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This is the first post in a series about pursuing a zero waste lifestyle. Visit again soon for more ideas and tips on going zero waste.
My husband and I are growing increasingly zealous about trying to lead a zero waste lifestyle. I scoped out stainless steel straws on Amazon long before the Starbucks announcement, y’all. We’ve used cloth napkins and bar mops rather than paper towels for most of our married life. And while we’ve long been on the reusable shopping bag bandwagon, we also use reusable produce bags instead of those you pull off the roll at the store. So of course we recycle religiously. In fact, we drove our recyclables to the recycling station in the past when recycling wasn’t available at our apartment.
But for quite a while, I’ve had our smaller recycling basket in the garage, partially because I didn’t have room for it in our open floor plan living room/kitchen/dining room, partially because the container I use for gathering our recycling inside doesn’t really “go” with my decor. Sadly, because the recycling basket was in the garage, my husband tended to be less vigilant about recycling some smaller things because he had to disarm the security system and walk the toilet tissue tube or other item into the garage. Additionally, I hated the way all members of our household–myself included–would pile recyclables on the counter in the kitchen beside the garbage can so that they could be taken outside all at once. (Again, we were typically trying to avoid disarming and arming the security system.) Finally, I hated that the recycling can would often overflow before being emptied into the large recycling can outside because it was basically out of sight, out of mind. How ugly is this, even if it is in the garage?
No more. The light bulb came on during a quiet Saturday morning while my husband was at work: By moving our Food Saver into our canning cabinet, I could fit the old mesh Rubbermaid wastebasket we use for recycling underneath our kitchen sink. Then we could toss our recyclables in it at any time–and we would be more likely to empty it consistently if it were in the relatively small area under the sink. And then I wouldn’t have to worry about its interference with my floor plan or decor. Problem solved!
I do still have to take my plastic bags to Lowe’s to be recycled–I’ll never understand why Lidl removed its bag recycling station from our local store!–and I definitely take our old batteries and light bulbs to be recycled as well. But moving our recycling can into our kitchen has made recycling significantly easier.
I would highly recommend putting your recycling bin or can in your kitchen alongside your garbage can to encourage your family to recycle as much as possible. If putting your recycling bin under your sink is impossible, consider some of the cute options I’ve included on my Recycling Solutions Pinterest board. (While you’re there, I’d love it if you’d follow me on Pinterest!)
One final note: My husband and I have always lived in a single-stream recycling community, meaning we can mix paper and cans and plastic into a single container. If you don’t have single-stream recycling, there are options included on my Recycling Solutions Pinterest board for you as well. 🙂
Easy Peasy Solutions from Amazon
If you’re looking for something easy, Amazon has a few recycling bins. Simple inexpensive ones even.
Amazon also has stackable recycling bins for those of you who have to separate your paper from your plastic.
If you’re willing to make an investment, you an also find the simplehuman dual garbage can/recycling bin at Amazon.
Or if you like the idea but aren’t willing to spend nearly $200, you can find a cheaper and (perhaps?) slightly inferior alternative.
Or if you’re cheap like me, you can just go with a mesh wastebasket that could be used for some other purpose later.
Just remember to measure your area before you buy any of these! And as always, read the reviews on any item you purchase and shop around for the best price.
And again, the links above may be affiliate links, meaning that I may receive a small commission if you click through them and make a purchase. See my full disclosure for more details.
I’m offering a Silhouette Cameo cut file for those of you who have to separate your recyclables. The cut file contains labels for your plastic, glass, and paper recycling containers.