Leith has the highest density population in Scotland, with more than 90 per cent of people living in a tenement or flat. In January 2019 we asked Leithers: “What is the most important thing we can do to help you achieve zero waste?” and the top request was to make recycling easier for residents.
We know that recycling in a small space can sometimes be challenging, but no need to ‘bin’ the idea! Changeworks volunteer Lisa Heywood shares her top tips for making recycling easier and for storing it in small spaces.
1. Think outside the box
Recycling in your flat doesn’t necessarily have to be put in huge storage boxes. You could use anything, from a pedal bin or plastic crate, to containers or bags that hang inside cupboards! Bags are great for small spaces, as they are only as big as what you put in them. You could use a sturdy tote bag, an old shopping bag. Or better yet, come along to one of our pop-up stall events to get your hands on one of our free limited edition recycling storage bags made specially for Leith.
Whilst you are deciding what type of storage container to use, also consider where will be most convenient to put it. Sometimes this is in the kitchen, on the countertop or in a cupboard, or beside the front door where it’ll be easy to grab on the way out. Be creative! It can go in bags on hooks (on a door, cupboard or wall – use stick-on hooks that don’t leave marks), in stacked boxes or crates, on a shelf or in a drawer.
2. A Place for Everything
In Leith there are five types of bin on your street to collect waste and recycling – but you might not need five boxes inside your flat. If space is tight, why not combine mixed recycling, paper and glass into one bag and sort it straight into the street bins. Just make sure everyone in the household knows the plan! Download our handy ‘what goes in each bin’ poster and put it next to your recycling to help keep everyone right.
Edinburgh Council gives away free kitchen caddies for collecting your food waste recycling but you could also use an old yoghurt or ice cream tub to save space. Order your caddy online or collect one from McDonald Road or Leith Library as part of our trial until 31 January 2020.
Now that you’ve got recycling sorted, you can probably downsize your rubbish bin too.
3. Save yourself a trip
I will fully own up to being someone who avoids taking the bins out. So here’s my favourite tip of all: whatever container you decide to use, line it with a reusable bag (we just use a sturdy supermarket bag). This way its easy to carry the bag of recycling on your way out of the house, and once empty you can pop them in your pocket or your day bag and be on your way – saving yourself a trip up and down the stairs.
4. Clean and fresh
Don’t forget to rinse your recycling before it goes in the bin. It doesn’t need to be sparkling clean, but this will keep things smelling fresh, as well as making sure the recycling is high quality so it can be properly recycled.
Food waste recycling is easy, and is the most important recycling to do to avoid releasing lots of climate-changing greenhouse gases. When it comes to food waste you can now use any bag to collect food scraps (paper or plastic bags including cereal packets, bread bags or old shopping bags). This is also the one kind of waste you must leave in the bag, which makes the street bins easier and cleaner for staff to empty. If you choose to use the thin biodegradable bags, you can avoid any leaks by carrying it in the caddy to the street bin.
5. Give it some style
If you want to keep your bins incognito, there are lots of creative ways to make your recycling space look stylish, like with patterned, sleek or colourful boxes. Alternatively you could store your containers in a cupboard or drawer, or use a pedal bin with a lid. If you’re using bags you could use tote bags with bold designs, and there are a multitude of stylish food caddies available on the internet!