When it comes to recycling, we've found you need one thing: intention. We had to get creative with a recycling station; with limited space (and a limited recycling program at our apartment complex), we managed to organize a system to keep it simple, clean, and make sure it goes out on time. Here's how.
What You Need
Assigned space for recycling
Containers of your choice
1. Decide on a place for your recycling station. Do you want it hidden away, or easily accessible? The kitchen tends to make the most sense for a recycling station, as many of the things you'll be tossing in (cans, food packaging, and glass bottles) will originate there. If you have a kitchen pantry, try reorganizing so that you can fit bins on the floor. Or, if you have the space, you can keep your recycling station out in the the open. Is single-stream available in your area? Then consider setting up two receptacles: a small one for trash and a larger one for recycling (making the trash can smaller will encourage you to recycle more).
2. Measure your space before choosing a recycling bin option. Sound like a no-brainer? We failed to do this, being sure we could "eye it," and wound up with three bins that did not fit! So take a cue from our mistake.
3. Now comes the fun part. Browse through some of our favorite recycling bins here, here, and here. Pick something that will fit your style and also make sense to the way you do things. If you're a fan of keeping things tucked away, make sure the bins will fit in the pantry or under the sink, but they don't have to look too swanky. If you're more likely to use something if you can see it, go for something that fits your aesthetic.
4. Finally, set a schedule for this chore. If you take out your recycling every week, it won't get too full or cumbersome (paper can get heavy!). If not everything is accepted where you live, set another schedule for taking the other recyclables to a city-run recycling center. For instance, glass is not accepted at our apartment, but we can drop it off at a central location for the city to recycle.
(Images: multiple bins: Simple Human products; recycling frame: Matteriashop; pegboards: Martha Stewart and Crown Paint; bags: Gaiam; multi-bin: Ikea)
Originally published 2010-02-09