The Eco Flatsharer’s Guide to Recycling

We all know recycling is important. We now recycle nearly a quarter of our waste, and Councils around the country are doing their bit, in some cases a little over vigorously, providing us with bins and bags and regular collections, as well as local recycling centres.

It’s easy for a family, or professional couple to sort and reduce their waste. But for those of us in shared accommodation, it’s a slightly different story.

You may be living with people you don’t know very well, keeping different hours. You might not have the space to store much recycling between collections. And you might not be able to face dealing with it on your own, if your flatmates are not very motivated.

Here are some tips for taking the strain out of recycling if you are living in shared accommodation – let me know how you get on with them or if you have any more you’d like to share in the comments!

Get everyone on board: although we are getting better at recycling, it’s good to have some handy statistics to persuade doubting flatmates. Did you know that recycling just one tin saves enough energy to power a TV for 3 hours? Or that recycling paper uses 70% less energy than making it from raw materials? Or that 60% of what we throw away could be recycled? Check out for more facts and tips on recycling.

Divide and conquer: ask your flatmates to take responsibility for just one or two types of waste. This helps to spread the load and make recycling easier to do more frequently. Perhaps the flatmate that’s a bit of a wine buff could be in charge of glass. Or the flatmate that starts every day with a newspaper could take charge of paper and card. Recycling one or two materials is a lot less daunting than coping with eight or nine.

Make it easy on yourself: a recycling bin that looks good and fits in with your style is more likely to be used and be a positive endorsement for an eco way of life than lots of overflowing bags. I love Ben the Bin home recycling bins, they offer a smart solution to recycling sorting and storage. Or if you are pushed for space, a set of stacking home recycling bins gives you vertical storage for your recyclables.

The rest of the story: another way to make recycling easier is not to make so much waste in the first place. Reduce and Reuse are the first two elements of the waste disposal triangle, and even more crucial than recycling. See if your household can reduce waste by sharing food shopping; you’ll cut down on food and packaging waste, and save money. Check out for loads of great suggestions for recycling and reusing unusual items. Look at your rubbish and see if there is any particular thing you throw away a lot, and try and come up with an reusable alternative.

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