This Affordable Hamper Is a Tidier Way to Wrangle the Recycling

An off-label use of a lightweight clothes hamper lets you love the planet without unsightly bins, overflowing bags, or extra trips to the curb. 
By Nichole Aksamit
September 09, 2020
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Where I live, we don’t have to sort recyclables. But we do need a way to corral them and get them to the big outdoor bin on collection day. Paper grocery bags are ideal, since they also are recyclable. Though we try to reuse and repurpose packaging and containers at our house, we still fill two or more bags of recycling every collection cycle. 

As much as I care about the planet, I hate looking at those bags of newspapers, egg cartons, rinsed-out wine bottles, bean cans, and milk jugs. Unfortunately, most lidded trash cans don’t accommodate one paper bag liner, let alone two. And stuffing recyclables into a plastic bag kind of defeats the purpose. 

My latest solution: this $19 hamper I found on Amazon. It’s juuust wide enough and deep enough to contain two paper bags, and it has a magnetic foldover lid that keeps the contents out of view and keeps our cats from nosing around in the recycling. It’s a little taller than the bags, but that’s nice when you have folded cardboard boxes (hellooo, Amazon Prime!) that are a bit taller, too. 

Amazon

Buy it: Simple Houseware Foldable Laundry Hamper Basket, $19; amazon.com

This simple fabric hamper comes in several colors and is unobtrusive enough to keep near the trash can at the end of our kitchen island. We are conscientious about rinsing our recyclables, which (along with the paper bag liners) keeps the hamper clean and odor-free. When the bags are full, they’re easy to lift out and carry to the curbside bins. 

The hamper is also easy for house guests to distinguish from the regular trash can. In the past when we’d tried using a second trash can for recycling, trash invariably ended up in the recycling. But people tend to think twice about throwing actual garbage into a fabric hamper.

And, perhaps because it is so conveniently positioned, I find that we are recycling more. The hamper helps us keep the recyclables out of sight—while keeping the opportunity to recycle top of mind.