealants, and paints (paint pan). Due to their moldability, plastics are here to stay.

Recycling Home Improvement Waste begins in the kitchen
Common plastics that can be recycled.

The downside is the demand for recycled construction products, and lack of public outrage has not created a viable market for recycled plastics. Then add the lack of plastic recycling incentives, inconsistent descriptions of what kinds of plastics can be recycled, and locations to drop off your plastics to the mix. The picture created is not pro-plastic recycling.

While some innovative uses of recycled plastics are popping up, the demand for such items is far overshadowed by the amount of plastic available to be re-used. You can only use so much Trex style decking around your house and garden beds. Trex combines plastic and wood waste to create a strong, durable, and sustainable decking product.

Click here for more information on the progress of plastics recycling.

What options are available for plastic waste in California’s Central Valley?

In California’s San Joaquin Valley, there are options not available to most Americans to recycle plastic. Below are a few options where you can donate or get paid for your used plastics. However, each location has its own set of restrictions.

  1. The City of Modesto sells its plastics to Northwest Polymers for recycling
  2. Merced’s Recycling
  3. Elk Grove
  4. Stanislaus County Recycling Guide – an extensive list of which recyclers take what in the Stanislaus County areas
  5. Stockton’s Landfills Recycling Facilities

Construction Waste

In many home improvement projects, there is some destruction before there is new construction. When replacing a privacy fence or demolishing an old shed, there will always be some destruction debris to clear away.

Travis demolishing a hot tub in Modesto, California
Travis demolishing a hot tub.

Some of it can be re-purposed, donated, or just plain scrapped. However, before you begin removing the destruction debris away, don’t forget to add the waste from the planned home improvement.

Typical forms of home improvement construction waste include:

  • Lumber, one-use tools like disposable brushes, and packaging
  • Glues, adhesives & their containers (ex. flex seal cans & silicone sealant tubes)
  • Paint, stains, painters tape, and paint rollers

What options are available for construction waste?

Begin by separating the waste into recyclables, re-purposeful items, and trash.

  1. Recycle what you can.
  2. Sell the items you can. Extra wood, nails, bricks, and other materials are always in high demand for DIYers on a budget.
  3. Donate what is not selling.

Don’t have time to separate it all, call Viking Property Services to take the rest (curbside pick up available).

Take a picture of what you want gone and text it to (209) 872-0323 for a no-obligation, free estimate.

junk removal quote
Simply take a picture of what you want gone and text it to us

We do more than just whole house eviction/hoarder clean-ups, fire prevention acreage clean-ups, and home improvement projects. Viking Property Services also helps our local communities.

Recycling, re-purposing, and supporting community initiatives like composting and no-cost donation pick-ups for local charities is just the right thing to do.” ~ Travis Mejia, Owner of Viking Property Services

Recycling with local charities for a healthier California!

We specialize in helping the Modesto, Merced, Stockton, Elk Grove, Livermore, Lodi, Sonora, and Jackson areas. We would be happy to show you what a professional experience should be.

For more information on recycling home improvement waste give us a call at (209) 872-0323

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Viking Property Services makes it look like it was never there! Our goal is to become your "go-to" resource for light demolition, junk, trash hauling, eviction clean-ups, and appliance removal in the greater Turlock California area which extends from Sacramento south to Merced and from Livermore east to Twain Harte.

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