Recycling a bag of broken wood

Filed in Blog by on September 22, 2010 8 Comments
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Mrs Green knows the fate of her bag of broken wood

Mrs Green knows the fate of her bag of broken wood

Welcome to day three of my ‘zero waste with little emissions‘ challenge. Antonio, one of our readers, wants me to experience life in his shoes. I have to imagine I’m not a car driver and I don’t have kerbside collections, then I have to get rid of five items responsibly.

Yesterday I had to deal with 3 bags of garden waste, which proved problematic. Today I have a bag of broken wood that I’m not allowed to compost.


I have to say this is an easy one for me. I have a hungry woodburner and broken wood is his favourite meal. So I’m going to break it up into kindling and use it to keep us toasty during the winter.


If I didn’t have one, I would offer it on Freecycle – lots of people offer free firewood and it gets snapped up as it’s a popular form of heating around here.


If, for example, the wood was covered with creosote or varnish and was not suitable for burning then I would be confident that Mr Green could turn it into something amazing. For the past 3 years I’ve been growing carrots in a parge tub he made from broken floorboards. He has patched up a shed which a friend gave us for firewood because it was full of holes – it’s still standing and in use 8 years later in our garden! Little Miss Green’s tree house is made from gash wood, some old chicken wire and a rusty piece of corrugated tin, so a bag of broken wood is not a problem.

All this week you are my judges. Give me a score out of 10 in the comments below. Yesterday I had between 5 and 6 and we had a bit of a heated discussion going on about why I wasn’t allowed to compost.
Tomorrow’s is a horrible challenge – it’s a bag of rubble!

About the Author ()

I am a long time supporter of the Green and Sustainable lifestyle. After being caught in the Boscastle floods in 2004, our family begun a journey to respect and promote the importance of Earth's fragile ecosystem, that focussed on reducing waste. Inspired by the beauty and resourcefulness of this wonderful planet, I have published numerous magazine articles on green issues and the author of four books.

Comments (8)

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  1. I love the tale of your shed for firewood still standing 8 years later πŸ™‚

    I think a high 7/10 for your efforts, Mrs Green – but what about the folks like us that don’t have a woodburner or open fire?

    Mr Organikal would be hard pushed to make any constructions, although he did recycle some old fence panels into our new veg beds πŸ™‚

    But if there was no garden for veg beds, then I’m thinking that I’d try to construct bird houses from the wood and paint them to sell on.

    But then I know, the bag of wood would sit there for ever in waiting πŸ˜‰

    And if the wood was too broken to be recycled into a bird house? Could you rent in a wood chipper and make chips for mulching? Not if it was treated with nasty things.

    Oh, this one’s just as hard as the others … really makes me appreciate our trips to the recycle centre in the car…

  2. Hazel says:

    Our freecycle often has people offering hardcore- might be a way of getting rid of your rubble?

    I like the shed story. Someone gave us an old waxed pine chair to burn as it had a big split in the seat. It was waiting in the front garden, and a neighbours visitor rescued it (he did ask first!) and has repaired it, so it’s a useable chair again. :o)

  3. Antonio Pachowko says:

    The problem with wood is that it is not easy to distinguish between what can be recycled or not. For example bare wood can be recycle to Medium-density fibreboard (MDF) or chipped as feed to biomass burners whilst painted wood or those that have been chemically treated cannot. This type of wood cannot either be chipped and burned in biomass burners and so you are limited in what you can do with this wood. In fact most painted wood has to be landfilled as this is the only option (wood is carbon neutral), so you have only answered half the problem and I give you a score of 5/10.

  4. sandy says:

    9/10, burning would be my favourite too, good luck tomorrow

  5. Ben says:

    This would be a difficult one for me too. I don’t have a fireplace any more, it was replaced with a gas burning back boiler and fire. It emits CO2, but there’s no solid waste to throw out, so it’s very good on one environmental aspect at least.

    As for rubble, it does have some uses. Small chunks of brick or stone are good for filling up the bottom of pots as drainage and weight to keep them from falling over. Unfortunately, it’s not quite the time of year for potting things. Hardcore for someone’s building project is possibly your best bet.

  6. Mrs Green says:

    @Julie Gibbons: It does get you thinking, doesn’t it? Thanks for joining in and giving me your score πŸ™‚
    @Hazel: Love the chair story and thanks for the freecycle idea too πŸ™‚
    @Antonio Pachowko: Hi Antonio, I felt I covered the painted / varnished wood in the reuse idea as I am aware not all wood is suitable for burning…
    @sandy: Yay! a decent score at last; thank you Sandy πŸ™‚
    @Ben: Thanks for your thoughts ben and the great suggestions about small rubble πŸ˜‰

  7. H0gg1t says:

    For your usage of the wood Mrs G, I give you an 8.

    However as said before, it would have been another story if you didn’t have a wood burning stove! But everyone’s situation is a little different from each other isn’t it?

  8. Mrs Green says:

    @H0gg1t: Thanks H0gg1t. I did ask Antonio if he wanted me to create a fictional character with particular circumstances, but he asked me to do it as myself; hence the use of the wood burner. However, I feel confident that the wood could have been used here anyway, for numerous projects πŸ˜‰

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