Cleaning Up My Recycling Closet

In the past, I've always tried to recycle, but that usually meant just sorting the obvious things - plastic bottles and cardboard boxes. We were never all that diligent about sorting... until we moved to Brooklyn Heights. People really care about recycling here (including and maybe especially the people that live next to us).  :) There might have been a situation where they tattled on us for not sorting good enough (whoopsies).

I have to say though, I'm actually sort of grateful we got busted. We were pushed to figure out a solution where we carved out some space to quickly and easily sort out our plastics, glass and paper. And now, recycling is a breeze, truly, and I feel less guilt-ridden. Like we are doing our part.

Here's how we did it:


We have a little closet right by the front door on the parlor level. It's across from the powder bath and around the corner from the kitchen. I think it was meant to be a coat closet or maybe even a pantry at one time. Mostly it was just disgusting. (seriously)

 

The painters the landlord hired to paint the brownstone before we moved in did a pretty shoddy job. They didn't paint the insides of any of the closets. I mean, what? Weird. So slowly I've been tackling one closet at a time to fix the situation, but I hadn't had a chance to do the recycling closet until recently. See that gross cream color? That was the color of the entire house before we moved in and it just looked dirty. (doesn't the Cabbage White look much more fresh?)


Gross. I'm am totally disgusted by the state of this closet and I live here. Apologies. No wonder I was no good at recycling! Who would want to open the door for this view:



30+ years of cream paint in a garbage closet is bound to look bad, even after a few scrubbings! So a new coat of paint in the closet was added to the to-do list. But probably the biggest issue we've had with the recycling situation is the girls had trouble figuring out how to sort items in the identical bins we had in the closet.


So on the fly I primed and painted just the outsides of the bins with chalkboard paint. Then I went outside to the recycling bins in front of our house and snapped photos of the two sorting guides.



I'd been dying to put my chalkboard pen to use again (they are so cool - totally recommend picking one up at an art supply store or you can buy one here). Gracie and I chose a couple of items to display on each of the bins and talked about layout and then she got to work with the chalkboard pen.



Claire was a little bummed she missed out on the illustrating action this time, but that's the good news about chalkboard (pen) recycling bins - the pen wipes off with a wet rag, so she can have a turn as often as she likes. Whatever helps them to learn their sorting, right? :)


Also, don't the walls look about a million times better? They got a fresh coat of white paint, which  was a huge improvement on its own, but horizontal stripes make every space more fun. Especially in tiny little secret spaces, where the stripes surprise you every time you need the broom or go to throw away an empty olive oil bottle.



And I'm happy to report that the mini-makeover and the new recycling bins have totally improved our recycling habits, and by a lot. The girls are just about pro-level recyclers now and it's so cool to see them excitedly taking ownership over what used to be a chore for us all.


I'd love to hear what you guys do to make recycling (or anything to live a more green lifestyle) an easy habit for you and your family. I'm working on adding more eco-friendly cleaning products into my housekeeping routine. My sister in law is a budgeting super-star and an all-around phenomenal housekeeper. When I mentioned this post to her, she says she uses and completely loves Green Works, and I'm excited to take her word for it and try it myself.


This post is sponsored by Green Works. You don't have to compromise to be clean when you use hard working, plant-based cleaners by The Clorox Company.

Check out this quick video to learn more. :)

54 comments:

Lindsey McLean said...

AWESOME! I love sponsored posts that are natural and don't feel contrived!!! :) You killed it. xo

Elizabeth @ The Little Black Door said...

You've got a great artist on your hands! :) Such a great idea to do something good but in an organized and clean way.

homeofbambou said...

Much better indeed! It is such a fun and educational idea to involve your girls in this project!! In Belgium we are quite good at recycling. We have to sort: paper, cans and plastic bottles, batteries, glass and the rest. This makes 5 groups! I have too have two big bins (for the cans and the rest)... But for the 3 others (glass, paper and batteries), I use this floating ikea system : http://www.ikea.com/be/fr/catalog/products/00165703/

not pretty, but pretty narrow, and perfect for a weird nook in my kitchen.

Lane McNab said...

OK, now I am ashamed of our laundry room! I would be thrilled if most of our closets looked like your before pic. Beautiful transformation.

Here in Berkeley people are crazy about recycling, composting, and some of my friends reuse their gray water. We aren't there yet but we did get solar panels with our last remodel.

-Lane
www.urbanorchardinteriors.com

Marci said...

We have single stream recycling in the Philadelphia suburbs and it is a godsend! It's made me into a recycling queen.

The striped closet is inspiring me to do something fun in our pantry -- AKA the shelves and hook situation that lines the stairs into the unfinished basement. I'm feeling some polka dots!

Thanks for the inspiration!

MeMoBaby.com said...

Of course! Only you, Jenny would take the time to paint stripes inside of a closet! It looks amazing (as usual) and Gracie, great job on that art work!

blue chickadee said...

Wow! Always impressed with what you come up with to turn something drab into something amazing. You almost want to leave that door open so everyone can see how "beautiful" your recycling space is!!!

Erin said...

Would you please come run my life? :) This is so lovely, and such a good example of how making little things nicer really does matter in improving the quality of every day.



Lauren {Stylized Existence} said...

You are a wonder woman! That is the cutest recycling closet I have EVER seen!

Hannah said...

UM hello this is adorable. Makes me want to paint the inside of every nook and cranny!

Champagne Lifestyle on a Beer Budget

blair said...

I love how you painted the inside of this closet! A typically forgotten space is made so special.

MollyB said...

Haha - your daughter made "Elle Decor" an example for paper recycling. Clearly a decorator in the making!

Laurie Swartz said...

Where do you find the time to paint stripes? Will you please do a tutorial on the stripes? Do you have any secrets to share on the clean lines and the ever daunting task of spacing? This is a great post. Another reason why you should win the Homies hands down. Thanks.

Joanna said...

Looks awesome, but I hope Gracie knows Pizza boxes aren't recyclable! :)

Haley Y said...

We have one-stream recycling, and I agree with a previous commenter that it is amazing. We have two doors under our sink: one leads to the trash can (with a bag) and the other leads to the recycling bin (no bag). That's it! So it's just as easy to throw something in the recycling as it is to throw it in the trash. :)

Ann said...

What a creative teaching moment for your girls. I love your daughter's artwork. In Encinitas, CA, we are passionate about recycling, but it all goes in one bin. My solution for sorting trash and recycling may not be popular with many people. We removed the dishwasher, and built a pull-out drawer with two bins: one for recycling and one for trash. It is out of sight and handy. We don't miss the dishwasher.

pve design said...

We only had recycling once a week for glass and the following for paper and now they come 2 x a week in our village. We have bins in our garage which make it easy. That said, I admire "zero waste" blogger whose less trash is more than inspiring. I worry about recycling that we are leaving behind so much.
I try to reduce, reuse and recycle.
Your closet is charming.
pve

Bec said...

Gracie is a fantastic little artist! Must take after her mom! I love the idea of drawing on the bins. I may need to copy you. :) And your once-scary closet: so pretty! What a transformation! It's incredible the influence a pretty space can have on our lives.

Sam and Ben's Mom said...

Your home always makes me swoon!

I may have missed it but did you list the source of the black pendant lights in your kitchen? I would love to know.

Jennifer

Jen @ RamblingRenovators said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jen @ RamblingRenovators said...

Cute! I've got a striped broom closet too and it makes cleaning infinitely more bearable :)

Reshma Sanjeev said...

That's such a great idea. Love it. Gracie is an artist.
Love the stripes in the closet too...more so since I have it in my coat closet too....:-)
http://weekendtweaks.blogspot.com/search/label/Closet

Nancy said...

What a difference that paint makes and the ease of those bins make in recycling. Great job ! your girls are darling.
xo nancy
Powellbrowerhome.com

Amanda said...

I love this! Recycling is so important. I like the 'pop' can! I call it pop too and everyone always makes fun of me.

GirlieBeku said...

I loooove how the recycling closet turned out!!!!
And those pictures of the kitchen! What a tease! HOME TOUR OR VIDEO TOUR!!!!!

Maggie Rose said...

Ugh, I'm ashamed to say that our hall closet looks SO much like your "before" (we also rent). Ours is our coat closet, vacuum & broom storage, tool box storage, vase storage, lightbulbs, cleaning supplies, AND gift wrap. You're inspiring me to clean it out and make it a little prettier (and to snag a real bin for our recycling in our kitchen! Also, I totally had Grace's haircut when I was her age, hehehe.

Sarah Bradley said...

Great teaching experience! Recycling is so important!

Another amazing thing you can do for the environment is switch to eco-friendly cleaning products. A Blog About Love did a great write-up about the ingredients to avoid and why: http://www.ablogaboutlove.com/2013/02/how-to-do-product-purge.html
My favorite products to replace the bad ones are 7th Generation, Method and of course it's super easy to make your own (vinegar and water for a glass cleaner, anyone?!)... :)

Katherine said...

Perfect! This is inspiring me to organize and beautify my linen closet! What are the yellow boxes you used on the shelf?

Katherine said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Elizabeth said...

Love it. I also use the purple swiffer, but I refill the soap bottle with my own mixture. If you dip the cap in hot water you can get it off and fill it with some Mrs. Meyers (smells much better!) or water, dish soap and tea tree oil.

Anne Marie's mommy said...

Hey Jenny, I have been reading your blog for forever and I love it. This post really struck home for me - my husband and I got so frustrated with the recycling situation at home with our two little girls that we actually have designed a snap-together recycling/regular trash can called the Solecan. After working on it for more than a year we are launching it on Kickstarter in a few weeks!

Bromeliad said...

You. Striped. Your. Closet.
I bow to you.

Rachel Mae said...

I love this! What do you think about stripes like that in a powder bath not much larger than your closet? would it be too prison-like?

Allan Murray said...

Love to see your recycling activities. Nowadays, recycling is important to reduce carbon footprint and save the environment. From worn or unused wood, window panes, chairs, Interior Glass Doors, tables can still be refurbished, recycled and reused.

www.carolynsmithdesigns.com said...

Love the stripes. I'm also suddenly into painting closets. Why shouldn't closets be fun? Thanks for sharing.

Kaela said...

What a little artist you have! I love her illustrations! (and the stripes on the inside! yay!)

Emily said...

I want to do striped walls in a room SO BAD!! Alas, I'm most definitely going to have to wait until we move this summer before I even start thinking about it. :/

pigsb3 said...

WOW! You are so talented and make everything so beautiful it makes me want to cry.

pigsb3 said...

WOW! You are so talented and make everything so beautiful it makes me want to cry.

MAKE-LIVING said...

Great idea!

Emily Good said...

very impressive illustrations! and a very cute little closet :)

Emily Good said...

very impressive illustrations! and a very cute little closet :)

Carmen said...

My laundry closet looks almost exactly like your before picture - this might just be the inspiration I need to make it a little more bearable.

The little things make such a huge difference!

Lindsey Herod said...

I just love that you take the time to make every little spot in your home interesting. It really is inspiring! XOXO, L

Shavonda said...

What a nice transformation. Here in California recycling is a huge deal. In our home we recycle and compost. Although our garbage runs every Monday we a usually only have to have refuse picked up once every 2-3 weeks because most of our waste is either recycled or composted to be used in my garden. It feels good to know that we are doing even a small part to give back environmentally.

Danielle said...

You are seriously so creative for 1. painting the inside of your closet STRIPES! and 2. the adorable way you labeled your recycling. Two great ideas!

Julie said...

now that is a transformation! very nice!

Holly said...

So cute! We are lucky and don't have to sort. I just kind of take a stack of paper and plastic out every so often, because I keep forgetting to buy an extra trash can for recyclables.

When we moved into our house, everything was painted cream. I have slowly changed it, but a few of our interior doors and some of the trim in the basement is still cream. It looks filthy and depressing.

Monika said...

What a great idea! Great way to teach kids about caring about environment and have fun in the same time!!

Amy said...

Great closet. Is anyone else bothered by the fact that you can get snitched on for not recycling? Sounds kind of Orwelian...

PMM said...

what an awesome post. I love your idea of painting the bins and drawing pics on them---very clever!!

sumslay said...

We don't have to sort in Dallas, and it's the main reason I'm so good at recycling. :) I have this http://www.containerstore.com/shop/trashRecycling/kitchen?productId=10022574&N=70622&Nao=40 but use the big side for recycling and the small side for trash. I recycle more than I make trash!

Natty by Design said...

We installed one of these…
http://ahturf.com/store/index.php?route=product/product&path=257_259_13115&product_id=52084

works like a dream and no trash can in sight.

Emily | Recently said...

Jenny, you are phenomenal! This wins best sponsored post of the century. For real. You rock.

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