Trash it! Recycling strategies for your home
Julie Garton-Good, GRI, DREI

If your household is like most, recycling makes sense not only for the environment but for adequately controlling the mountain of debris a family accumulates. Here are some common-sense ideas to help you design a recycling game plan in just a few easy steps.

It's usually the kitchen that produces the most solid waste, so provide for storage of recyclable materials in or near your kitchen. For example, under your kitchen sink you could build bins for aluminum cans, glass and general refuse. If you don't want built-in compartments, consider using plastic stack bins or storage carts on wheels. You can find these items at most hardware or general merchandise discount stores. It's a good idea to install a wall-mounted can crusher near the bins to reduce the amount of space they require.

Many households design a longer-term storage area for glass and plastic in their garage. This could also include space for newspapers, glossy magazines and recyclable high-grade paper. Remember to structure these storage areas so it's not a tedious process to take them to the next location---either to curbside pick-up or your local recycling center.

You'll need to check with your local recycling coordinator to find out what products can be recycled and what the requirements are. Here are some questions you might want to ask at the outset: Do labels have to be removed? How about caps? How should newspapers be bundled?

Composting organic waste is another excellent form of in-house recycling. A small container with a cover located near the sink is ideal for collecting organic matter. It should be emptied daily into a composting bin where decomposition can occur.

Although systems you set in place now are likely to change somewhat as recycling programs mature, later adaptations should prove comparatively simple. If you get involved now, you'll be well on your way to controlling household waste and helping the environment in which we live.