Compost piles, community gardens, solar panels, electric-vehicle charging stations: Everywhere you turn, there’s evidence of green thinking. Once a fringe movement populated by eccentrics
living off the grid, grinding their own wheat, and spinning their own wool, green living has become a way of life for many and a
conscious effort for most Americans.
According to GreenAnswers.com, more than 75 percent
of U.S. residents recycle to some degree. And nearly 9,000
communities provide regular curbside recycling services to their residents, SustainaBlog.org reports.
As services—and awareness—have grown, in-home recycling centers have become more common as well.
“In considering a recycle center, the important thing is that it’s easy to use and not too far away,” says Charlene McFarlane, designer for Showplace Kitchens.
George Karwoski of Swan Creek Cabinet Company agrees. “It should be convenient to the cleanup area and should have enough bins for the types of materials recycled in your community.”
Whether you’re building new or considering a recycling
center for your existing home, you have a variety of options.
“You want to think about what size of center you want and whether you want to separate everything,” says AIM Kitchen and Bath’s Corey Gersdorf.
Many companies offer retrofit products that can easily work in existing kitchens. Available with one to four bins, these systems can be installed in standard 18-inch-wide cabinet openings. Some even allow room for storing trash bags and other accessories.
“Most homeowners find this satisfies their needs,” says Cheryl Arganbright of Woodharbor of Des Moines. “One receptacle for trash and the other for recycling are usually sufficient.”
Moehl Millwork recommends the same type of system for
existing kitchens, according to designer Melissa Garrett. “I typically install a double-wastebasket system that attaches to the cabinet door and pulls out.” But Garrett says the same three words that are key in real estate transactions are also key here: location, location, location.
Kitchen design professionals emphasize locating a kitchen recycling center conveniently is important, and they often suggest sites in other areas. As Karwoski says, “A recycling center in a mudroom or laundry room can generally be larger than in the kitchen, so a four-bin unit or large single- or double-bin unit could be used.”
AIM’s Gersdorf agrees. “Because the centers with multiple bins tend to take up more space, you want
to make sure you’ll still have plenty of storage in the
kitchen.” If your cabinet space is limited, choosing an
alternate site, such as the mudroom or garage, might make more sense.
Another option, suggests McFarlane of Showplace, is using open bins instead of fully enclosing the cabinetry. “The open bins might differ in that they can be stacked so as to not take up precious floor space. In fact, one of our designers had a client who chose to have a recycling chute installed between the mudroom and garage to keep the clutter out of the house.”
Most communities no longer require recyclables to be washed and sorted, so even the smallest kitchen can probably accommodate a simple in-cabinet single-bin
recycling center. But if you have the space, a more extensive system can make your earth-friendly efforts even easier.
Open a cupboard, and you may just save the planet. No composting required.