Recycling when you don’t have curbside pick up

(I was one of the bloggers selected by True Value to work on the DIY Squad. I have been compensated for my time commitment to the program as well as writing about my experience. I have also been compensated for the materials needed for my DIY project. However, my opinions are entirely my own and I have not been paid to publish positive comments.)

Our old house had curbside recycling. They would pick it up in a separate garbage can along with the garbage. It was so easy and I never thought much about it. We didn’t even have to sort it! Recycling for so many years got me into the habit, and now I cringe if I toss something recyclable into the garbage.

Fast forward to our new house. This new house does not have curbside recycling. At first I didn’t really know what to do with my recyclable material, so I just threw it away, which drove me nuts. I hate throwing away a perfectly good piece of plastic, metal, or cardboard when it can be recycled instead. Our earth has finite resources so recycling is a very easy way you can help make the earth a better place for future generations.

One day my daughter came home from school and started working on a craft. She asked me for a large box and some markers. I happily gave her the supplies she wanted and about an hour later she surprised us with our very own recycling container.

Apparently she had learned about recycling at school, and the child is very impressionable, so naturally she came home and immediately did what she could to help us be better at saving the planet. We started to fill the box, and once it was almost full I figured I’d better figure out where to drop off the items for recycling. A quick google search showed me several recycling facilities in the area. After a few phone calls I found out that each center is unique. Some take glass, some don’t. Some take plastics #1 – #7, some only take up to #3 or so. Some charge you to drop off your collected items, some actually PAY YOU for your recyclable material. Obviously we will be driving to the one that pays us. 🙂

However, all the centers I called want all the items sorted before you bring them in. Our old neighborhood just let you toss all of it together into a bin, so this sorting business is new for us. Yes, it is slightly more inconvenient to collect, sort, and drop off the material, but it makes us feel better about all the trash we consume and throw away, and the kids are very motivated because I told them they can split the money earned from dropping off the materials each month.

To help us streamline the production I headed to True Value to pick up a few supplies.

I already had the green container (the previous owners left it), but I needed a few more containers so we could sort the materials as we collected them. I purchased two garbage cans (these exact ones aren’t on the True Value website, but here are a variety of other options) and I also picked up a very cool Feed & Eject Can Crusher for all the soda cans. If you crush them you can fit a ton more in your bag before it’s full.

As you can see, we are partial to Diet Dr Pepper over here. In Texas they start you young on the Dr Pepper. 😉

I bought 2 garbage cans from True Value: One of plastics and one for metal.

The green container I am using for paper, magazines, and cardboard. As the bin fills up I will tie each stack of paper into a little bundle. Collecting the paper for recycling also helps me feel less guilty about my magazine addiction (I get Us Weekly and BHG each month plus an obscene amount of catalogs).

Once each container is full I just start a new bag and save the full ones for when I make the trip to the recycling center to drop everything off.

I don’t have one for glass yet because our local center won’t take glass. The closest place that takes glass is about 45 minutes from my house. I’m already feeling quite guilty about tossing the glass, so I’m sure I’ll add a 3rd garbage can to the mix soon enough.

Does your city or neighborhood have recycling? If so, I am jealous! Do you recycle? What tips and tricks do you have that make it easier for you? I would love to have a few more ideas for streamlining my system and making it even better!

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  1. You’ll have to let me know where this recycling center that pays you is located. I would love to start taking our stuff there

  2. Luckily we have curbside recycling and everything goes into the container! It used to be picked up weekly but now it’s every 2 weeks. Wish it was the garbage that was every 2 weeks as we fill the recycle up more than garbage. Of course it came the day before Christmas and not again until Jan 7…..we had too much for the container so overflow had to stay in the garage. The can is almost full again and we have until Jan 21st…..yikes! I too hate to put something in the trash that can be recycled.

  3. I love the can crusher. We will have to look for one for our recycling sorting area. And this getting paid sounds great! I have two tall laundry sorters in my laundry room that holds our daily recycling and then it’s taken out to the garage (detached) a couple times a week as needed. There we sort into totes and a large trashcan…newspaper, mixed paper, cardboard, metal, plastic and glass. Or plastic goes into a bag lined trash can, we have a lot of plastic. The rest into their respective tote that has a lid. When the tote gets full, on goes the lid and another tote goes right on top. This helps with getting the totes to the center and allows for stacking in the car that doesn’t fall over and spill on the trips. (We learned by experience!) When we get to our transfer station we have to do all the sorting ourselves so this helps make that time there go quicker! But it is worth it and makes us feel better about making our foot print on the earth smaller!!

  4. I remember when Austin went to single stream recycling – no more sorting into those impossibly tiny bins they provided, or buying your own which were quickly destroyed at the curb! We have a plain white trash can in the kitchen that we toss recycles into, and when it’s full I have one of the boys take it out to the main recycling dumpster. We can actually skip a couple of weeks of trash to the curb each month because the bulk of what goes out now is recycle-ables! (:

  5. We pay an independent small disposal business to pick up our trash weekly. They also take our recycling. Everything goes together and is sorted at a facility before being loaded onto a commodities train to be recycled/repurposed. Other people in our community bring their recycling to the transfer station with their trash.

    As for beverage cans, any carbonated beverage container has a 5 cent deposit attached to it at the time of purchase to encourage you to return it for recycling. I am horrible at returning them because the machines that crush the cans are very loud. When I do, I typically receive about $10! That’s a lot of cans/bottles!

  6. We have curbside pick-up out here in California and always have, but we still recycle our own cans, plastics and glass to get paid for them from the local recyclers! Every little bit helps! 🙂

  7. Living outside city limits, we have a small company pick up our trash. No recycling is available. While there is a transfer station about 5 miles away, we must drive over broken glass to get to the place where we unload. No thanks. At this point, we simply save our cardboard and haul it into town for recycling (in a business’ recycle dumpster). Everything else, which really isn’t much, goes to the landfill. I’ll check into recycling again next year, and if accessibility improves, then yes, we’ll recycle.

  8. The good news about the glass is that it doesn’t pile up as quickly as other recyclables (at least at my house). The only place that takes glass where I live is Target. But they only have a tiny bin by the customer service, so I always fill it up whenever I drop off my glass!

  9. We live just outside of Denver so we don’t get this, but they have a curbside composting service in some neighborhoods. Fancy!

  10. Good for you guys! We have curbside recycling which I am very thankful for. We actually had to ask for an extra bin so we can fit it all. I bring home my recyclables from work too since our building doesn’t recycle and it drives me nuts.

  11. Hi, I live in the UK, and our area is mad on recycling. We have 4 bins provided: blue for paper and cardboard; black for tins, glass and plastic; green for garden waste and food waste; and grey for anything that cann’t go in the other 3.
    Two bins are collected and emptied every week.
    The green gets collected every week, the grey every other week The black and blue collected once a month each, slotted inbetween the grey collections.
    Don’t worry we have a chart printed out to show which is collected and when, except we all follow my next door neighbour! He puts his out first and we all just follow him-he’s never been wrong yet.
    The grey bin is half the size of the other bins so you have to sort and recycle just so you can last out the two weeks.(clever these recycling people)
    All our bins are lined up at the side of the house near our side door but some neighbours have them in the back garden (yard ) and one or two neighbours have them in the front of the house, which I personally do not like. As all bins have to be taken to the curbside, some people think it makes it easier to have them at the front to start with.
    I think we are lucky that our council take such a strong stand on recycling.

  12. Agh! Hated the sort yourself recycling…especially since they would just throw it all into the same place on the truck anyway. We recently went to curbside all in one container and I just about broke down and cried out of thankfulness. : )
    one thing that I still do that helps a lot is having cheap target $5 big soft plastic bins around the places we recycle most in the house, and just take those out every few days to separate (or throw) into the bins. Makes it so much nicer and organized!

  13. Love this post! In Portland we are lucky because most everything can be recycled curbside. We can even put compost in our yard debris can so there is no need to have a pile in the backyard that needs tending. The only thing I have to save is batteries and light bulbs, which I sneak into the recycle bins at work 🙂

  14. m @ random musings says:

    in parts of IA at least, we have a redemption center: they will give you the deposits back on the pop cans (uncrushed) and free disposal of paper/other plastics. A lot of the groceries have machines for the deposit material. But the cans have to be in original shape – no crushing!

  15. We have curbside service , but I forget to take it out all the time. We just took 6 weeks worth of recycling out to the curb, now we kind of look like alcoholics and Amazon addicts. 😉

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