Of all the rooms in the home, the kitchen has to be one of the most frequently-used rooms of them all. Most of us start the day with breakfast of some kind (even if it’s just a coffee in a mug-to-go), while lunches can be prepared to take with us or eat in the house if we’re at home. Dinnertime brings with it a whole other challenge as we cook food, clear away, wash the dishes and try to get the room back to looking like normal.
It’s no surprise to learn the kitchen is the most demanding room in the house when it comes to rubbish. When you think of all the packaging that comes with our foods, it’s easy to get overwhelmed with it all if you don’t have a plan in place to tackle it. With recycling becoming such an important element nowadays, tackling all that rubbish can be even harder still.
However there are all kinds of bins out there that can help you recycle more than you are at the moment. With this in mind, let’s explore a few ideas that will help you get the most from your recycling efforts in the kitchen.
How much do you throw away at the moment?
This is an all-important question because it will reveal how much room there is for improvement. While most of us recycle as much as we can, we’ve all had days when we’re too busy or too tired to wash up that can or rinse out that plastic tray that could easily be recycled.
Very often the ease with which we can recycle depends on the number of bins we have and how easy it is to separate out our rubbish. Being able to separate it at the moment of throwing everything away is essential. No one wants to go through a week’s worth of mixed rubbish to separate it all the night before the rubbish collectors are due to arrive.
With that in mind, head into your kitchen now and take a look at the bins you have there. How do they work for you at the moment? Are they too big or too small? Do you have enough of them? Are they cluttering up the kitchen? Do they look out of place with the décor?
The trick here is to find the most appropriate solution for your kitchen, and that’s what we’ll aim to do now.
Okay so we’ve already established the importance of separating waste products at the point of throwing them away. This makes your weekly task of putting out the rubbish a lot easier than it would otherwise be. However you may not want (or have the room for) four or five bins to use in this way. The more bins you have the more likely it is your kitchen will look rather cluttered. Not the kind of impression you’ll be going for, I’m sure.
The good news is there is a solution, and it comes in the form of a compartment bin. This is basically a bin that has at least two compartments inside; some of them even have three. From the outside though, it looks just like an ordinary bin. Most of these are pedal-operated so if you have something to throw away you just have to put your foot on the pedal, wait for the lid to lift and put your rubbish in the relevant section. You can use these for any type of rubbish too, since the inner bin sections can always be removed individually. It makes them easier to empty both during the week and at the time when you’re putting the rubbish out.
Smart solutions for small spaces
When space is really of the essence, it becomes even more important to consider what size bin you need for your kitchen. For instance, if you’ve got a space that’s two feet square with no limit on the height you can have, you can pretty much be confident any bin will fit. It’s just a question of finding something that suits your needs and looks good in that space. However if you really are short on space you need to look at one thing first – the floor.
Now this might sound a bit odd but bear with me for a moment. Every bin has a footprint – the amount of space it takes up on the floor. If space is at a premium it can work better to have a bin with a footprint that is either square or rectangular in shape. If you were to buy a round one you would lose some of the space you have available. Imagine a circle drawn inside a square – the corners would be wasted but you would still have to use that amount of space to accommodate the bin.
Therefore, to get the most out of the space you have, you should look for a bin that is square or rectangular. These are readily available and you can usually get them with a couple of bins hidden inside as well. It certainly makes recycling that little bit easier without the need for cluttering up the kitchen. In many cases the interior bins are handily colour-coded so you can decide which colour bin is allocated to each type of rubbish. On the outside however, these bins can look superb with a silver finish completed with a black lid and pedal.
Are smaller bins a smarter idea?
Actually they can be, even though some people think they won’t be because they need emptying more often. It might seem a better idea to get a large bin for the kitchen so you don’t have to empty it during the week at all. This might work for recycled items as they all have to be washed prior to throwing them away (read on for more information on this). Paper and cardboard won’t smell either, but things you cannot recycle certainly will. The same applies to any food you’re keeping to be recycled by your council (or items that can go into your compost bin if you have one).
Smaller bins mean more frequent changes, but they also mean a more fragrant kitchen. There’s little chance of walking through your kitchen wondering what on earth that smell is…
Keeping your bins as clean as possible
It’s important to remember that items separated for recycling should be clean and dry before recycling them, otherwise they are treated as being contaminated and may not actually be recycled after all. It would be a shame if all your hard work went to waste, so it’s important to wash everything and let it dry before throwing it into the appropriate bin.
You’ll no doubt have outdoor bins or crates provided by your council to use for putting the rubbish out on collection day. As far as recycled items are concerned, these need to be put into those bins without being sorted into plastic bags first. Wash your cans, bottles and plastic items, dry them off and throw them straight into your bin – even the bin in your kitchen. This is why the internal bins are always made from heavy-duty plastic. They’re designed to last the test of time and to take all the rubbish required.
If you don’t wash everything you may have your rubbish rejected instead of taken away. Furthermore there is a good chance your bin will start smelling less than fragrant! As a precaution you should always take the opportunity to wipe the interior of all your bins with some antibacterial spray on a light cloth each week once they’ve been emptied. It’s a sure way to keep them smelling fine.
Choosing a main kitchen bin
There will always be things you cannot recycle. However with any luck these will be kept to a minimum once your kitchen is properly set up for recycling. You’ll still need a main kitchen bin though, so it’s worth spending some time looking for something that works for you.
The main question to consider to begin with is whether or not your council has a separate collection for food waste. Many councils are now doing this and it means you don’t have to throw food waste into your main bin. Instead you can separate it into a small lockable bin that is usually kept outside your property. They might provide you with a small caddy for the kitchen to put your waste in before transferring it outside, but if they don’t you can look for a combination waste bin instead. You might prefer this option anyway when you see how it works.
We’ve covered combination bins already, but this option is a little different. In this case you can buy one large bin that has a small separate compartment inside that’s visible when you lift the lid. Depending on what you have to throw away you can throw items into the main bin or put food items into the small section. When this smaller section needs emptying you can lift it out and tip it into your outer lockable food bin. One quick wash and it’s ready to be replaced. Even if you have a compost bin in the garden this kitchen bin option is still worth considering. After all, there are food items you cannot put in your composter, such as bones and cooked food.
What’s the best solution for your kitchen?
The easier it is to recycle every piece of rubbish you come across, the more you will do it. If you are currently struggling to manage your bins and you don’t have anywhere to put the items that can be recycled, you’re probably going to throw away more than you have to when it comes to general rubbish. That’s not good for the planet since the landfills only have a finite amount of space available for new rubbish to go into.
The best place to start is with your local council. If you’re not sure what they’ll recycle and what they won’t, go online and find the latest information. Some councils will require their residents to separate paper, but they’ll take a mixed bag of glass, plastic and foil. Other councils might ask people to separate glass and plastic items as well. Once you know what is asked of you, you’ll be in a much better position to assess the number of bins your kitchen should have.
It’s then a matter of deciding where these bins can go and how big they can be. It seems like a lot of work to put into figuring out how to throw things away, but once your bins are in place you’ll realise it was all worth it. None of us want our bins to stand out too much in the kitchen, but at the same time they have to serve the purpose they are intended for. If you buy the wrong ones, or you buy too many when you could have bought a couple of combination ones instead, you’ll find they stand out rather than shrinking into the background.
How well prepared is your kitchen for recycling at the moment? Could you invest in some new and better-designed bins to make it a breeze to separate and recycle as much as possible?