Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Recycling experiment

I've got a couple experiments going on right now in our house, one of which you already know about (the great scallion experiment! I'll post more pics soon -- spoiler alert: it's going well). My newest experiment has to do with recycling.

Is my experiment simply participating in recycling? Oh no, no, no. I am an advanced recycler, quite in tune with what my trash pick-up company will and won't accept.

Instead, the truth is that Matt and I are such advanced recyclers, no doubt like yourselves, that we are entering recycling overflow. See, our neighborhood HOA (Home Owners Association, for those of you without one) gives us these giant, heavy-duty trash cans, and these standard-issue, measly recycling bins.

Itty-bitty recycling bin

(Sidenote: Our now-defunct recycling bin houses a box for a case of wine that we take with us when we buy wine in bulk so we don't have to keep using new boxes.)

Probably looks familiar, right?

Our recycling bin would overflow every week, whereas we only needed to put out our trash can about every other week. We remedied this problem by taking an extra recycling bin Matt's parents had (the one pictured above). For a few weeks we were in recycling bliss (sort of). Then we saw a sign in our neighborhood saying someone had a missing recycling bin. We checked ours. Turned out we had accidentally picked up this neighborhood's bin because someone else picked up ours. We returned the inadvertently stolen bin, never to receive our own back in return.

So, back to the drawing board.

Then Matt and I realized: We're wasting lots of plastic bags in our efforts to recycle. See, we had been storing recycling in plastic bags for two reasons:

Lesser reason: It made transporting recycling from the kitchen to the garage a little easier.

Much greater reason: On recycling day our neighborhood gets filled with empty plastic containers and aluminum cans and newspapers. Unless you put your recycling in a plastic bag in these pathetic little recycling bins, you might as well not recycle because that trash just winds up in your neighbor's yard (most likely ours) and never makes it to the recycling plant.

We decided to take matters into our own hands. Yes, we could petition our HOA to get us new bins, but they'd probably charge us more money than we wished to pay, or we could do a tiny DIY on a new bin.

At Home Depot the trash can aisle is truly amazing. I mean, I don't spend much time there, but I am shocked at how much these puppies cost. The big trash cans with the sturdy plastic and flipping lids that could house a small family cost about $70, and our HOA-issued can is sturdier than the one here. We were not ready to pay $70 for this blue recycling trash can.

We settled on the cheapest 45-gallon Rubbermaid trash can with an attached lid, ringing in at $27.99.

I made a recycling sign, and presto!

Here's the new recycling "bin" next to the recycling bin we keep in the kitchen, which is now bag-less.

And here's the new "bin" next to Gigantor trash can.
Now there is no longer a comical difference between the size of the trash can and the size of the recycling receptacle.

But this is still an experiment. Why? Because, we're still debating whether or not our recycling company will accept our recycling in this larger container. My hope is yes, but I really have no idea. If they accept it, then I'll paint the can with a more permanent recycling sign (instead of this taped-on, laminated tag). If they don't accept it....well, I don't know. I'm tired of using plastic bags to keep our recycling from blowing away. I will find out on Thursday when recycling day arrives!

Have you tried something similar with your recycling? Do you have another solution?

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