Monthly challenge for July

Filed in Blog by on July 1, 2008 8 Comments
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can crusher
Welcome to our second monthly zero waste challenge! During June, our first monthly challenge, we asked you to simply become aware of the recycling facilities that are available in your area. Having this knowledge is the first step towards reducing your rubbish and the amount of waste you send to landfill each week.

Hopefully you now know what kerbside collections are available and when they are collected, where your nearest civic amenity site is and what you can recycle there, and where some of your local recycling points are.

If you haven’t done this yet, then check out the Recycle Now website to find details of your nearest recycling facilities. For more information on how to use the site and where to find our local information, read our Monthly challenge for June post.

If you’re armed with your local knowledge then you can move onto step two – July’s monthly challenge.

Month two – July’s monthly challenge

This month the challenge is to look at how you can set up a functional and effective recycling system at home.

Until the kerbside collections are taken or you can visit a recycling point, you’ll need somewhere to store all your goodies.

If you have a large home with an assortment of out buildings, then this isn’t a problem. But for most of us humble-home dwellers, storage can be a big issue. It can be the first hurdle that results in failure to recycle if this is not thought out carefully.

No one wants a house of stinking, festering rubbish, so be sure to think carefully about your plans!

Some of the difficulties with storing recycling

You might have pets that need to be kept away from empty cans, or children that need to be kept safe from the sharp edges of tins. You might be limited on space and resources or live with an elderly relative who needs to be supervised around rubbish and recycling.

Recycling Solutions – burgeoning boxes, bags and bins

Once you have discovered what kerbside collections you have, contact your council and ask for any bins and boxes they can provide. Most councils will send you a large plastic box or bins for the various items they collect. Here at Chez green we are given one large green box for paper, cans and glass and one green wheelie bin for garden waste.

Each district council will have different storage facilities for residents, so speak to your local council’s local waste and recycling department and sign up for whatever you are entitled to.

Once you know what types of materials you can recycle in your local area, you’ll need to work out how much storage you’ll need.

Almost Mrs A has a few carrier bags doted around her tiny kitchen. We have a couple of shelves in the kitchen with various boxes on them. Another friend of ours has space outside the back door for plastic boxes where she stores things until she takes them to the recycling centre. One friend uses their porch – alongside coats and shoes, you’ll find various places for storing their recyclables. You can use a balcony, garage, doorstep or shelf – tailor it to your personal circumstances.

You might find it more practical to have a container for paper recycling next to your computer and one for plastic bottles in the dining room. Just design your own recycling system to fit in with your lifestyle.

Space saving solutions for your recycling

Many people worry that their homes will become overrun with wayward items awaiting their fate in the recycling centre. But with a few snappy moves, you can dramatically reduce the amount of storage you need.

Consider a 2 litre plastic water bottle, for example. When you’ve emptied out the water, what are they full of? that’s right – air!

The air inside a bottle can be squashed out (that’s why most large bottles have ridges down the sides; so that you can compress them easily). Take the lid off the bottle, give it a good hard squash and then put the lid back on. This reduces the amount of room you need by about three quarters.

Et voila:
crushed water bottle to save recycling space

Likewise cans. One of the most fun devices is a can crusher – excellent for bored kids and men who like to play Tarzan; just let them loose with a can crusher and your can full of air will be a tenth of its original size.

Tetrapaks are best squeezed sideways. On some designs you need to lift our all of the flaps before doing this. Open the top, squeeze the breath of out them and replace the cap. In true ‘Blue Peter’ fashion; here’s one I prepared earlier. You can store heaps of them sideways to one another once they are flattened:
crushed tetrapak for recycling

Cardboard boxes need to be flattened out or ripped up. Pull up all of the flaps and you’ll be able to easily squash them sideways so that they are completely flat.

Foil can be easily squashed down, paper stores pretty flat and is fuss free anyway, so the only thing you’ll be left with that is potentially large is glass bottles (we do not advocate smashing them up at home – save that fun for the recycling bin).

Smell free storage

To keep smells and germs at bay, make sure you rinse things out well. As soon as you empty the contents of a can; rinse it out there and then. It’s like washing anything else up – leave it to dry and you’ll have to scrub it off. That’s not what you want to do with an open can as you run the risk of cutting your hand. Most things in a can will rinse out easily as long as you tackle that job as soon as the tin is empty.

Plastic bottles such as milk bottle and tetrapaks can just have a quick rinse through because they can be stored with the tops on anyway.

Wine bottles and beer cans are easy to rinse after you have finished them. Just rinse and crush the tins and leave the bottles without a top after rinsing so that they can dry out.

Take care of your recycling boxes in the same way as you take care of your bin. When it is emptied give it a rinse out with a bit of washing up liquid to keep it smelling sweet.

If you have a compost bin or wormery, you’ll need a container on your kitchen work surface that has a lid to keep out fruit flies. Empty a compost bin every day in the summer and every couple of days in the cooler months to keep your kitchen smelling fresh.

What do I do now?

Think about your habits at home – where are you when you need to recycle something? In the kitchen, the bathroom or the office? Put a suitable container in a reachable place within that room for the type of recycling you have.
You might prefer to have everything in one place with an assortment of labelled containers. Do you need to put up a couple of shelves or move some things around in the shed for storage?
Spend this month figuring out an effective and simple system that works for you.

Let us know how you get on. Does your recycling system work for you or does it need some tweaks to help make it more effective?

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 (8)

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  1. Becks says:

    We keep our paper bag in the kitchen behind the ironing board, can, bottle and plastics box out in the garden, cardboard in the corner of the kitchen, tetrapaks in the shed and the general wastebin is right at the furthest point of the garden. I found the best way to encourage the whole family to visit the different locations was to take all wastebins out of the house! If they were going to have to go to the outside bins with their waste then they realised they would have to walk past the various recycling containers on the way so it became quicker for them to recycle than to throw away. You may have guessed I live in a household of lazy teens!!

  2. Mrs Green says:

    Hi Becks,
    It sounds like you have a fantastic system in your home. I LOVE the idea that the bin is furthest away, past all the recycling points; that’s really ingenious.

    We’ve now managed 3 weeks without putting things into our kitchen bin, (we have a plastic box instead with all the other recycling stuff) so I think we’re going to take it out of the kitchen now.

    I’ve found that making the bin a no go area, it’s forced us all to think about the fate of our packaging or ‘waste’ and this is why we’ve been able to be successful. Also, by looking at an open ‘landfill’ box it makes us clean things before we put them in there AND we have to look at the stuff, so our awareness increases.

    Thanks so much for sharing how things work in your home – it’s excellent!

    Mrs G x

  3. Hilde says:

    Here in Germany we have four bins: One for paper/cardbord, one for general waste and one for all plastic packaging, which are all emptied once a month, and one for organic/biodegradable waste, which is emptied twice a month. So all I collect in the house are batteries, cds and corks, which i bring to the recycling center.

  4. Mrs Green says:

    Hi Hilde,

    Great to see you all the way from Germany! I read in an article that we were heading towards monthly collections, such as those in Germany on a news website. Yet comments made below it from readers suggested that it was rubbish and Germany had WEEKLY collections, so it’s great that you are here to give us information from your own experience 🙂

    It sounds like your system is very effective and leaves you with very little to dispose of. Interesting that all your plastics are collected over there; that is the thing that most of us in the UK are concerned about. Do you know what happens to them all?

    Thanks for a great comment!
    Mrs Green x

  5. Jen says:

    We are, somewhat coincidentally, on board! We started a similar challenge for ourselves on July 1st –
    http://cleanbin.wordpress.com/. Excited to be on the same schedule as you, and look forward to tracking your progress. Will be interesting to spot the differences between Canada and the UK. I’m impressed by how organized you guys are!

    For the record, we find it easier to keep all our different recycling bins in the kitchen. That way, we’re more likely to use the correct bin instead of just being lazy, throwing it in the closest one, and hoping we’ll sort it out later.

  6. Mrs Green says:

    Hey Jen from over there in Canada – a huge welcome to you! It’s fab that you are doing your own challenge. I’m adding you to my links list under ‘garbloggers’ and can’t wait to get the opportunity to come along and have a nose at your challenge too 🙂

    I’m hosting Mrs A’s Carnival of Trash during August; it would be awesome to have you taking part in that if you have the time 🙂

    I love how everyone has their own way of figuring out what works for them. We keep ours all in the same place too, but I really love the idea of recycling bins in the house and landfill bin well away from the house 😀

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