Window Pains

We are within sight now of having the window replacement project completed. I can count the remaining windows to replace on one hand (without using every finger!). It has been a long process of DIY, learn as you go. We have discovered the nests of black ants, the abandoned tunnels of carpenter ants and a few windows that were never insulated when originally installed!

Carpenter Ant Damage

As the project winds down (just two more good weathered Saturdays?), I have accumulated quite a collection of old windows. One window literally fell apart as we were tearing it out; the frames just fell away from the sashes, luckily without breaking any glass.

I do have uses for two of the replaced windows. We chose not to purchase new windows for the detached 1-car garage since it’s not insulated or even drywalled on the inside. The current windows in the garage look as if they are held in only by silicon and screws, and will probably fall out before too long if not repaired. Once the windows in the house are all replaced, I plan on using two of the windows taken from the house to replace the two in the garage. They will be a huge improvement over the current ones. Some new paint on the outside will have them looking just fine.

But that still leaves me 13 old windows of various sizes to get rid of. As a graduate of a college program that taught sustainability above Reading, wRiting, and aRithmatic, it kills me to think of driving these old windows to our city waste center. That is seriously a lot of trash, and I just can’t bring myself to do it. I have seriously tried to cut down my family’s weekly garbage by emphasizing how much can be recycled through our municipal recycling program, cutting our trash to less than one kitchen sized trash bag per week (not bad for a large household). To pay to have these windows put in the trash would just kill my “recycling is for everyone” spirit.

So this morning I have made a dozen phone calls to any company I think might take window pane glass or tell me where to take it. What have I learned? That recycling food grade glass, such as glass jars or bottles, is quite easy and common. Recycling window pane glass (or Pyrex bowl glass, or car windshield glass) is not so common. Several people, including our own city recycling center, told me that everyone just takes old windows to the dump. I am more than happy to disassemble the windows, either using the wood frames for firewood or scrap uses, but I just need someone to tell me where to take the glass.

Apparently finding someone to take the glass will not be a local search. So I have expanded my search to half of Ohio, Michigan and Indiana. I have a few leads, but still need to make several more phone calls. I can justify taking one long trip to deliver the window glass much more than taking the glass to the landfill. After all, the energy saved by recycling one aluminum can is enough to power a computer for 3 hours! Surely there have to be just as compelling energy statistics about recycling window glass.

So my search continues for now. I just hope I won’t have to drive halfway across the country in order to get this glass recycled. Any suggestions?


  1. #1 by Emily on May 5, 2011 - 10:34 AM

    Kudos to you, my friend. I commend you and the strides you’ve taken to keep those windows out of a land fill! Here is a little snippet from a speech given by Donovan Rypkema – a well known historic preservation economist.

    “How does historic preservation contribute to the environmental responsibility component
    of sustainable development?

    Let’s start with solid waste disposal. In the United States we collect almost one ton of
    solid waste per person annually. Around a fourth of the material in solid waste facilities is
    construction debris, much of that from the demolition of older and historic buildings.

    We all diligently recycle our Coke cans. It’s a pain in the neck, but we do it because it’s
    good for the environment. Here is a typical building in an American downtown – 25 feet
    wide and 120 feet deep. Today we tear down one small building like this in your
    downtown. We have now wiped out the entire environmental benefit from the last
    1,344,000 aluminum cans that were recycled. We’ve not only wasted an historic building,
    we’ve wasted months of diligent recycling by the people of your community.”

    Here is the link to the full article is you’re interested.

    Click to access rypkema-speech-sustainability-portland-10012005.pdf

  2. #2 by Adam A. Ries on May 6, 2011 - 7:04 PM

    Thanks for the comment, Em! What a great quotation; I think I found a place to take the glass, I will post about it next week! Along with some new photos of how the chiropractic office is looking.

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