How do you organize your recycling? (Pics?)

owl_at_homeSeptember 7, 2007

Hi everyone,

I usually post on Building a Home, but I recently started lurking here, and it's a wonderful forum! I am currently building a house and have the intimidating job ahead of planning all my storage and "organizational" space. I really want to do it right, as I am a terrible housekeeper and I want to make everything work to my advantage.

Anyway, my husband and I really want to start recycling more. We try to do a few cans, but in our current house we just don't have any room to organize this type of stuff. We burn most of our cardboard, but again, it just piles up in the corner of the kitchen until DH gets around to burning.

In our new home, I will have a lot more space and I really want to set things up right in the beginning to make recycling feasible. I was thinking of having space under the kitchen cabinets for one or two bins to hold the stuff and maybe a little area for flattened cardboard.

We have minimal requirements for recycling in our county. All materials can be mixed, and they don't have to be crushed or anything. We live out in the country, but there is an independent hauler who will do a roadside pick-up weekly. Or, I could haul it into town every week or two and take it to the recycling center or have it picked up at my office.

Could anyone share how they organize their trash/recycling? Pictures would be great.


Here is a link that might be useful: Owl's home blog (pictures)

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Hi Owl! Here's a link to all kinds of recycling bins and containers which might get you started. It all depends on your space and how you want to go about it. Have fun looking.

Here is a link that might be useful: Recycling solutions

    Bookmark   September 7, 2007 at 1:27PM
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I had to stop and think about how we handle our recycling, and then I had to laugh. It goes like this:

1. We pitch everything into a big, ugly blue crate outside the back door.

2. When it's full I nag my son to empty it.

3. At some point it shows up empty.

4. My son naggingly reminds me that recycling collection is in two days. He tells me the recycling is bagged up in the shed and ready to go.

5. I drive my car over to the shed and discover that 50% of the recycling is inside bags that are way too dusty for me to put in my car. The other 50% hasn't made it into bags yet.

6. I go back to the house and get clean bags. I rebag, etc., until a) my car is full, or b) I get tired of doing it, whichever comes first.

I don't think you want to adopt my system.


    Bookmark   September 11, 2007 at 11:15PM
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Hmmmm, hope you get some responses/pics because I'm looking into the same thing.

Our current set up:

Have a very small galley kitchen w/ no room for recycling so have resorted to a tall(ish) narrow(ish) bin (the tallest one for dog food @ target) in the laundry room (off kitchen w/ door to garage) which we use to put all recyclables in (our indoor bin). Once it is full (which happens pretty quickly) I carry it out into the garage where we have the blue & green bins provided by the city, and an additional bin of our own because we need another plastics one, into which I divide all the stuff in the indoor bin.

I'm trying to find something really tall & very narrow which I could use and already separate the paper from the plastic without taking up too much room in the laundry room. No luck as of yet.


    Bookmark   September 12, 2007 at 10:49AM
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#5 on claire de luna's "recycling solutions" above seems ideal to me-- it's what i plan to do. just lift out the bin and take it to the dump, or empty it into the bin provided by your town for pickup. or line one with a paper bag and use it to put recyclable paper into.

    Bookmark   September 12, 2007 at 8:24PM
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Owl, I love your house!

    Bookmark   September 12, 2007 at 10:23PM
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Thanks for the responses, everyone. Those multiple pull-out undercabinet bins look pretty cool. Did you see #15? It has four!

If anyone has a good system set up (or a bad one - LOL, alisande!), I would still like to hear about it or see pictures, but I think I have a pretty good idea what I'm going to do.

Thanks, marti8a (about the house)!

    Bookmark   September 12, 2007 at 10:41PM
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My very first shot with a digital camera. I can tell this is going to be fun, but no comments about my messes. It's 9:30 and I just got the short people in bed.

As you can see, we have an old fashioned kitchen set up with the appliances sitting side by side (there really is a tiny cabinet between them.) I have a strange little nook which previously had our paper, scissors, etc. with all of those colored drawers sitting in there. Once we started having recycling, I knew it needed to be out and easily accessible. I measured the space and then purchased the three flip top trash containers. We have mixed paper, cans/glass and plastic sorted there. It actually holds 80% of our trash. I have a Rubbermaid bin in the garage for newspapers and we stack cardboard boxes next to it.

We do not have any type of recycling program that is curbside or easy to do. We have to haul it across town and it must be sorted according to #1 plastic, #2 plastic, #4 type bags, cans, glass, mixed paper, newspaper and cardboard. All flattened, etc. You have to be motivated to recycle here. No fee reduction in the trash pick-up, no matter how few bags you have. The recycling center is a for-profit operation.

    Bookmark   September 13, 2007 at 1:46AM
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We have almost no space for recycling. We put everything except paper into a big blue bin that sits on the steps leading down to the basement. We actually have two bins, and the second balances on top of the first.

Paper is put in paper bags at the bottom of a broom closet. We have room for two bags. If we go over that, I keep a bag in my office, which isn't ideal, but is hidden.

I only posted because I have heard people say that they don't have room to recycle, and I figure if we can recycle, almost anyone can.

    Bookmark   September 13, 2007 at 12:12PM
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We have a garage attached with the door from the laundry room. DH put four large shelves right beside the dorr, in the garage. We bought four large recycling bins, one for paper, cans, cardboard, plastics. Glass goes with cans because they are easy to separate. Every evening whoever is cleaning the kitchen (we take turns) tosses the recyclables into the correct bin. Then, on recycling day, we take all four bins to the curb. The pick up guy really likes it because he doesn't have to sort anything. We have pick up every week, but we often just put out the bins that are full (usually paper and cardboard). Works great !

    Bookmark   September 30, 2007 at 10:54AM
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I keep the paper recycling in a completely separate place. I keep it in the DR, by the door (note: me kitchen is NOT by the door.

All newspaper reading takes place in the DR; all mail is dealt w/ in the DR. So it would actually be annoying to have the paper recycling in the kitchen where trash & paper/metal/glass are. Occasionally we open a box of rice, or something, that means we have to carry it across the DR to throw away. But that's not actually that often.

This saves me from having to have THREE trash containers in the kitchen. Which is good, bcs the kitchen is small enough as it is. (we don't separate glass/plastic/metal; it all goes in the same can downstairs)

To get the two-can pullout under the sink, my kitchen designer told me to have the plumber put all the pipes he could--shut-off valves, and dishwasher drain, etc.--on ONE side of the sink. This means that the OTHER side of the sink completely open, and I could put a pullout there.

(note: I don't have a garbage disposal; that makes more room under the sink, which is esp. good since I have a small sink base)

    Bookmark   September 30, 2007 at 10:55PM
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In the kitchen I have a pullout that holds two fairly large plastic bins. Paper goes into one. All other recycling into the other. I keep a brown paper sack in the one for paper. When it's full, it goes into the garage to await a trip to the recycling center. When the other bin is full, I take it outside. There we have large rubbermaid containers with tight fitting lits (and a clean garbage bin for plastics). Everything is labeled: "Glass", "tin", "aluminum" and "plastic". I empty the bin from the kitchen into the right container. When one of the containers is full, I make a trip to the recycling center (usually every 2-3 weeks).

Cardboard is flattened and stored in the garage until I go to the recycling center.

    Bookmark   October 4, 2007 at 1:12AM
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I have the same pullout as zone8grandma and it works well for us. I, too, put paper in one in a brown paper bag and all other recyclables in the other. We are fortunate to have curbside recycling for everything except mixed paper which we take to a recycling center. The large bins for newspaper and other, non-paper recyclables from the company that picks up the recyclables stay in the garage. We empty the kitchen bins into them as they fill up and then set them at the curb the night before pickup day. The mixed paper stays in the brown paper bags for transport to the recycling center. Thankfully, we don't have to sort our recyclables for pickup. It all goes into the same bin in the garage.

    Bookmark   October 11, 2007 at 8:44AM
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I keep my recycling outside, in the driveway. a large plastic can for plastic,glass,and cans. And a square container for newspapers. The town picks up and empties the can and box on alternating weeks. The cans are not attractive but they are hidden by bushes. They are near the garage door.

    Bookmark   October 12, 2007 at 8:58PM
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The new place I moved to has mandatory recycling and supplied a blue bin for plastics, glass and cans. There are also 2 bags, 1 for newsprint and the other for all other types of paper including cardboard, envelopes, magazines, etc.

The kitchen has no cupboard space for hiding any recycling so I am still trying to figure out where to keep it. The choices are either on the deck or the hall closet floor once I make room there (today's job?). My biggest problem is not immediately bringing the items to the recycling bin so they end up on the kitchen counters. Obviously, if the bin were in the kitchen, I could just throw the items in there but I tried that and really don't like how it looks out in the open.

Do you have an interim staging area for the recycling items until you physically move it to its permanent bin? I know this sounds lazy on my part but it's one of those things that I'm finding very hard to change my ways.

    Bookmark   March 3, 2008 at 10:44AM
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I keep my recycling bins outdoors, next to the garage. Green for newspapers and cardboard, orange for glass and metal. THat's all my town recycles. I don't like keeping stuff indoors, it looks too much like garbage.

    Bookmark   March 3, 2008 at 9:56PM
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Marie--can you keep a small garbage can under the sink for all plastics, glass & cans? Then you can take that smaller amount over to the big bin outside, either when it's full, or whenever you set up a "take out the garbage" routine (DD's chore for after dinner, or just before bed?).

You could even put whatever paper is generated in the kitchen (pasta boxes, e.g.,) in there, and transfer it at the same time.

And can you think of the bulk of the paper recycling tas NOT KITCHEN recycling? Have a paper recycling spot that's newspapers, bills, catalogs, magazines, somewhere else?

    Bookmark   March 5, 2008 at 10:09AM
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Marie - I use one of those taller rect. containers with a swinging lid. The blue bag fits nicely, only a couple of inches of the folded over top edges show under the lid itself, and no one 'knows' what's inside, plus it doesn't take up much space at all. I use it mostly for glass and plastic - with cats, I need a separate little step-on can to hold all the cans they go through, but it dumps into the blue bag on the day.

    Bookmark   March 5, 2008 at 12:15PM
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Lucy, where did you get your taller rectangular container? What are its dimensions?

    Bookmark   March 5, 2008 at 12:58PM
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It's just over 2' high at the middle, sloping off either topside by an inch or two, x 11 wide (one flat side to the wall, the other towards you) and 15"ish wide on top (side-to-side) tapering to 12-ish at the bottom. I painted mine so it 'disappears' into the wall. Got it at the local Home Hardware (do they have those in BC?).

    Bookmark   March 5, 2008 at 3:31PM
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Where I said '11 wide' I meant 'deep' (front to back).

    Bookmark   March 5, 2008 at 3:33PM
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There's a Home Depot very close to me but I've never heard of Home Hardware. I'm going to look for this because it might solve my dilemma. Jannie pointed out what's been bothering me. If the recycling isn't out of site, it does look too much like garbage.

    Bookmark   March 5, 2008 at 3:38PM
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Is there room in your kitchen (or pantry, or mudroom) against a wall to erect a 4' wide (long) x 3' high x 16-18" deep sort of fenced in corral behind which you could put the various containers (1 ea. for cans/glass, paper & plastic - even if the plastic ends up in the first one eventually, there's usually so much of it!)? You could paint the thing, decorate it, panel it with molding, etc. and half round on the edge, and/or even have a short lift-up flap. We're all stuck with having to do SOMEthing about it all, and not everyone has an ideal set-up or built in tip-out bins, etc., so while it would be nice not to have them at all, maybe we can try to get over that and just do the best we can - and who in the end does it matter to after all - at least we''re trying to save the world :-)!

    Bookmark   March 5, 2008 at 8:44PM
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First of all, nice home pictures! Do you have any specific instructions from your recycler as to keeping materials seperate? A few years ago our recycler dropped all restrictions and just gave us a large barrel container and said to mix everything in there.

We kept the open rectangular containers we sorted in the past and just have one outside out kitchen door in the attached garage. We toss anything and everything in there without seperating it. If the new trash sized container didn't have a lid (it does) I would just put it in that spot next to the door. But it's easier throwing the stuff into an open container. As it fills, we transfer it to the larger, lidded container that the recycler picks up. It is so much easier when you don't have to seperate!

    Bookmark   March 6, 2008 at 3:11PM
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We must separate our recycling into 2 bags plus one container. They're so strict that we aren't even allowed to throw away prescription bottles. At the store today, I saw a nice 3-part metal container to be used for recycling but it cost a hefty $120.00. I'm looking for a cheap way to tackle this.

    Bookmark   March 6, 2008 at 6:03PM
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I found my much sought after tall & thin (depth wise) cotainers a couple months ago and finally have the system I was going for :-). They are laundry baskets that are nice & tall, normal width, but shallower so they don't take up much of what little walking room I have in front of the machines. I found them at Big Lots, which was a nice $ savings.

On one wall of my laundry room I've got the 5 containers lined up in a row, and I labeled the flip up lids: 3 for laundry (colors, whites, towels), 1 plastic & 1 paper. When these are full they are dumped into the bins in the garage.

Not fancy but just right.

    Bookmark   March 6, 2008 at 7:23PM
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Right now, I live in an apartment (recently divorced with a toddler), so the larger-scale recycling I did at the house is not happening due to space. However, I continue to recycle paper.

I have a box in an out of the way corner. Every bit of paper, mail, magazines & flattened food boxes go straight to the box. I don't keep paper around in piles.

I only take out the box when it's really full. That way, if I end up "throwing away" (aka recycling) something or accidentally getting rid of paperwork I need to retrieve, it's all in the box for a decent amount of time, and all in a decent date order.

Many times I think I should take it out more often, but those rare times I've accidentally tossed a bill or something important & had to dig for it (and actually find it!) makes it all worth it.

    Bookmark   March 7, 2008 at 5:56PM
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Everyone's been very helpful and because of your suggestions I think I have come up with a solution that will work.

Gayle, that is an excellent suggestion. I am going to put a box in the office and throw my "unneeded" papers in there. When full, I'll get rid of them at that time instead of doing it each week.

In my kitchen, I purcased a 4-shelf metal rack to hold the microwave, breadmaker and rotisserie since there is a plug on that wall and I didn't want to have these items on the counter and move them as I needed them. I can use the bottom shelf for the newspaper, boxes and tin/glass/plastic recycling. I just have to find 3 containers that will fit there nicely.

    Bookmark   March 8, 2008 at 5:26PM
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You already have some great ideas, but here's more input.

In my kitchen, I have two auto-opening trashcans - one for garbage and one for recycling. They're labeled, but apparently none of my guests can read - I'm always pulling trash out of the recycling after people are over. Next to them is a small aqua basket for glass, which we're required to put in a separate bin.

Next to my desk I have three little cardboard wastebaskets - one for garbage, one for recycling, and one for stuff-to-be-shredded-or-burned.

I have a pretty small house, so aside from the tiny wastebasket in the bathroom that's about it for trash/recycling throughout the house.

At some point I'll post pictures, as I'm pretty pleased with that one point in my organization.

    Bookmark   March 8, 2008 at 6:53PM
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We have single-stream recycling (everything goes in one giant bin which is picked up weekly). In the house, I keep a small garbage can for recyclables, which gets emptied into the big bin once a week or so. Also a plain brown paper bag for recyclable paper. I prefer to keep the paper separate until time for pickup, since I can tie or staple the bag and (hopefully) not come home to bits of paper scattered all over the lawn.

I keep a small plastic bucket and spatula under the sink for compostable stuff, and it gets dumped in the compost bin once a day or more frequently, depending on how hot the weather is.

    Bookmark   March 19, 2008 at 4:56PM
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We have three blue bins that we bought from our local hardware store that are specifically for recycling. We keep one in our upstairs (ground floor) kitchen closet and one in the downstairs eating area. Another sits empty in the garage until it's ready to be used. Our city is working on getting curbside recycling. In the meantime, my younger stepson hauls the recycling every other Saturday to recycling bins placed around town. We do not keep items separate, so he does have to sort it (plastics, cardboard, newspaper, clear glass, colored glass, etc.). (In return, we pay for his cell phone.)

    Bookmark   March 20, 2008 at 4:17PM
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I have two angled corners in my kitchen -- the one by the cooking area holds a lazy susan, and the one just past the dishwasher has the one shown below. This picture is from the recycling site Clare de Luna posted -- Mine is a Rev-a-shelf but looks identical.

I love it! I use the three baskets for plastics, aluminum cans, and tin cans. The bins aren't huge, so they fit easily into my car. We don't have recycling pick-up here so whenever one is full, it goes to the recycling center. Paper and glass go into baskets in the garage.

PS -- thanks for the link, Clare!!

    Bookmark   March 21, 2008 at 11:55PM
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We live in the country, too. There is a weekly trash pick up service in our area, but we don't use it. It takes us a month or two to fill a single 30 gallon trash bag. When one is full, I take it to the trash & recycling drop off and pay a by-the-bag fee that is probably one tenth the cost of the pickup service.

I have made a concerted effort to stay off mailing lists, and we still get plenty of junk mail, which we shred. We have poor soil, so the shreds get sprinkled wherever we need the organic matter the most. I'd rather compost than burn. Yeah, I admit, sometimes it looks like confetti on our lawn, but the lawn is getting thicker!

We compost vegetable scraps from the kitchen, autumn leaves, etc.

As for cans and bottles, we recycle everything possible. Only non-recyclable plastic and meat bones find their way into our trash can, even with all the decluttering I'm doing with the help of FlyLady.

Household items that are useful to someone else go to the Re-Use It Center, or I Freecycle them on the front porch.

At first, I used a couple of cardboard boxes for the recyclable materials. But leaking liquids made them messy. So I replaced them with clear plastic bins that could be washed. I measured the shelf in the garage where we keep the recycle bins. I went to two or three stores that had a good selection of plastic storage containers. I used my measuring tape to be sure that whatever I got would fit into my space.

I only need two boxes. One is for styrofoam, which shares space with a bundle of #2 & #4 plastic bags. (The bags are easy to pull out at the recycle place.) The other box holds cans, recyclable plastic & glass, which is how my local recycle place wants everything sorted.

I also got a smaller box with a snap-tight lid. The mice chew aluminum foil and make a mess, but with the lid, I can keep foil out in the garage with the rest of the recycle stuff.

When I have trash and/or recycling, I drive it over to the place which is also conveniently near some of the stores I need to visit anyway. I can combine my errands and save gas. It works out well for me.


    Bookmark   March 25, 2008 at 9:51AM
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Quiltglo, thank you for recycling even though it's such a pain for you!

Owl, your home is beautiful!

    Bookmark   April 12, 2008 at 3:32PM
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Since I have to recycle, I will not subscribe to any newspapers (something I had always done). It would cause me that much more to deal with.

    Bookmark   April 12, 2008 at 4:14PM
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