Organize Your Recycling

Oct 25, 2012 | Blog, Cleaning Tips, Closets, Kitchen, Organizing Tips

My life with a one month old has been…well, busy to say the least.  My little Milo is very high maintenance so just finding time to sleep and shower is a challenge.  Fortunately, I have another guest post!

Enjoy this post by Justin Greig.  A self-proclaimed “21st century hippie,” Justin studied Journalism at Berkeley and freelances for many environmental publications. He has a special interest in conservation, and he and his wife recently added solar panels to their home.

No one wants to recycle if it means cleaning up trash makes their house a dirty, cluttered mess. Organize your recycling to make the system more efficient and your home a greener, more comfortable and eye-appealing place.

Do Everything In One Place

Clear out a space in the garage, laundry room or utility closet and set up a full-force recycling spot to sort and store items until they can be reused or donated. Mount shelves for holding plastic storage bins or use rolling recycling containers that are accessible to family members of every age. Cover the wall with pegboard and the floor with carpet tiles to make hanging items and cleaning the room a snap.

Use Stackable Plastic Bins

Stackable plastic bins can easily be labeled with stickers or permanent markers and can keep items organized and out of the way. Clear ones can help you track the amount of recyclables you have stored, yet colored ones can blend in with certain color schemes. Make sure to buy a variety of sizes but stick to smaller bins as they will be hard to lift when filled with glass bottles or heavy newspapers.

Handle Hazardous Materials Correctly

Contact your community’s waste management program and find out how to properly dispose of hazardous materials. Recycling and disposal services at offer information about different options for household hazardous, electronic, yard and other universal waste disposal. Batteries, aerosol containers, strong chemicals, electronics, light bulbs and paint can be harmful to the environment and even people if just thrown away. Collect these special items and store them in a plastic container until you can make a special trip to dispose of them.

Stow with Stylish Storage

Instead of having three giant trash bins in your kitchen, use a wicker laundry basket to sort recyclables. Mounted to the side of your counter-top island, a stylish storage vessel is easily accessible so family members will always remember to recycle, yet visitors won’t immediately be thrown off by a bright green eye sore. If it’s large enough, separate the space inside the basket to have a different slot for plastics, glass, paper, etc.

Keep Bags Handy

Brian Kramer from Better Homes and Gardens online suggests using colorful plastic-coated shopping bags with sturdy handles and firm, flat bottoms to store and transport recyclables. Keep these and plastic shopping bags in a memorable, accessible place such as under the kitchen sink or hanging on the wall in the mudroom. Take the reusable or plastic bags with you to the store to avoid accumulating large amounts of plastic bags. Consider keeping a few in your car for times you forget or make an unexpected stop at the grocery store.

Organize Your Calendar

Many communities host a hazardous waste collection day several times a year. Find out when the days are and mark them on your to-do list. In addition, learn which retailers take back which items. According to Kate Kelly in an article on, this will get you started: Office Depot and Staples take back printer cartridges and some office equipment. Home Depot and Ikea collect used CFL bulbs. Call2Recycle will accept rechargeable batteries and cell phones, and runs programs at RadioShack, Home Depot, Lowe’s Staples and Target.