At-home recycling: A system to streamline eco-friendly efforts

Allecia Vermillion

Recycling bottles, cans and newspapers is an easy way to do your part for the environment, but making space for these bins in the kitchen can be difficult. Plus, a stack of industrial plastic bins filled with empty salad dressing bottles and bits of old food isn’t very appetizing.

Tennessee-based professional organizer Paige McClain Ramsey has set up a simple system in her kitchen to encourage recycling and keep the room clutter-free. It’s tempting to set up your recycling operations somewhere out of sight, like the garage, she says, “but every time you’re going to throw away a can or plastic bottle, you’re not going to walk all the way into the garage.”

Here is a simple, inexpensive way to keep your recycling in hand and your kitchen looking clean and uncluttered.

1. Find a small to medium-sized receptacle that works well in your kitchen or pantry. Ramsey uses an “inexpensive and multipurpose” black plastic trashcan in a 14- to 15-gallon size, the kind widely available at hardware and home stores. Look for the kind with a swinging top, says Ramsey. “It looks nicer and it’s more sanitary.” This sort of lid can also help deflect dogs or curious toddlers.

2. Set up a full-fledged recycling station in your garage or other out-of-the-way spot. Check out your municipality’s requirements for sorting recyclables and organize your bins accordingly. Ramsey suggests labeling each bin clearly so family members won’t toss soda cans in the paper bin. While clear bins may look nicer sitting on the store shelf, Ramsey notes that their contents will likely be visually unappealing. She prefers solid plastic bins, unless you like looking at a jumble of empty soup cans.

3. Bring your kitchen bin out to the garage when it gets full. Every four or five days, walk your little kitchen recycling bin out to the garage or wherever your full recycling station is located. Take a few minutes to sort items into their proper bins. Spending time tending to your trash may seem tedious, but Ramsey notes it’s much more efficient than walking every jar and bottle out to your garage.

4. Rinse out your kitchen receptacle when things get sticky. Another benefit of a medium-sized plastic trashcan is that it washes clean with just a bit of soap and water. Give yours a quick rinse whenever the inside starts getting a little funky.

GateHouse News Service