How to Make Recycling Easy

We all agree that recycling is a good and necessary practice. But let's face it, when it becomes a chore, it's tempting not to follow through with our good intentions. The trick to simplifying your recycling is to make it as easy as possible to do. Obviously that means having a good system in the kitchen, but it also means having a place for recycling in the bathrooms too, and creating an easy way to collect it all without having to clean up a big mess or causing a headache on pick-up day. Which leads to more time for more meaningful things! 

how to make recycling easy

So take this weekend to get a system in place. Decide where you want to store the bulk of your trash, recycled materials and compost trash if you are able to compost where you live. Find out what requirements your area has and if you need to separate paper, plastic, metal and glass. Have a big bin for each in your main collection area. That may be in the garage or basement, a closet, an outdoor area, or even the kitchen if you have enough space.  Get creative - think about free-standing baskets or bins if you don't have room in a cabinet. 

If possible, the bins should have handles or wheels so you can quickly take them directly to the curb on pick-up day (or the trash room if you are in a condo or apartment building). Hang a big bag to collect all the returnable bottles if you take them separately to a depot. Get them off the floor so they're not falling out of bins all over the place. 

Next, create a smaller version of this system in the kitchen. Choose the right spot for you: it may be under the sink, or perhaps it has its own cupboard or closet in or near the kitchen. Make it next to where the trash can is located, so that it's not more convenient just to throw something away than to recycle it. And label the bins so that everyone in the family knows where to chuck everything. 

Choose the best bins for you - open bins or closed lids (which I prefer to deter odours and mice). If you're tight for space, over the door bins can come in handy. There are some stylish compost bin options out there as well.

Do the same for the bathrooms. I know - it really shouldn't be a big problem to walk the empty toilet paper roll to the recycle bin in the kitchen, but it's an obstacle. So have both a garbage can and a recycling bin in the bathroom. Choose (or make) something pretty with a cover on it to keep pets and kids out. Set up the same system in the bedrooms if needed.

Finally, create a routine for consistently collecting the garbage and recyclables from all of these satellite areas and taking it to the main site you set up at the beginning. Whether it's once a week or every day, make it at at the same time and assign the chore to someone in the family - even it's yourself! That way it just becomes a routine thing and it doesn't pile up and make a mess to clean later because you've left it too long.

Bonus: if you're really energetic, also carve out a dedicated spot to store recyclable things that you will reuse and repurpose yourself. It could be scraps of material, cardboard, or glass containers that you'll use for a DIY project someday, or boxes that you can use for mailing presents. Find a closet or trunk or bin to put them all together so you'll have them when you need them. I keep any fabric scraps together in a vintage crate out on display - it's organized and pretty! 

organizing recyclables at home

Hopefully this little bit of organizing will make the weekly trash and recycling task simpler and easier to accomplish. Which feels good and lends to a calmer you! Have a simple week my friends.

Kelly Anderson

Refreshed Designs

A re-designer focused on natural, sustainable and holistic design.