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A recycling center that works for the whole family

Dscn0009 About a year ago I started realizing that a lot of plastics can be recycled - more than what you put out curbside or can take to the local market. So I became a little obsessed with keeping them out of the landfill. Recycling plastics is probably the only green thing I manage to do consistently (I'm still working on composting and about 107 other things). So after the giant pile of miscellaneous plastics finally threatened to take over our one-car garage, I decided to put my hours of watching HGTV home organization shows to work. I created a recycling center. Since I park my car in the garage and we store four bikes, two trikes and two ladders I was basically resigned to a small section of wall space. But because our garage leads right into our kitchen, it was the perfect spot.

I had about three feet of horizontal wall space to use, so I ordered a shelving system from Storables, cut to my exact dimensions. It was super-easy to install (I did it in about 10 minutes) and cost about $65. Plus I have the flexibility of adding more shelves. I've got bins on the shelves for rigid plastics, compact fluorescent lightbulbs (which contain mercury and should not be thrown in the trash), alkaline batteries and styrofoam. The long, white mesh bag (also bought at Storables for $10) on the right side has 5 compartments where we store plastic bags, sorted by number (two newspapers delivered in the morning, both double-bagged = a heck of a lot of plastic bags). I actually started running out of space, so in a plastic bag on the other side I store cereal box inserts. Perhaps if I actually took the stuff to the recycling center more than three times a year I might have a little more room.

Underneath, I built a stand for the curbside bins from scrap lumber so that I could store muddy shoes and a bin for more plastics. Our bucket for glass is on the floor next to the yellow bins. I recently started letting my kids help with some of the recycling, so I made labels using images of familiar food products that I pulled off of New Seasons online shopping site. Now they know where to put the flattened box of Annie's Mac & Cheese and the plastic milk cartons. My 5-year old is at the ripe old age where she is THRILLED to have big-girl responsibilities. I recently got a video from the library called Adventures with Wink & Blink: A Day in the Life of a Garbage Truck. It was painfully cheesy, which is why the kids loved it, but it also gave a nice overview of the garbage process all the way to the stinky landfill. So now my daughter is making the connection between garbage/recycling/landfill/litter/pollution. My Master Recyler class starts tonight, and I'm looking forward to learning more about recycling and sharing with all of you!

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