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How to Sort and Organize Your Recyclables

written by: Jennifer Claerr•edited by: Niki Fears•updated: 11/19/2010

If your recyclables are a huge mess, you may feel tempted to just throw them away. If you learn to sort and organize your recycling, you won't succumb to that temptation as easily. Fortunately, getting organized is simple, quick and inexpensive.

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    Organize and Sort Your Recyclables: Getting Started

    If your recyclables are a mess, you could probably use some organization. Your curbside recycling bins are useful tools for sorting and organizing recyclables. However, it's good to have multiple recycling stations around your home and garage to organize your recyclables. These will help you to sort and organize recyclables like plastic and glass bottles, printer paper, cardboard boxes and tubes and aluminum and tin cans when you're finished using them. If these recycling stations are available when you need them, you won't have to walk across the house just to recycle one small item. Then you'll be much less likely to succumb to the temptation to throw reusable items away.

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    Find Out About Your Local Recycling Program

    How you organize and sort your recyclables will depend on how your city collects the recyclables. Call your city, check their website or look in the utility bills your city sends you for instructions on how and when to put recyclables out to the curb. Many recycling programs have certain items they won't pick up reyclcing in bins at the curb. If your city won't take the recyclables from the curb, they may still allow you to bring the items in to their recycling center on your own. Keep the recyclable items that can be picked up separate from the ones that must be taken to the recycling center.

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    Create Recycling Stations

    When you know how you need to sort and organize your recyclables, you can set up your recycling stations. Figure out how much spare space you have around the house. Look in the cabinets under the sinks in your kitchen and bathrooms. Look in the laundry room and garage. Then gather together some containers you can use to store your recyclables. If you want to save money, paper or plastic bags are fine. However, if convenience is important, use small trash cans or special containers designed especially for recycling. Many recycling organizers are available for sale that have a separate section for each type of recyclable.

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    Taking Recyclables Out to the Garage

    The containers in your recycling stations will probably fill up quickly, especially if you're short on space. Make regular trips to the garage to keep this space free for recyclables. Placing a plastic liner inside the recycling container is a helpful way to make this easier. Simply remove the plastic liner full of recyclables from the container and take it straight out to your recycling bins. Another solution is to remove each recyclable from the container individually and place it in a bag, leaving the recycling container in place. This is helpful if you have the items in a tight space where they're likely to spill if you try to remove the container.

    If you take these steps regularly, taking the recycling bin out to the curb will be a breeze. Be sure to get your family to help you to recycle whenever possible.