Recycling Made Easy: Organize Your Recyclables, Save Money and Have Some Fun

Recycling is a great way to help the planet, save money and have fun, all at the same time. If you do a little advance planning, it isn’t difficult at all.

It doesn’t matter what kind of container you use to organize your recyclables. I use paper sacks, which I place under the sink in my kitchen and in the laundry room. I have one container for plastic and metal, and another for paper and cardboard. My sanitation service will pick up the former, and not the latter, so it’s important to keep them separate. Then I have another area for newspaper.

The recycling bins provided by my city are in the garage, since they’re too big for inside the house. When the sacks of plastic and metal inside the house become too full, they go out into these bins. Periodically we also place old newspapers in a separate bin, per our city’s instructions.

Since we only get pickup once every other week, it’s important to keep up with this process, and make sure that the recyclables find their way to the curb on the right day.

We must take junk mail and cardboard to the recycling center ourselves. They are stacked, in paper sacks, on the side of the garage, and when there is enough to warrant a trip, my husband takes the kids and they do a recycling run on a Saturday.

So make sure you have a separate area for your different kinds of recyclables; and make sure they are deposited in the right container in the first place. This will save you a lot of sorting later. Also, make sure you don’t try to recycle anything that your recycling center won’t accept. Putting out recyclables to the curb which your sanitation department has instructed you not to put there, will only result in the sanitation workers dumping the non-collectible items on the ground, creating a huge mess and extra work for you. Also be careful not attempt to recycle batteries, toxic chemicals, light bulbs, broken glass and other dangerous materials that generally aren’t recyclable. Generally, these will have to go to a hazardous waste collection center. Contact your city to see where their center is located. Create a collection center in your home for hazardous wastes, out of the reach of children, so you won’t have to make as many trips.

There are many products available which can help you organize your recyclables. Gaiam.com offers inexpensive folding recyclable bags, or if you don’t have much space, you can get the Ecopod, which will crush your cans and plastic bottles for you. They also offer a recycling bin cart which permits you to stack and roll your recycling bins, saving space and making your life a lot easier. Most local city recycling bins will fit in the cart, or you can purchase them from Gaiam.com.

Recyclables make great free materials for craft projects. Get your kids involved in making puppets from old paper bags, or make artistic Halloween buckets out of coffee cans, or make a bird feeder out of plastic soda bottles. Ideas are endless, and a simple search on Google on the search term “recyclables craft projects” will turn up thousands of fun and interesting free recyclable craft projects.

Whether you’re looking to help the planet, to save money or just have fun, recycling is definitely a fantastic way to do it.

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