How I recycle in my tiny apartment

by Cath

Ever since I was little, I wanted to recycle. I remember asking my mom to do it in our house: why don’t we recycle? And she would say that the recycling bins were too far away, we had to go by car, I don’t want to do that. And since I didn’t have my drivers license I couldn’t do it myself, it was really far from home to go by foot. Obviously with a little willpower, every weekend I could walk there, I had the time, but laziness won.

When I started living in Porto, I came to a different issue: “my house is so small that I don’t even know where I could keep the different types of garbage” and that reason was responsible for not recycling in my new house for a whole year.

Eventually I decided to cut out the excuses because I knew, deep down, that I could recycle, I didn’t have such a huge motive, like having to use the car to take the recycling, it was just outside the apartment building. Recycling needed to happen! So I made it work.

My first solution was to buy a garbage can and divide it with some cardboard in three equal parts.

This solution lasted about three months, it had two huge problems:

  • The glass section was empty – I save a lot of jars to use on something else and we don’t drink alcohol often, which means we rarely recycle glass
  • The plastic section was always full – Even though we are reducing our plastic consumption, lots of plastic it’s still used and the plastic section would quickly fill up.

recycling mini station

When I saw a laundry detergent box at my parents, I immediately envisioned the perfect solution for our needs.

  • Plastic – The recycling bin it’s reserved for plastic only, as I said above, we’re reducing but not enough to don’t have a bin especially for it. I’m currently using weaker plastic bags that were still laying around my house but whenever I use stronger ones, after I take out the recycling, I wash the plastic bag and use it again after it’s dried.
  • Paper – We’ve been using the same laundry detergent box forever since in Portugal it’s forbidden to recycle paper that has any oil or dirt on it, so far it’s holding up. The box goes to the recycling with me and I just throw its contents and take it back with me
  • Glass – There’s no specific place for it in the house. Since we don’t need to recycle it often, when we do need it, we just put it on top of the kitchen table and when we leave the house, take it with us. Not too troubling and saves space in our home.
  • Cooking Oil – it doesn’t take too much space but I’ll just write my process, might be helpful: I have two jars: one with used cooking oil that can be used again and another one with oil that cannot be reused, I’ll fill up the jar and once it’s full take it to the nearest Óleão.

This is the best solution for our lifestyle. I know some people who go everyday to take the trash to the recycling so they don’t need to have designated bins for it, but it’s not doable for us. What about you? How do you recycle at home? If you don’t recycle, I hope that this post inspires you to start, even with a small apartment!

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