When it comes to recycling, I can be a bit of a control freak. Like yelling at strangers in public to pick up their recyclables kind of control freak….it is seriously bad. I don’t know, I just can’t just handle the fact that people are too lazy to do one little thing that takes two seconds, when the impacts are so serious. I am however, a little more lenient in my understanding of why people fail to recycle complicated things such as light bulbs and ink cartridges. Now I am by no means saying that recycling those items is not necessary, quite the contrary actually. These items are some of the most important items to recycle as a matter of fact, but they are also some of the trickiest. These items most certainly cannot be placed in the regular old recycling as some of them contain mercury or heavy metals. Buuuuut I totally get that people do not want to trek out to a recycling center for every single battery they need to toss out. That is why I created our own recycling station.
To create my station, I started by…well recycling! A and I are obsessed with this chicory coffee called Cafe Du Monde he heard about from a restaurant in New Orleans. It is really dark and earthy, just the way we like it. I love that it comes with a metal tin instead of a plastic bag, but I still always look for ways to reuse the containers around the house. When I thought up this recycling station idea, this was the perfect use! So here is how to make your own recycling station at home, to save you some serious time on recycling station outings:
What You’ll Need:
- Several containers with lids (matching sizes if possible)
- Recycled paper for labels
- White paint (ours was regular house paint leftover from remodeling)
- Scissors or an exacto blade
Step 1: Clean your containers thoroughly
To prep your containers for painting, you will need to clean them first. Ensure that there are no food scraps or coffee grinds. Once those are out of the picture, you are ready to paint.
Step 2: Paint your containers (2 coats!)
Using you white paint (or really whatever color you would like!) paint your containers. I did two coats to ensure that it looked clean and even. Make sure that you allow adequate drying time in between coats.
Step 3: Make and attach your labels
Now you are ready for your labels. I used this template here for my labels, but you can make your own depending on what you need. If you don’t want them to look as uniform or you are just looking for the fastest method, you are more than welcome to handwrite these labels using a sharpie or paintbrush. Once you have cut your labels into strips, you’ll need to attach them. To attach the labels, I simply applied scotch tape to the back of them, and a little bit of double stick tape to the insides to keep them in place.
Step 4: Cut a hole in your lid
And for the final touch, I decided to cut out a little hole on the top of my tin for even easier access. I simply traced a cookie cutter but you can use whatever you have laying around the house. Then fold the lid in half and cut out your circle using scissors or an exacto knife.
But once it is full, where do I take it?
Once you have stored up a few of these, they can be recycled at any Office Depot (you actually get rewards points for it too!). You can also take them to generic recycling centers, or sell them online (there are lots of toner purchases for bulk toner containers).
Light bulbs should never be thrown away because of their mercury content. Instead, save them up in your newly made recycling station and take them to Home Depot, Lowes or IKEA. All of those places provide light bulb recycling.
Batteries cannot be thrown away because of their heavy metal content. Instead collect them in your D.I.Y. recycling station, and take them to a local recycling center when full. You can locate your nearest center at Earth911.com. IKEA will take these as well as because they are endlessly awesome!
While I don’t actually have plastic bags in our house (we have our own reusable totes and Austin has banned them) a lot of people do and they don’t know how to recycle them. My suggestion? Keep them in your recycling station containers until you are full, then take them to a recycling center at your local Target, Safeway or Walmart.
Tattered or Distressed Clothing:
While most of you probably donate your old clothing to Goodwill when they are hole free and wearable, but what about tattered clothing? But did you know that Goodwill will still take tattered clothing? They actually resell these textiles or use them for other projects. For me personally, I cut up my tattered clothing to make cleaning rags (eliminate paper towels!) and craft projects. Also, look into your local animal shelter’s donation needs. At Austin Pets Alive where we adopted Yolonda, there is always a donation need for old sheets, towels and blankets as dog bedding.