University of Nebraska Cooperative Extension in Lancaster County Home and Community Resources


Your Home and Community
updated August 1, 2002


Home Recycling Center
submitted by Lorene Bartos, Extension Educator

Spring is in the air and it is time to think about spring cleaning. Part of the cleaning process is getting rid of old or extra items around the house. A recycling center or collection area for recycled items will help clean up and good for the environment.

Learning the local regulations for what and how to recycle is a good way to prepare for recycling. But where in your home are you going to find space for storing recyclable items? You don't need an extravagant recycling center. Instead, follow these three steps to create a recycling center in your home.

Step 1: Locate Your Center

It's easier to keep the recycling habit if you make recycling as convenient as possible. Locate your center so you can make recycling part of your daily routine. If possible, choose a spot in or near the kitchen (where most of the solid waste is generated). It's good if this spot also is convenient for hauling away items for disposal—whether loading your car for a trip to the recycling center or carrying items to the street for curbside pickup.

If you live a long distance from a recycling center, you may want to create both short-term storage inside your home and long-term storage in a garage or outdoor storage shed. Study your situation to find some space for your recycling center.

Use your imagination. A storage unit in a corner of the laundry room, or a closet could become a recycling center. You could locate your recycling center in the:

Basement. Although it's not as convenient as a main floor location, the basement may have more storage space available. Handle glass separately to prevent breakage.

Garage. It's a convenient location to remind you to haul things to the recycling center, and is ideal for larger storage containers such as garbage cans, barrels, or boxes.

Step 2: Select Storage Containers

The number and size of storage containers you'll need depends on the number of categories into which you must sort solid waste, and how often you'll be making trips to the recycling center. Some recycling programs allow various wastes to be commingled; others require wastes to be sorted.

Commercially available "recycling centers" can be expensive and may not adapt to your needs. In the true spirit of recycling, try to use existing containers, rather than buying or building new ones.

• Use paper bags on shelves, in deep drawers, or stand them on the floor. A standard grocery bag is just the right size to hold newspapers.

• Ask local stores for cardboard boxes. Line with old plastic bags to keep the cardboard dry.

• Obtain moving cartons (boxes or barrels used for moving household goods).

• Hang a bag on a hook and fill it with soft drink cans or plastic milk jugs. The bag will be easy to carry when full.

• Use old plastic bags for collecting recyclables.

Step 3: Make Recycling Easier

Make recycling a family affair. It's easier to get people involved if they know what they're supposed to do. Here's how to help.

• Have a practice session for everyone in the family. Decide who will be responsible for what recycling jobs.

• Color code, label or put pictures on containers, so small children can help sort recyclables. Show them how to separate plastics by using the numbers on the bottoms of the containers.

• Post special instructions in or near the storage area (such as a list of items that can be recycled, or special handling instructions).

• Reduce the volume of tin cans. Remove paper labels, rinse, drip-dry in a dish drainer, cut off both ends, then step on them to mash them flat.

• Keep storage areas free of insects and odors. Take materials to the recycling center frequently, or move them to a long-term storage area outside. Find a safe place for storing hazardous wastes until the items can be taken to a community clean-up day. (Contact your county extension office or the Lincoln/Lancaster County Health Department, 441-8021, for more information about hazardous wastes.)

• Make regular trips to the redemption center a part of your shopping routine.

• Provide incentives. The person who recycles the soft drink cans get to keep the refund from the redemption center.

Check the blue pages of the phone book for local recycling drop offs in the area. The Lincoln/Lancaster County Health Department will hold household hazardous waste collections throughout the year. Only household wastes will be accepted. The next collection dates will be Friday, May 3, Hickman, NE (2nd & Main), 3 to 6 p.m. and Saturday, May 4, State Fair Park, parking lot north of Ag Hall, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.


The information on this site is available for educational purposes and is valid for southeastern Nebraska. It may or may not apply in your area.

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