How do you store your recycling?

Filed in Blog by on April 11, 2011 19 Comments
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The Green's Recycling centre

The Green's Recycling centre

Today I’m asking ‘How do you store your recycling?’

When we first started our zero waste lifestyle I forgot to put one of the most important things in place: a useful and easy-to-manage place to store our recycling.

After a few weeks of our kitchen annexe looking like a teenager’s bedroom I’d all but given up.

My Aha! moment was when I realised I needed to create a proper storage space that worked for us. We are very fortunate in that we have a lot of space, but I know plenty of people who are just as dedicated as we are with minimal room for storage.

Every time a journalist calls around they stand, mouth open, in our ‘recycling centre’. Almost all say ‘But it’s so neat and tidy and it really doesn’t take up that much room’ before going on to describe their own set up and assessing where they could create a small recycling area of their own.

One journalist decided he could put a few boxes in his porch. Another went away with the idea of converting the outside of their front door. But with nearly every article written about us the excuses still come pouring in about how people have no room to store their recycling.

Mrs A has a few carrier bags hanging off utensil racks in the kitchen.

Another friend has a couple of boxes in the porch nestled between coats and shoes.

One reader of the site has a couple of carrier bags hanging up behind her ironing board.

Sian, who worked with us and her family to reduce their waste had a set of stacking boxes outside their front door

Maisie has converted her shed into a recycling centre.

Other people prefer to dot their recycling bins around the house – the paper recycling next to the computer desk, for example.

When we were on holiday in a mobile home, we used just one shelf in the kitchen to store a couple of boxes of recyclable materials.

If you haven’t got yours sorted already, find out how to set up a recycling centre at home.

So tell me about the system you have at home? How much space do you have and how much space do you need? It could be you that inspires someone else to have a go!

About the Author ()

I am a long time supporter of the Green and Sustainable lifestyle. After being caught in the Boscastle floods in 2004, our family begun a journey to respect and promote the importance of Earth's fragile ecosystem, that focussed on reducing waste. Inspired by the beauty and resourcefulness of this wonderful planet, I have published numerous magazine articles on green issues and the author of four books.

Comments (19)

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  1. Julie Day says:

    The small bits of recycling eg tins, are put on the top of a kitchen cupboard during the day and when there’s lots we put them away in a bag in our landing cupboard. Papers get put on the floor by the end of the day and then put in a jute basket in the same landing cupboard (I won the basket from ecohomeand garden ezine). We have bags in the landing cupboard for the different recycling 1 for tins etc, 1 for tetrapaks, 1 for shredding and

  2. Julie Day says:

    sorry clicked something and it was incomplete. And 1 bag for plastic wrappers to take to Sainsbury’s. Batteries and plastic bags that can be recycled at Sainsbury’s we put in one of our shopping bags.

  3. Sandy says:

    we have two large metal dustbins outside and round the back, one for tins, carrier bagsand batteries. the other for paper and tatty cloths, these get collected once a week, along with the bottles (one bin for tetra packs which we take to the recycling yard). A basket in the porch for bottles, one cardboard box for foil, one for polythene. The poythene will now go to tesco’s when we go for recycling along with the wrappers from Ecover dishtablets. (by the way these last longer because we break them in half, and they still do a good job.)

  4. Sooz says:

    I love your recycling centre! It’s so tidy!
    We have a small grey bin in the kitchen next to the main bin, we put landfill stuff in the main bin and recyclables into the grey one, once the gray one is full we (I say we but my mum said the other day ‘to say you’re the eco warrior, I seem to be the only one taking this recycling out!’ – ooops!) take it to the greenhouse, where the council collection boxes and bags live and it gets filed away in there.

  5. Attila says:

    Everything that goes in the green wheeliebin will go temporarily in a (plastic bag cut into strips and crocheted) bag hanging near the back door. Bottles, jars and tetrapacks sit beside the sink and go to the supermarket recycling every couple of weeks. Foil goes in a carrier bag that hangs with the carrier bag store, teatowels etc in the kitchen. Sheets of paper or part sheets go in a dresser drawer to be made into noteblocks (clamp some sheets together with bulldog clips or rubber bands and paint PVA glue down one edge).

  6. Jen says:

    We’ve got tidy under the counter bins for bits of plastic and metal as well as curbside recycling (tins and such) as well as a small landfill bin. We keep papers in a basket and compost in a stainless steel container on the counter for easy access. That’s where it falls apart. We have way to many refundable behind the kitchen door until we can hardly open it. May we just drink too much beer. . .

  7. Jen says:

    @Jen: Darn it – I meant to write “we have way too many”. Not “to”.

  8. Tom Mallard says:

    Having saved all my trash for a year recently, about 90% was food packaging, many of those stack, box ends are opened to flatten them, foils are rolled onto a tube, many stores do take their plastic bags now for when I spaced bringing cloth ones, cans I opened both ends and flattened, juice & milk bottles I stomp to as flat as they get.

    Batteries usually are hard to connect to where hazadous materials are collected and to me that kind of thing is the hardest to deal with, we need to have them pick up hazadous waste with the trash in it’s own bin, otherwise too many people end up tossing it into the regular trash so what’s the economy of that, it pollutes the landfill where this ends up … just sayin’ …

  9. Katharine says:

    We have 2 recycle boxes provided by the council and they sit one on top on the other in the under the stairs open space. When one is full I swap them over. We don’t have to separate cardboard/paper/tins/plastic bottles as the council have a machine that does all that. We do flatten plastic bottle and cans.
    We do have to put batteries in a see through plastic bag in these boxes and glass bottles in a separate bag to sit on top of the lid, so we store the bottles in a small plastic box on top of the freezer .

    Foil we put in a sturdy shopping bag that sitsin the laundry basket, also under the stairs. When we have a small bag full, it goes in the shed til we do a dump/recycle centre run.

    Thanks to this post, I checked our councils website, only to discover that 6 months ago they put recycle bins around the town that now accept tetra packs. Didn’t know that, so that’s great. So we’ll have to make an extra space for that somewhere. I think I’ll put them in the (bag in the) laundry basket and the foil on top of the fridge.

    We’ve never collected plastic wrappers or polythene: any tips on what places we can recyce these in? Our lodger has ready meals quite a lot: can the platic trays they come in be recycled?
    Thanks

  10. Mrs Green says:

    @Julie Day: Sounds like a great system Julie – and congrats on winning that basket’; sounds perfect for your recycling!
    @Sandy: I didn’t know you could recycle the dishwasher tablets wrapping; good to know, thanks!
    @Sooz: Another great system Sooz; thanks for sharing. Love your Mum’s comment!
    @Attila: loving your crocheted bag and your home made notebooks; great ideas!
    @Jen: I think I would like the problem of too many refundables; they’ve stopped all the take-back schemes over here.
    @Tom Mallard: I agree Tom, flattening and squashing recyclable materials makes a LOT of difference. I worry about batteries and CFL bulbs ending up in the landfill too – we have separate areas at our recycling centres, but not everyone visits them…

  11. Mrs Green says:

    @Katharine: Hi Katharine; thanks for leaving your comment – I just found it in the admin section! I love the idea of using the dead space under the stairs for recycling; that’s great!

    For polythene, some large supermarkets will collect it along with carrier bags, so things like kitchen roll wrapping, magazine wrapping and some fruit and veg bags can go in there. So pleased you found a tetra pak recycling bank!

    The plastic trays that ready meals come in are harder to recycle; we’ve not yet found an answer… (you;ll have to teach them to cook and show them how much money they can save πŸ˜‰ )

  12. Penny says:

    I store all my recycling in carrier bags in the hall then when full i take them out to the shed and empty them into the right bags or boxes.

  13. Teresa says:

    I have a large waste bin in my kitchen which I bought originally for black bin waste but it’s too big for my use so line it with a green bag liner for recycling. Torn plastic bags and used Brittas cartridges are kept in one of my cycle panniers and anything I want to pass on is kept in a cardboard box in the hallway.

  14. Poppy says:

    We’ve had a couple of changes recently. Cans and jars now go into the shed to be collected by the Veg Box people who have a couple of special needs students working with them. Jars are passed to a lady who makes jams etc, and cans are sold on as scrap. Plastic bottles and any other cans (aerosols (sorry – dirty word, but DH won’t let go!)), go in box 1 outside the back door. Paper and cardboard have a temporary home in Sainsbury’s boxes, in the old larder and are transfered outside to box 2 on collection day. Glass bottles also go with them.

    Any foil is in a foil dish by the sink. This also gets scrunched up and moved to box 1 for collection day. There is also a box here for batteries and ink cartridges that get moved on when I’ve had enough of them!

    Back in the larder, there is a carrier bag to collect stretchy plastics that then get squashed up into a tight ball and taken to one of the supermarkets, and another bag that has tetrapacks and any other scraps of metal or other small items that can be recycled at the council yard.

    Also a bag that takes any reusable items that I’m hoping to take to the local resource centre or charity shop.

    Upstairs there’s one of those bags that regularly get put through the door and are rarely collected. This is supposed to have clothing items when DS loses interest or decides they’re too small.. In truth, it only happens when I sort his clothes out as he seems to think that shoving them back in the drawer or in the wash, will make them grow!!

    I think that’s it πŸ˜€ πŸ˜€ (Unless you include the edible scraps for the birds and non edible fort the compost bin!! πŸ˜‰ )

    Ooops! Should say, I’m also cheating a bit atm, as mum lives in an area covered by a different local authority and they take the yoghurt pot type plastics, so an old dog food bag is home to those.

  15. LJayne says:

    Ours is OK but I wonder about putting it altogether like you do mrs G, it’s a bit spread out.

    Mainly we have our blue wheelie bin for all the recycling waste. Used to have separate box for paper but now it can all go intogether πŸ™‚ The old box we now use for keeping our flattened tetrapaks as they have to be taken to the civic amenity site. As does our foil so a 2nd old box contains that. I have a small container in the kitchen for foil as well, which gets emptied out into the bigger one, because we have our milk from the milkman and it is too much of a faff to go outside every time I finish a bottle and have the foil top to get rid of! These are all outside and during the day we collect stuff for them in one small area of the kitchen where all the non-dishwasher washing up goes. I have 2 small bins/boxes around the house where recycling can also get collected – for ease and to encourage the children. One in the living room by the computer as that’s where all the paperwork gets dealt with and one upstairs in the main bathroom.

    I also have a pot for non-rechargeable batteries when they give up the ghost. This lives next to our pot of rechargeables & the charger as we are trying to use these more and more. Makes sense to have them together?

    On the kitchen door I have a carrier bag for all plastic 4 as I can take this to our large sainsburys. We found that using a bigger container in the shed just encouraged us to leave it there whereas on the kitchen door is more noticeable and more likely to be grabbed on the way out. Similarly I also have a bag for all the stuff I’m *supposed* to be returning to manufacturers….

    Finally we have our big cardboard box for the charity shop. Sadly I seem to be able to stop seeing this the longer it sits there. It doesn’t help that our town is not well set up for parking in terms of then carrying a box to the charity shop, especially when juggling children as well. Really needs a time when both my DH and I can go together so I can drop him off with the box and then go and park properly. He’s having the last week of the Easter hols off work so I’m planning to tackle that very soon and have brought down some boxes from the loft to sort through as well in anticipation of that. I can live with the pile getting temporarily bigger if it is ALL going to go at the end.

    I also have a box of stuff that I save for when the British Heart Foundation put their bag through the door. They are one of the few charities I support in this way because most get collected 3rd party and the charity just paid a sum per tonne of weight. BHF self-collect and deal with all the stuff themselves and therefore keep 100% of the profit. But they only bag 3-4 times a year. Must find a better place to put this box.

  16. Jo says:

    We have bi-weekly collection for plastic, paper, and compost (along with garbage). We are lucky to have an attached garage and that’s where we keep our recycling and garbage bags as we fill them up. We also keep a container for batteries, which have to be taken to the hazardous waste centre, and for “refundable recyclables” – the bottles we pay a deposit on at the store and then turn in for a refund of half the deposit. Are you starting to wonder where we keep our vehicles? Yes, that’s right, they sit outside on the driveway πŸ™‚

    I really don’t know how people without a garage or a basement manage because there can be quite an accumulation in the two weeks between pickups.

    My biggest challenge is to keep the kitchen counter from looking too frightful with all the cans and bottles drying out, and the compost sitting there. I settled on using a small white plastic basket sitting on a white plastic tray. If I only have a few things, they go in the basket to dry. If there are more, I put some on the tray underneath and balance the basket on top, so it takes less counter space. And partly I’ve just resigned myself to having a bit of clutter there since I believe it’s more important to compost and recycle than to have a bare clean counter πŸ™‚ The key thing is to empty it all once a day so it doesn’t grow into a huge eyesore.

    You really have a great system set up for everything, Mrs Green. Britain apparently accepts a lot more things than here in our province in Canada (although I gather from your posts that it’s different in different places within Britain?). I especially wish we had someplace for our textiles. We wear our clothing a long time, or give away what is still good if it no longer fits. We keep old washcloths and dishcloths and T-shirts for rags (and I’m learning to crochet T-shirt strips into mats!). But things have to go to the landfill eventually, and it seems like such a waste when the methods exist to process and use them.

  17. Alyson says:

    I have a cardboard box sitting on the dining area window sill that holds glass bottles and jars and waits until it’s overflowing before I decide to take them to the bottle banks. A carrier bag bag from another window slowly filling up with foil. I have another toilet roll bag hanging from my ironing board that’s for plastics bags for sainsbury, whenever I remember to take it with me. In front of that, between the freezer and the kitchen table is the recycling box for paper and card and I have another one upstairs on the landing.The box for cans and plastic carton sits outside my front door. On a workbench, I have an empty cocoa tub which I use for batteries. The filters for my water jug just sits in front of my compost tub because I keep forgetting to take them to Argos. If my water didn’t taste funny I wouldn’t need to use a filter jug. I have a shopping trolley that’s got small weee items in. I’ll have to wait for some kind person whose going to the tip to take the stuuf for me, because I’m not allowed to walk in and I don’t have a car. My husband’s landrover cannot go under the barrier and is not allowed to stop at the bottom and we walk up.So, I’m afraid home recycling centre is an organized mess in the kitchen, mostly.I look forward to the day when my tumble dryer breaks down and the space might be used to store recyclable stuff .

  18. Mrs Green says:

    @Penny: Sounds like a nice, straight forward solution.
    @Teresa: Love the fact your landfill bin is now too big for your needs, Teresa!
    @Poppy: What a great service from your veg box company, Poppy – I love hearing about schemes like this. And I think it’s great that you take advantage of different recycling facilities when you visit relatives; we do that with a friend on our annual holiday to Devon.
    @LJayne: Good to know about the BHF; I never knew that. I find for us, having everything together helps, but I know many others prefer things dotted around the place; the important thing is that whatever system you have, it works for YOU. Hope you manage to get to the charity shop; it’s always a relief when the boxes finally end up there!
    @Jo: I think using an attached garage for this is perfect! Like you, I get an accumulation of recyclates on the side of the kitchen counter. It drives me crazy, but I agree with your feeling that it’s more important to compost and recycle than have a bare counter. Yes, you’re right, different areas of the UK have different recycling facilities; which makes my job of sharing advice with people really tough! Not having textile recycling seems SUCH a shame πŸ™ In the UK, 1 million tonnes of textiles still end up in landfill despite recycling – that makes me very sad.
    @Alyson: It sounds like you are determined, despite finding yourself in difficult circumstances, Alyson – I admire that πŸ™‚

  19. Teresa says:

    @Mrs Green: My kitchen waste bin was always too big for my needs other than for recycling as I live alone so used a food waste bin. I threw that out recently as it was quite old with chipped plastic where dirt could hide and I have another one I use which is lined and sits on top of the green waste bin. At first after I got rid of it I was throwing out a lot of stuff but not so much now so I hang plastic carrier bag on a door handle.

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