Welcome to Green Boot Camp

Welcome to Green Boot Camp blog, a 52-week program to help you become a greener you in 2008. This is the companion blog to The Lean Green Family (formerly Suddenly Frugal).

Monday, December 24, 2007

Week Two--Recycling Plastic, Cans and Glass, Oh My

One of the best ways I trained myself to recycle my plastic, cans and glass from the kitchen was to dump the stuff in the sink. Don't worry--I didn't leave it there forever. No, I put that stuff in the sink because in order to recycle plastic, cans and glass, they need to be clean. And if your soup cans, glass jars and plastic yogurt containers are already in the sink with the dishes, you can easily clean them out--then put them in the recycling bin.

With that in mind, keep your recycling bin near your kitchen sink so that it doesn't become too much trouble to get those recyclables into their proper receptacle (and I don't mean the trash).

Now what about the recyclables you might find in the rest of the house? Well, get recycling bins for each of those rooms. For example, in my laundry room I've got an extra trash can where I can toss empty detergent bottles. Because my laundry room is across the hall from my master bathroom, I'll also use that trash can for bath-oriented recyclables, like empty shampoo bottles or the plastic container that Venus razor blade heads come in (though it might be more environmentally responsible to get the Recycline Razor made from recycled plastic). With these extra bins situated around the house, then all you have to do is make collecting recyclables a part of your garbage-collection routine before trash day.

Of course, one of the best ways to recycle an item is to figure out a way to reuse it. Coffee cans are a terrific place to store loose crayons, and empty jars make excellent nail and screw holders. A Trenton, New Jersey company called TerraCycle has figured out a way to reuse recyclable bottles by turning them into the containers for its eco-friendly products, like bird feeders and worm poop-based fertilizers.

Perhaps on your way to making recycling plastic, cans and glass a new habit, you can come up with creative ways to reuse your items as well. If you do, I'd love to hear those ideas.


Suzanne said...

In my apartment I have two bins under my kitchen sink: one for garbage (mostly food scraps, cellophane, and other things that don't seem recyclable), and a much bigger one for the ridiculous amount of recyclable packaging I seem to acquire every time I get routine stuff at the grocery store. We definitely recycle a lot more than we toss, but it bothers me that there is so much freaking packaging to begin with! You'd think these companies would want to save money on raw packaging material by engineering out all the unnecessary flaps and double-wraps. My favorite personal products company is Lush - they try not to use much packaging for their fresh products at all, and a bar of their soap literally lasts months, so the expense is worth it (oh and it smells sooooo good). I want to do food and yard waste composting but I only have a small patio and am not sure how to go about not attracting animals. I really wish apartment complexes provided scrap and yard waste bins and used the resulting organic mulch in the landscaping! Maybe I'll suggest such a thing to management. Probably would be a good idea to have some numbers behind me to prove what a good idea it is...

Daisy said...

I re-use coffee cans at school for holding pencils, markers, extra scissors, etc. I usually cover them with contact paper for aesthetics, but that's optional.

Leah Ingram said...


I totally hear you on the excess packaging thing! I actually will have an article in the February 2008 issue of Continental Magazine (Continental Airlines' inflight) about green packaging. I'll be sure to post a link once the story is up.


Leah Ingram said...


I've got so many coffee cans now that I think that as I begin to tackle the mess that I call my home office, I'm going to start using those coffee cans as organization tools like teachers do. Decorating with contact paper is a great idea!