Eco-Friendly & Frugal Recycling Idea for Broken Concrete

An Ingenious Use of Broken Concrete
for an Awesome Driveway or Garden Path That’s Eco-Friendly!
Help the Environment by Recycling in this Novel Way.

Have you ever given any thought to what happens to all the concrete that gets removed from residential and commercial place – like driveways or sidewalks in neighborhoods; or street or highways or huge parking lots; or building demolisions? Concrete just doesn’t evaporize into thin air! It stays around forever, basically.┬áThose broken chunks are used to make man-made reefs, along with scrap iron and other extremely long-lived trash materials. So, how can we recycle broken concrete and give it a new purpose?

Removing broken concrete from a driveway.

Artist and all-around-creative guy Tom Vanderzyl and his also very talented wife, artist Alice Bateman, were in the throes of building a brand new home in Texas. As happens with many folks, Tom and Alice looked for ways to help cut construction costs.

On top of that, they are also highly desirous of helping the environment by recycling materials whenever they can. They came up with the idea to utilize broken concrete that would otherwise end up in a landfill for their new driveway.

I think their eco-friendly repurposing of huge slabs of broken concrete to pave their new road/driveway that leads to their home is a truly awesome recycling idea! And they helped keep all this concrete out of their local landfill plus they saved a ton of money too.

Here is a view of what the bare road up to Tom and Alice’s new home looked like before the project began.

Dirt driveway before recycled concrete is set in place.

And … here’s the workers starting to lay down the recycled broken concrete slabs. Look at the size of some of these chunks! (I bet those guys backs sure hurt at the end of the day!!)

Laying recycled broken concrete slabs for the driveway.

Tom added these comments when he sent me the photos:

“So interesting is the use of discarded chunks of cement turned upside down, so that the organic side is showing. A very rough ride for cars approaching our home, but very cool to look at and there will be no speeding down the drive!

It is “green”. It is free! And it will be covered with earth and grass seeds. The earth will fill up the open areas and the grass will grow between the blocks of cement. We will not be stuck in the mud this winter! The work did cost us much more than we expected but with the free material it really fits right in.”

You might be able to think of more than one way to utilize pieces of small, medium or, like Tom and Alice, very large pieces of concrete in your garden or on other parts of your property.

How to find broken concrete for recycling? Well, keep on the look-out for places that accept dumping of broken up sidewalks and driveways that have to be removed for one reason or another.

Loads of broken concrete is available for the asking, but again, it’s first having to source out where to get your hands on the stuff. (Call construction companies that you see doing commercial concrete work – they might quickly steer you in the right direction to all the free slabs you want.)

Another thought I had while writing this post is that probably one day soon some very industrious person will be selling this (one man’s trash) scrap material for it’s chic look and “green” value.

Eco-friendly use of recycled broken concrete slabs

Alice and her dog named “D.O.G.” checking out the progress
of their eco-friendly driveway installation!

In Tom’s comments above, did you understand what he meant by “the organic side showing”? If you are familiar with concrete that is poured for sidewalks, as example, the rocks and gravel that are part of the cement mixture tend to settle down to the bottom of the wet concrete (makes sense if you think about it).

As a matter of fact, that is why you see the top surface of sidewalks or driveways being smoothed off with a tool called a float. The top surface has to be smoothed, or else it would be very uneven and “rough”.

But in this installation, Tom and Alice preferred the interesting texture of what was previously the original underside of the concrete. As most concrete driveways and sidewalks are poured on top of dirt or sand, the gravel in the cement mix settles down into the soft dirt/sand, and so you get a very rough “under surface”.

So, this is one pretty ingenious, neat, eco-friendly, and frugal way to repurpose and recycle broken concrete. Thanks, Tom and Alice, for sharing your project with us!

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2 Responses to Eco-Friendly & Frugal Recycling Idea for Broken Concrete

  1. C Borg says:

    I would love to see a photo of the finished driveway with the grass growing!

  2. Phoenix55 says:

    Very cool. Last August, a friend of ours borrowed his brother-in-law’s concrete mixer and he brought us a load of concrete for a driveway, as a kindness…well, with only three of us to do such a huge job, it was botched bad, and we all make jokes about it as America’s worst driveway. But, it is not a priority to jackhammer it out, yet. We have so many jobs here ‘on the farm’ right now, we thought we would made a stacked wall support in the back, next spring! Recycle it. 25 yrs ago, we collected broken concrete from an Army Fort, and we built many planters and walkways all over our neighborhood, and we were ‘kids’! They are still there, and still look nice. Sealing them with a water-based sealer every so often helps keep them easier to sweep off. Don’t recommend the toxic oil-based commercial concrete sealer. We are still great friends with the guy who volunteered a big job that got botched, by the way, THANKS>

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