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The List: 5 Places Organization Experts Would Want You To Put Extra Recycling Containers

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A few well-placed containers, such as baskets or bags, will make recycling easier and will keep it top of mind. 

Any organizing or decorating expert will likely agree: Well-placed containers throughout the house, whether they’re boxes, crates, or baskets, will go a long way in helping your home stay uncluttered.

For the environmentally conscious among us, these types of containers can serve another purpose. Bags, tubs, baskets, and other vessels throughout the house and beyond can make recycling (and upcycling) much more convenient.

Below are five places I’ve found that an additional container has helped me collect things that I would otherwise toss in the trash. In some cases, I’ve repurposed a container that I already had on hand; in other cases, I bought something cute that matched my décor — after all, who says that being eco-friendly means that you need to compromise on aesthetics?

1. In the Car: Because I park in the alley behind my house, I’m not always good about bringing car-trash inside. This means I’m often emptying waste from my car when I pull into gas stations, which often woefully lack recycling bins. Rather than throw these recyclables in the gas station trash, I keep one of my old reusable shopping bags in the trunk of the car. As I’m cleaning up, I’ll toss all the recyclables in the bag, which makes it easier for me to bring them inside and place in my curbside recycling bin.

2. In the Closets: I found some soft-sided hampers at a yard sale and keep them stashed inside the closets in my house. When I come across clothing that I no longer want (or that no longer fits my continuously growing kids), it goes in the hampers. Every few months I’ll take the clothing I’ve collected and donate to a local charity thrift store, or in the case of my kids’ clothes, pass them onto a younger friend or neighbor.

3. In the Kitchen: Celebrity chef Rachael Ray popularized the concept of a garbage bowl, but it’s something that I first learned about in culinary school. A large bowl, kept near your kitchen workspace, can collect vegetable peelings and other scraps so you’re not making multiple trips to the trash. These days, I use a garbage bowl to collect fruit and vegetable waste like peels, stems, and seeds. They get transferred to my countertop compost pail or taken straight out to my compost bucket outside. You don’t have to buy one of Rachel’s bowls to get started, just use a spare mixing bowl. Or, save plain paper bags and cuff the tops so they stay open on the counter — you can throw the whole thing, bag and all, into your compost after you enjoy your meal.

4. By the Front Door: We used to have a formidable stack of mail on our dining room table that would often be on the verge of toppling over. Then I bought a cute fabric basket to keep right by the front door to stick my mail in. I use it to collect magazines I’ve read, catalogs, postcard mailers, etc. While I used to collect sensitive mail trash, such as credit card offers or bills, and shred them, I now know that shredding greatly reduces the ability to recycle paper. Instead, I keep a black marker hanging on the side of the basket, to mark out sensitive information before throwing the paper in. On recycling day, it’s easy to carry the whole basket down to the curb and dump it into my recycling bin.

5. On the Coat Rack: Ever since I’ve started taking plastic film to a recycling collection point, I’ve struggled with how to collect it separately from what goes down to my curbside bin. My latest solution is to hang one of my more attractive reusable shopping bags on my coatrack just inside the back door. I fill the bag with all the random plastic packaging, grocery bags (when I’ve forgotten my reusable bags!), food wrappers, and other film that can be dropped off at the collection bin. When I’m heading to the supermarket, I’ll grab the bag as I get my coat. Once there, I can empty the plastic film into the bin, and then head inside with my now-empty shopping bag ready to use at the checkout.

What tricks do you have around your house to corral recyclables? Share your ideas in the comments below. 
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About the Author
Jessica Harlan
Jessica Harlan

I love finding new ways to green my family's life as painlessly as possible, and sharing those ideas with folks who want to do the same.

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  • Meg P. 1 day ago
    There are lots of days I don't toss anything except unwanted mail. I have called plenty of sources, but the junk mail seems to multiply anyway. Nice idea - a day when nothing is tossed or recycled.
  • TheConnoisseurOfClean-com C. 1 day ago
    Since I am an independent cleaner, I am always on the go, so I eat a lot of fast food. It's just the reality I have to live with. For this reason, I carry a two buckets and one bin in my SUV. One bucket is for trash, one bucket is for recycling (I keep this in the front floorboard), and a larger bin is for recyclable litter I pick up daily. Having these buckets handy really helps out in the long run.

    As for mail and catalogs, etc., someone I read once said that she recommends they "touch it once rule," meaning that you should take care of things the first time you pick them up. Look through the catalog and see if there is anything you want, if not put it in the bin right away. Most of my bills are on auto pay and are paperless, but the stuff I get in the mail I always open it up immediately, put the envelope in the recycling bin, and then pay it right then and there if I have time. If I don't it goes on my desk for later.

    One of my clients keeps a wicker basket under her coffee table for newspapers and mail that's ready for the recycling bin. This keeps it all in one place and makes it easy to dump them later on.
  • Donna C. 1 day ago
    I don't allow eating, drinking, or smoking in my car. My children managed to get to the store and back without having food in the car. They're grown now but we laugh about how kids these days seem to need snacks everywhere they go.
  • tommy b. 1 day ago
    Today
  • Rene L. 5 days ago
    i keep bags by where I sort my mail
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