Saturday, October 22, 2011
Recycling - Sorting and Storing
Recycling is a big part of our homesteading lifestyle. Getting the best and most possible use out of everything we have just seems like good sense since we're trying to live simply and keep expenses down. It also helps to have a place to put things so they are not cluttering up our life. So recycling is not just about saving every scrap, but also putting it to use.
For large items, such as lumber, scrap wood, posts, fencing, and potential water tanks, etc., we have a "bone pile", a designated area of the yard where these things are stored until needed. Things such as "oops" paint, caulking, and other chemicals or supplies that would not do well out in the elements are stored in a shed. For aluminum drink cans and other household recyclables, we have an old dog run where we have sorting bins. One for aluminum drink cans, another for tin cans, one for plastics, which are further sorted by number or letter code at the recycling center, one for newspapers, cardboard, glass, etc. We find this keeps these items from blowing around the yard with our frequent high winds, and the sorting bins keep the project manageable and easier to haul to the recycling center. Also, when a need arises for a gallon plastic jug, or some newspapers, we know exactly where to find them.
Inside the house, there is a smaller scale sorting system. All junk mail, as well as waste from bills, etc., gets sorted into files: letter size pages with one side blank are used in the copier for copies that don't need to be "official"; smaller papers and envelopes with a blank area are filed for further processing into notepads, which we go through an abundance of; burnable, non-glossy pages are put in the firestarter box, along with toilet paper rolls, cereal boxes, and other small, burnable packaging; glossies go in the trash, as they don't burn well. When we had a paper shredder, we would shred alot of our junk mail, including glossies, to use as bedding for the animals and nest boxes. From there, it would go into the compost heap or be used as mulch.
In the kitchen, vegetable and fruit trimmings and peels go into a bucket for the compost heap; other scraps go into a bowl for the dog or chickens; eggshells are dried in a pie pan in the oven (on pilot light), then crushed and fed back to the chickens; coffee grounds and tea bags go into the compost bucket. We have a trash can and a recycle can. All cans, glass, and plastics get rinsed out and placed in the recycle can, later they are sorted into thier containers in our sorting bin area.
In the laundry room, worn out clothes, towels and bedding are washed well and placed in the rag basket. Some are taken to the workshop for use there. Some are placed in a mesh bag out in the tool shed to be used as oil rags or for other outdoor purposes.
Of course, many cities now have recycling programs as part of their trash pick up service. Even so, in the city one can still set up a system that works for their particular situation. If there is a recycling center nearby, you may wish to bring some items in for cash. You may want to have a compost bin for your garden; you may want to recycle junk mail for the copier or notepads, as we do; worn out clothes and such are always good for cleaning rags. In future posts, I will examine each area of potential recyclables, talk about how we repurpose them, and offer other ideas in each category. Here's to a greener life;)