Trash talk – separating our garbage

Trash talk

I have mentioned before how one of my favorite things about living here is that this is a recycling community. It might not be earth-shattering news for folks where this is the norm, it isn’t in this country.

Separating our garbage here is pretty simple. We are only required to separate it into organics (food refuse), recyclables (glass, aluminum, paper and cardboard), and regular garbage (everything else).

The recyclables go back to the industry, the organics are vermicomposted at the farm and used for growing organic vegetables. It’s a thing of beauty.

Trash talk - separating our garbage

As a life-long apartment-dweller it would be difficult for me to compost my own garbage, or even use the results. Hence my excitement.

The only problem with this arrangement is finding space for several trash bins. It’s not as big a problem as in countries where recyclables have to be separated even further, but it still is a problem in the average kitchen.

Trash talk - separating our garbage

I solved it by buying this bin from Amazon. At least I thought I did.

I bought the bin before the kitchen was finished (big mistake!), and when we moved I found out the bin did not fit under the sink, it was too tall.

My simple, elegant solution was defeated.

Trash talk - separating our garbage

This is our current system. Mounted on the cabinet door in front of the sink we have the Simple Human bin. This one comes with its own plastic bag storage. Since it uses smaller bags, we keep the shopping bags for it.

Under the sink a very a cheap trash bin we already had is used for regular trash. And at the bottom of another cabinet we placed a plastic basket for recyclables.

It is not as pretty a system as I envisioned, but it works for us.

Why the labels, you ask? It’s for our guests, not everyone will remember right away where things go, and its’ pretty nasty having to go digging for stuff in the garbage when I find things that don’t belong there.

Do you live in a recycling country? What is your separating system like?

Aunt Clara
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{ 8 comments… add one }

  • Aunt Clara October 15, 2010, 12:24 PM

    How interesting the different methods used in different countries.

    @Robyn: here is very similar. All recyclables go together. We are not required to clean them though. I usually do a perfunctory cleaning of things that contained food, since our recyclables basket is kept open and I don't want to attract bugs.

    @Monica: There has been some resistance and non-compliance, but we, and a lot of other people, are more than happy to do this. I am glad I don't have to separate any further, as I don't have space in the kitchen for a recycling station, but I would if we were required to do so. It's just such a tiny thing to do to help keep the planet healthy.

    @Amity: A dear friend is pleased to know you liked them. :)

  • robynj October 14, 2010, 9:10 AM

    We live in Auckland, New Zealand and for many years had a separating system, although loads of people compost as we generally have big gardens. Eventually the council found the same thing that you did i.e. people put the wrong stuff in the wrong bin. in the end the council gave us all one really big bin into which all recycling goes, once it has been cleaned (very important)and someone else sorts it out…

  • Amity October 14, 2010, 11:10 AM

    I am in an apartment. Having grown up on a farm, a certified organic one at that, I can't bear to throw food out. So my solution is a food grade white bucket with a lid that has a rubber seal. And a dear friend sent me these stickers from Punta Cana so my bucket is labeled "organicos" ;). Now I have plenty of friends with farms or homesteads here so it is not uncommon to visit them with a bucket of material to compost…no one bats an eyelash at this behavior (I love Mainers).

  • Anonymous October 14, 2010, 8:15 AM

    Hi Clara! This is Monica from Italy, Rome. I live in a neighborhood in which there is the separating system. Like you, at the very beginning we had some organisation problems, but now it works… for us. I mean, in our area it is ok, we live in semi-detached houses and we can manage it, but those who live in the big buildings,they find it very annoying and hard to do. The space is never enough in city apartments and sometimes citizens are not so willing to do things properly… it's a matter of culture, I suppose. Hopefully the new generations will be more attentive to this issue, for their own future!!!Monica

  • Aunt Clara October 13, 2010, 6:38 PM

    Heh! Not yet. We have some ceiling repairs pending, they were supposed to be done last month, but we needed 5 solid days of sunshine and hasn't happened. I am not painting anything until all the repairs are finished. I'll keep you posted.

  • Iraida October 13, 2010, 5:47 PM

    Oh, and I was trying to find the blog, but: did you ever paint the kitchen cabinets white? If u did, could you direct me to it?Thanks!!!

  • Aunt Clara October 13, 2010, 4:57 PM

    Oh, thanks Iraida. I'll be in SD on Thu, if I have the time I'll stop by Ikea and check them (out of curiosity, our system is working fine for us).

  • Iraida October 13, 2010, 4:51 PM

    I live in an apt complex in GA and we don't recycle, bummer! I really wish we did… I think it's great that they have it there, GOOOO DR!!! well, gooo Punta Cana!!! But I was looking at Ikea's website last night actually, and they have these recycling "bins" that can be mounted on the wall or go kinda flattish at the end of the kitchen counter which I think would work well as space saver for us apt-living people.. Have u seen those?