Going Up: Vertical Storage for Recycling

You may feel like you are tripping over stuff in your house right now including your family. Our family has been spending so much time in our alley and garage I feel like I’m falling over stuff in there, though I know it’s not the case. Visual clutter can cause mental clutter so do please keep this in mind especially as we may feel house-bound. Many people are using this time to themselves to clean up landscaping and organize their homes. It is spring cleaning time after all. My husband is enjoying teleworking in the garage right now with the quiet and outside-ness so I have been trying to clear the space around his “work area” so it’s easier to access and less visually distracting.

We may not be able to take our recycling to the processing center, and we may not be able to donate to our favorite organizations at this time, but we can get ready and create an ongoing maintainable system. This is what works for us.

Because I like to have a quick and easy to sweep floor, we do tend to have our recycling hanging. These are (from left to right) 1) plastic bags and film for a store drop-off or the Recycle & Reuse Drop-off Center , 2) Styrofoam for the Recycle & Reuse Drop-off Center, 3) oral care items for the neighbor in the Mueller Recycling Group that collects for TerraCycle and 4) contact lens materials for Envision Eye Center who collects for TerraCycle. None of the brick-and-mortar recycling is open right now so we’re just collecting for when we can take our items over.

Because we will need access to the car tome point to get groceries I have used our bungee cords to loop up the bags so we can pass by the car easier. It takes some balance but it works. Luckily we only use this ladder about twice a year. šŸ™‚

Yes, my dog waste bags are hanging from this shelf too. I find it the best way to keep them out of reach of my son. If the waste bags are anywhere else in the garage he seems able to find them and unroll them into an enormous trail of bags.

Depending on the weight of your bag, and where you are hanging your recycling (or other items), the type of hook or way to hang will vary. I find S hooks work really well to loop over the bars on my shelves and the bags come off with little fuss. The velcro loops allow smaller bags to hang lower and stay open more so I can easily drop items in. I’m not using the utility hook right now but if I had something heavier this would be an option. Make sure to install bike/utility hooks into a stud or use a molly bolt so the hook stays where you put it and your items don’t fall down on you.

If you don’t have a nearby hardware store, or it’s not open, consider asking your neighbors for these items. I have a ton of Velcro strips and would probably give someone the utility hook since I’m not using it as it’s currently too close to our weight rack for practical use. Keep in mind the current safety precautions and recommendations, but if you are ready or comfortable use your neighborhood networks, Marketplaces, Buy Nothing groups, etc. This will save you money and extra materials as well. Some of these items come with way more than you need or so much packaging it’s ridiculous.

I can’t find a picture (and wasn’t going to stage one) but I usually also have another hanging bag of textiles/cloth to recycle. When we wear out a sock or underwear, or destroy a toddler t-shirt I pop those in this bag. Our current textile recycling bag is too heavy so it’s in the bottom of the closet. Once it’s full I’ll drive it over to Goodwill who has a textile shredder and who Austin Resource Recovery is currently working with to recycling worn-out textiles and clothes. Do remember that if anything is wearable, it should be donated, not recycled.

Think about what you collect and if vertical space can be an option for you. I’m a visual person so this really helps me see what’s going on in my house and where we may need to work on our habits and purchasing decisions. If this isn’t an option for you, don’t forget those tops shelves in the cabinets no one can reach, or the back corner of your pantry that you hardly use. If I chose those areas, I would put a Post-It note on the cabinet or pantry to remind myself those items were there. Remember that out of sight can be out of mind, but right now that may be just what you need.

If you have a shelving unit or drawer set, especially one with clear drawers, this may be another option for you. I tried a clear drawer set for awhile, but the size was insufficient for my needs. However; if you are collecting smaller items, or need a spot for your books and clothing donations, a drawer set may be a good option for you. Don’t forget to stack the drawers sets if you have more than one in the same area.

If you live in my neighborhood and notice a new category of items through this process or cleaning that can be taken to the Recycle & Reuse Drop-off Center or mailed into TerraCycle, or a new category of items Mueller should be collecting, please let me know. You can also sign up for the Mueller Recycling Group and we can get a group conversation going! If you don’t live in Mueller, but would like to discuss creating a group like the Mueller Recycling Group, please let me know, I’d be happy to discuss and share how ours works.

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