About two months ago LittleMan took a tour of a local recycling center with one of his homeschool groups. Ever since that field trip LittleMan has been reminding us constantly to watch what we put in the trash and make sure we recycle everything we can. Given his increased interest in recycling, we thought it would be a good time to put together a recycling station in our own home.
Keep reading for details of our field trip, the directions to make your own recycling station, and free printable recycling bin labels.
If you are local to Michigan then you’ve got to check out the MSU Recycling Center and Surplus Store! Just look at how excited LittleMan was at the end of his tour!
We’ve always thought of ourselves as eco-friendly people since we use canvas shopping bags, walk or ride public transportation, cloth-diaper, compost our kitchen scraps, and recycle our plastic bottles but there was so much more that we could be doing. Our tour here really opened our eyes to all the wastes that people produce.
We saw all sorts of amazing ways to reduce what we use and reuse things which normally go to waste. For example, the parking lot was made of a special material which allowed the rain water to absorb down through it and into the ground below. And there were containers that caught rain water on top of the building. Just think of all the ways you could use rain water if you had a similar set up at your house. You’d never have to waste tap water to water your lawn and house plants again!
We also saw a lot of amazing examples of recycled materials. A table that was made up of broken glass pieces. Faux wood benches that were made from recycled plastic. There was a ton of art on display made entirely of re-used materials.
But what astounded me the most was when we went into the actual sorting area. Piles upon piles of recyclable materials (as pictured). When I first walked in, I thought it looked like a landfill. I noted so many things that I normally threw away. Styrofoam packaging, for one.
LittleMan and I both walked away with a desire to do better, to reduce our impact on the environment more than we already did.
Some of the store bought recycling stations could cost a pretty penny, anywhere from $36 to $120 that I found. So we designed our own option that cost us less than $15.
We started off with three 10-gallon Sterilite containers, purchased from Walmart for $4.68 each. We don’t have a real need for a place to keep our glass recyclables since we rarely have any, however if you do find that you have glass recyclables then you’ll want to get four containers rather than three.
I then created labels for each bin, printed them on cardstock, and laminated them for durability. (Not required but recommended. If you don’t have a laminator then I suggest using clear packaging tape to cover the fronts of the labels.)
Click here to download your own Free Printable Recycling Bin Labels
I then used some fun colored duct tape to attach one label to each bin.
Finally, use a utility knife or strong pair of scissors to cut holes into each bin.
For the plastics and metals bin I recommend taking a bowl that is slightly larger than the bottles/cans you usually recycle and tracing it onto the front of the bin with a Sharpie marker. Then just cut that circle out.
For the paper bin, it can be harder to fit thing in through a little round hole. Papers tend to do better when stacked flat, so I recommend cutting the center part out of the lid and keeping the paper bin on the top.