Kitchen recycling/composting organization?

Jabberwonky

Power Conserver
Joined
Aug 4, 2023
Messages
18
Reaction score
38
Points
30
I have been increasing the amount of recycling our family does, because I realized that a lot of our food packaging and mailing packaging can be returned to the store for recycling. (We are not able to utilize bulk/bring-your-own-container stores to reduce packaging, due to allergies, and also our rural location, so we have a lot more trash than I would prefer, but we're still doing our best to reduce it.) I currently have several sections for various trash:

1. a vermicompost system that can only fit a few specific things occasionally
2. an additional compost bin where everything else goes (in winter I just use the garbage disposal)
3. I dry and save eggshells separately for worm food
4. a bin for recyclable cans and bottles
5. another bin for cans/bottles with a deposit (we don't have a lot, but we have some)
6. a bin for returnable plastic bags
7. another bin for non-returnable plastic bags.
8. a bin for cardboard
9. a wire tray for scrap paper to reuse or shred for compost

I am focusing on trying to make it as easy as possible to help my family cooperate with the various containers that help reduce our overall trash. We have a very small kitchen, so it feels like the recycling/composting system is taking over the entire kitchen.

My current system for plastic bags is to wash them and then clip them to the cupboard handles to allow them to dry overnight. That way, I don't take up space on the counter with a drying rack. A lot of our bins and buckets are hanging on hooks on a wall, so that helps somewhat.

I am just wondering if anyone else has a similar situation, or tips & tricks for how you organize these types of systems to utilize space well and keep everything as simple as possible.
 
Last edited:

CrealCritter

Sustainability Master
Joined
Jul 16, 2017
Messages
10,905
Reaction score
20,827
Points
377
Location
Zone 6B or 7 can't decide
I have been increasing the amount of recycling our family does, because I realized that a lot of our food packaging and mailing packaging can be returned to the store for recycling. (We are not able to utilize bulk/bring-your-own-container stores to reduce packaging, due to allergies, and also our rural location, so we have a lot more trash than I would prefer, but we're still doing our best to reduce it.) I currently have several sections for various trash:

1. a vermicompost system that can only fit a few specific things occasionally
2. an additional compost bin where everything else goes (in winter I just use the garbage disposal)
3. I dry and save eggshells separately for worm food
4. a bin for recyclable cans and bottles
5. another bin for cans/bottles with a deposit (we don't have a lot, but we have some)
6. a bin for returnable plastic bags
7. another bin for non-returnable plastic bags.
8. a bin for cardboard
9. a wire tray for scrap paper to reuse or shred for compost

I am focusing on trying to make it as easy as possible to help my family cooperate with the various containers that help reduce our overall trash. We have a very small kitchen, so it feels like the recycling/composting system is taking over the entire kitchen.

My current system for plastic bags is to wash them and then clip them to the cupboard handles to allow them to dry overnight. That way, I don't take up space on the counter with a drying rack. A lot of our bins and buckets are hanging on hooks on a wall, so that helps somewhat.

I am just wondering if anyone else has a similar situation, or tips & tricks for how you organize these types of systems to utilize space well and keep everything as simple as possible.
We save a lot of glass and screw on caps, because it's the ideal thing for food storage, fermenting, condiments and beverages.

The glass maple syrup containers from azure standard work great for homemade condiments like ketchup, bbq sauce and the like. 1/2 gallon pickle jars work well for fermenting small batches, dry storage for lentils and homemade breakfast cereal storage.

Dukes brand mayonnaise yellow plastic screw lids fit regular mouth mason jars. They are handy to cap a canning jar for sticking in the refrigerator after opening a jar of homemade canned goodness.

We also save food grade containers and lids. I used azure standard raccoon peanut butter 9 lb tub to ferment my first test batch of kombucha.

1 gallon milk and water jugs cleaned out for emergency water storage. We had to use them 3 times this year when we were under boil order. Glad my wife took the initiative to make sure we have 20 gallons of water handy at all times. Because you need water to live.

Empty coffee cans are great for carrying feed to animals and for collecting eggs and for storing screws, nails, bolts, etc...

IDK the kitchen is not really my domain. But one can get creative, my wife sure has. There's tremendous opportunity for reuse of many items. Every little bit adds up to something and is usually better than having to purchase. It's time and fuel to drive to town, shop and drive back home. Time and money that could be better spent I reckon.

Welcome to SS 👍

Jesus is Lord and Christ 🙏❤️🇺🇸
 
Last edited:

Jabberwonky

Power Conserver
Joined
Aug 4, 2023
Messages
18
Reaction score
38
Points
30
We save a lot of glass and screw on caps, because it's the ideal thing for food storage, fermenting, condiments and beverages.

The glass maple syrup containers from azure standard work great for homemade condiments like ketchup, bbq sauce and the like. 1/2 gallon pickle jars work well for fermenting small batches, dry storage for lentils and homemade breakfast cereal storage.

Dukes brand mayonnaise yellow plastic screw lids fit wide mouth mason jars. They are handy to cap a canning jar for sticking in the refrigerator after opening a jar of homemade canned goodness.

We also save food grade containers and lids. I used azure standard raccoon peanut butter 9 lb tub to ferment my first test batch of kombucha.

1 gallon milk and water jugs cleaned out for emergency water storage. We had to use them 3 times this year when we were under boil order. Glad my wife took the initiative to make sure we have 20 gallons of water handy at all times. Because you need water to live.

Empty coffee cans are great for carrying feed to animals and for collecting eggs and for storing screws, nails, bolts, etc...

IDK the kitchen is not really my domain. But one can get creative, my wife sure has. There's tremendous opportunity for reuse of many items. Every little bit adds up to something and is usually better than having to purchase. It's time and fuel to drive to town, shop and drive back home. Time and money that could be better spent I reckon.

Welcome to SS 👍

Jesus is Lord and Christ 🙏❤️🇺🇸
Thank you for your reply and welcome. It sounds like you definitely know how to make the most out of your reused items! I am curious how your wife plans emergency water storage. I have heard that it won't store permanently and has to be used regularly. I usually just keep a sealed gallon or two of distilled water on hand because we need it for other uses anyway. It's probably a good idea to have more than that on hand. I always thought it would be nice to have a homestead near a spring! I also wish that we lived somewhere close to a Byrne dairy, where we could use their glass system of milk containers (if they still have that system?) But alas, we are too far away.
 

flowerbug

Super Self-Sufficient
Joined
Oct 24, 2019
Messages
6,445
Reaction score
12,359
Points
297
Location
mid-Michigan, USoA
since we have forced air heating and AC i will cut up the bigger chunks of vegetables and dry them on trays so i can then store them dry until they get used. i don't feed the worm buckets every day or even every week, but normally i check them once or twice a month depending upon how busy i am and also when melon season starts, because during melon season i like to get the melon rinds in the worm buckets the same day or the next day after i've cut them up. worms love melon rinds. sometimes i have too many so i have to bury what is left in the gardens. the worms out there love 'em too. :)

all other food scraps i also try to get into the worm buckets, but a few things i don't put in them, a little bit of bones with some fat and gristle will be ok, because i use some dirt along with the organic materials so it covers them up. i don't smell anything unless i'm right there working in a bucket to bury stuff. dry bean rejects, pods from harvest shelling time, pretty much all organic material i can scrounge will go into the worm buckets (i keep 10 of them now, in the past i got up to where i was keeping 17 of them but that was taking up way too much space in my small room here so after Mom got away from cooking for other people i downsized a bit). all paper scraps are shredded and used except for anything with a shiny plastic coating. also any mail envelopes i will cut out the plastic windows and then use the rest to shred and then that goes to the worm buckets eventually. of course i'm happy if i don't get as much to cut or shred and some things go into the recycling bins for the trash haulers to take away.

when it comes down to food scraps, i figure that we're paying prime $ to buy the fresh veggies and food so i do not ever want to waste any of it or to throw it away. some things i bury in the gardens (chicken carcasses, or other big things i can't get through the worm farm buckets), spoiled food is rare here (i really hate wasting food - it's a pet peeve of mine so we rarely have anything that spoils before it gets eaten). whatever i can dry of veggie scraps is helpful for worm digesting because after they are dried and then rehydrated in the worm bins the worms will eat through them rather quickly in comparison to those that are not dried out. and i a few cases it's much better to dry them so they will not regrow (potatoes).

here's a few links to my website for further pondering, they both could use a few updates but they pretty much repeat a lot of what i've written above and elsewheres. :)


as to the rest of your topic, we do reuse some plastic bags (especially the gallon ziplock freezer bags we use quite frequently). glass jars go into recycling for the trash haulers along with most of the plastic containers as i do not need any more odd sized containers and lids to keep track of. the one gallon glass jars we get for saurkraut i will keep and use for storing dry beans. they are the exception. the plastic containers i keep are the one quart yogurt ones because they all stack together. i probably have about a hundred of those. they're very handy with clear lids so i can see the contents without having to open the container. everything else is put out for the trash hauler recycling pick up. i don't have room to keep everything i'd like.
 

Jabberwonky

Power Conserver
Joined
Aug 4, 2023
Messages
18
Reaction score
38
Points
30
since we have forced air heating and AC i will cut up the bigger chunks of vegetables and dry them on trays so i can then store them dry until they get used. i don't feed the worm buckets every day or even every week, but normally i check them once or twice a month depending upon how busy i am and also when melon season starts, because during melon season i like to get the melon rinds in the worm buckets the same day or the next day after i've cut them up. worms love melon rinds. sometimes i have too many so i have to bury what is left in the gardens. the worms out there love 'em too. :)

all other food scraps i also try to get into the worm buckets, but a few things i don't put in them, a little bit of bones with some fat and gristle will be ok, because i use some dirt along with the organic materials so it covers them up. i don't smell anything unless i'm right there working in a bucket to bury stuff. dry bean rejects, pods from harvest shelling time, pretty much all organic material i can scrounge will go into the worm buckets (i keep 10 of them now, in the past i got up to where i was keeping 17 of them but that was taking up way too much space in my small room here so after Mom got away from cooking for other people i downsized a bit). all paper scraps are shredded and used except for anything with a shiny plastic coating. also any mail envelopes i will cut out the plastic windows and then use the rest to shred and then that goes to the worm buckets eventually. of course i'm happy if i don't get as much to cut or shred and some things go into the recycling bins for the trash haulers to take away.

when it comes down to food scraps, i figure that we're paying prime $ to buy the fresh veggies and food so i do not ever want to waste any of it or to throw it away. some things i bury in the gardens (chicken carcasses, or other big things i can't get through the worm farm buckets), spoiled food is rare here (i really hate wasting food - it's a pet peeve of mine so we rarely have anything that spoils before it gets eaten). whatever i can dry of veggie scraps is helpful for worm digesting because after they are dried and then rehydrated in the worm bins the worms will eat through them rather quickly in comparison to those that are not dried out. and i a few cases it's much better to dry them so they will not regrow (potatoes).

here's a few links to my website for further pondering, they both could use a few updates but they pretty much repeat a lot of what i've written above and elsewheres. :)


as to the rest of your topic, we do reuse some plastic bags (especially the gallon ziplock freezer bags we use quite frequently). glass jars go into recycling for the trash haulers along with most of the plastic containers as i do not need any more odd sized containers and lids to keep track of. the one gallon glass jars we get for saurkraut i will keep and use for storing dry beans. they are the exception. the plastic containers i keep are the one quart yogurt ones because they all stack together. i probably have about a hundred of those. they're very handy with clear lids so i can see the contents without having to open the container. everything else is put out for the trash hauler recycling pick up. i don't have room to keep everything i'd like.
Wow, you have a very large vermicompost system! I would love to have a bigger system, but I don't have the space for it. I have contemplated getting rid of my little kitchen setup several times, because it doesn't handle much for food scraps and is a lot of work... but then I think about the nice potting soil it creates, without me having to buy it or use the plastic that comes with storebought soil, and I end up plugging away with the small vermicompost system anyway. :) I have also noticed that my worms love melon. I normally feed them bell peppers, tomatoes, melon, and apples, and occasionally a few other things.
 

tortoise

Wild Hare
Joined
Nov 8, 2009
Messages
8,551
Reaction score
15,610
Points
397
Location
USDA Zone 3b/4a
@Jabberwonky sounds like you have a good handle on this already. Maybe consider storing recycling/etc out of your kitchen, and dropping off at a collection site more often? My recycling bins are in the primary bedroom bc my kitchen is too small and my bedroom is too big! I keep bags in my basement staircase - a bag holder overhead and reusable bags hung on the handrail.

I cook eggshells in the microwave right away and grind them right away. I store them in a quart jar in my cupboard.
 
Last edited:

flowerbug

Super Self-Sufficient
Joined
Oct 24, 2019
Messages
6,445
Reaction score
12,359
Points
297
Location
mid-Michigan, USoA
...I keep bags in my basement staircase - a bag holder overhead and reusable bags hung on the handrail.

this reminded me that we have a decorative bag holder on the back of the door which is basically a lady/doll with a big dress which we stuff the bags into. our nice neighbor lady made it for us for $8 about 20 years ago. we miss her all the time she was a great person.


and since i have a sense of humor and like to laugh about anything i can possibly imagine i don't often get a reason to say "Up yours lady!" but when i'm putting bags in her dress i get to...
 

Jabberwonky

Power Conserver
Joined
Aug 4, 2023
Messages
18
Reaction score
38
Points
30
@Jabberwonky sounds like you have a good handle on this already. Maybe consider storing recycling/etc out of your kitchen, and dropping off at a collection site more often? My recycling bins are in the primary bedroom bc my kitchen is too small and my bedroom is too big! I keep bags in my basement staircase - a bag holder overhead and reusable bags hung on the handrail.

I cook eggshells in the microwave right away and grind them right away. I store them in a quart jar in my cupboard.

I have never heard of cooking eggshells in the microwave, but if that works, it sounds like a fantastic idea to keep the mess off the countertops. I might have to try that. We also have a basement handrail just off the kitchen, and I hadn't thought of utilizing it, but I'm going to look into it. Thank for the great suggestions.
 

flowerbug

Super Self-Sufficient
Joined
Oct 24, 2019
Messages
6,445
Reaction score
12,359
Points
297
Location
mid-Michigan, USoA
My eggshells get crumbled and fed back to chickens...recycling at its best. 🤣 Reusable containers.

i dry them out and then right before i feed the worm buckets i crush them some and add them with whatever food scraps i have to go in. eventually they end up back in the gardens as fertilizer.
 
Top