How To Create a Recycling System that Fits Your Lifestyle

Setting up a home recycling system can be messy.  Here are some simple solutions to have an organized and convenient home recycling system. Pre-plan your home recycling system Before bringing in any bins or containers, assess how much you consume and how often your recycling is picked up or needs to be dropped off at a public center. Call your local trash company to ask about their recycling policy, what materials they accept, and if the items need to be pre-sorted. Many people think about recycling and think they need an area to organize and sort items by type: glass, plastic and paper.  But many communities today allow all recyclables to be placed in one container, no sorting required. Determine where your recycling system is best suited Determine where you have enough space to make an effective home recycling center. Kitchens are the most common area, since most recyclables originate there. Kitchen Recycling Center Rethink how you use the storage in your kitchen…Space under the sink, or inside a cabinet to the side of the sink, is most convenient for being able to reach recycling containers. Move items that are used less often to other parts of the kitchen.  Corner cabinets make great recycling areas, since they can sometimes be awkward for storing standard kitchen items. Pullout containers with multiple bins can be installed. They come in 2, 3, or 4-bin options depending on how recycling needs to be sorted and how often it is picked up.

At a minimum you will need 2 bins, one for recycling and one for regular trash. For smaller kitchens, a garbage can with multiple bins built in may be the solution. Since paper recycling can take up a lot of room, try sorting most paper items away from the kitchen—in an office or family room, for example, where you may already do your reading and sorting of mail. Recycling holding area outside of the kitchen If your kitchen is too small or just not right for your recycling area, try creating a holding center in your garage, laundry room or mud room. Now that you’ve determined where your recycling should go, you can put storage bins in place. If your recycling company allows one container for all recycling, you can use a large container (no sorting necessary) or use a few smaller containers. Recycling tips Once you establish your recycling center, the process is simple.  Here are some tips to help keep it as easy and effective as possible:
  • Recycling areas do not need to be large or use expensive recycling containers. They just need to be functional.
  • Use plastic bags or totes to store materials for recycling. Paper bags can be leaky and rip easily. Try to use smaller containers, as they will be easier to lift when full.
  • Label recycling bins to ensure materials are separated correctly.
  • Choose products with the highest percentage of "post-consumer" recycled content.
  • Clean bottles and tins before putting in the recycling bin. This prevents insects and unpleasant odors, both at home and at the recycling station.

Once your system is set up, recycling is easy!

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