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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.

  • Susan C. 17 days ago
    I keep a bag hanging on the banister basement steps. I put all my plastic bags in there. When it gets fuul, I empty the bag and it goes into the car with the reusable bags for shopping. That way I recycle the bags. Easy way to get it done.
  • Lolly D. 17 days ago
    I started keeping a brown paper bag (I always get paper when possible when I don't have a reusable bag with me!) by my front door to drop junk mail in. When it gets full, I can just take the whole thing out to the bin!
  • vernyce d. 18 days ago
    i tell my neighbors who don't or won't recycle to leave their grocery bags (paper OR plastic) w/me, then i take them to the thrift store i frequent & they're at least on the reuse journey. Then, we keep the see-through plastic containers peanut butter, etc. come in, use them to give candy gifts or sort things in the garage. sometimes i'm able to find candy wrappers that are COMPOSTABLE. these are the fancies i favor!
  • Sue C. 22 days ago
    Many great ideas in this post. Thank you. I have a plastic container in the kitchen for food scraps which gets emptied regularly for composting. At the moment I have clear recycling bags downstairs which have the recyclables sectored accordingly. For example paper, cardboard, magazines, newspapers, loose papers, etc. all go into the one bag. And aluminum foil, plastic containers, etc. in the other. And any other recyclables like heavy duty cardboard get tied up together and put downstairs so that everything is together for curbside pickup.
  • Sara T. 24 days ago
    I turned a free credenza I got online into a recycling center. I refurbished it to have 3 tip out doors to easily open and toss the recyclables into bins inside. When full, take out the bins and bring to recycling center. This is one centralized place for recycling as having multiple places in the house has caused confusion. Kitchen scraps are recycled separately with a bucket next to the sink. I am the one who deals with the trash anyway so if someone tosses a recyclable item I pick it out. We have so little trash it gets picked up once every 5 weeks.
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