Recycled building materials can cut down on the environmental impact of construction projects when they are chosen wisely, with an awareness of the distance traveled, resource use involved in their production, and composition. Many large communities have a facility or facilities that handle reclaimed and recycled materials, and it may also be possible to go directly through a contractor for some products. Consumers who want to use recycled building materials should be aware of the risk of greenwashing, where companies make environmental claims that are not actually backed by the products they produce.
It is important to distinguish between recycled and reclaimed or salvaged materials. Recycled building materials are made with some percentage of post-consumer content and can include things like glass, engineered wood products, ceramics, and so forth. Reclaimed and salvaged materials are used materials that are removed during demolition and other activities, cleaned up, and sold for reuse. It is possible to use a mixture of recycled and reclaimed materials, depending on the need.