5 Savvy Ways To Disguise Your Recycling Bin

With climate change becoming increasingly concerning, more and more people are focusing on recycling as much of their waste as possible to reduce the amount of trash in landfills, which are significant sources of greenhouse gas emissions, according to the United States Environmental Protection Agency. Not to mention, landfills are giant eyesores. And speaking of ugly scenes, you may struggle to figure out how to incorporate your recycling bin (usually a bright, eye-catching shade of blue) into your home décor scheme. Sure, saving the planet by recycling is great, but you probably don't want a vibrant blue bin of beer cans and discarded mail envelopes in the middle of your kitchen.

So how do you keep your recycling bin accessible but not necessarily visible? There are several tips and tricks you can employ to ensure your recycling bin remains close enough for regular use as you do your part in chipping away at climate change while also ensuring that the container does not become the focal point of your kitchen or yard.

1. Use a laundry hamper

Standard-issue recycling bins are not aesthetically pleasing; to be honest, many waste bins you can buy in stores aren't that much better. A piece of cheap plastic in your kitchen will throw off whatever décor vibe you were going for. Luckily for you, home supplies manufacturers concluded that one crucial home organization tool needed to be aesthetically pleasing — and that tool could successfully double as a recycling bin. It's a laundry hamper! Epicurious reports that many laundry hampers are sleek and stylish, with attractive ribbed wooden exteriors and other chic design details, a far cry from the rough plastic edges of most recycling bins. 

Some laundry hampers are designed with multiple compartments to sort your laundry into whites, colors, and darks. It's a snap to turn those compartments into bins for trash, recycling, and even a section for glass, if your city, like many locales, does not include glass in its mainstream recycling. Many laundry hampers come with cloth liners, which are not ideal for trash and recycling storage, as sometimes residual liquids can seep through and cause stains and smells. So, if you choose a laundry hamper, you may need to do some quick DIY work with a super glue gun to add hooks to the sides of your hamper for you to hang trash bags from.

2. Find a pull-out drawer solution

Maybe you live in an apartment or a studio without a ton of kitchen space. In this situation, choosing to upcycle a bulky laundry bin into a recycling container might not be an option since you can't afford to add any real estate into an already-crammed kitchen. If space is your limiting factor, you may consider putting your recycling under your counter or in a kitchen cabinet to get it out of the way, freeing up some room and eliminating a potential kitchen eyesore. But it can be a hassle to reach underneath your counter to dump recycling or trash, and the cumbersome angles might make a bit of a mess.

Adding a pull-out drawer to the cabinet or under-counter area is a simple solution. You can pull your recycling bin out when it's time to dispose of that empty plastic bottle, then slide it back in, out of sight and not taking up precious space on your kitchen floor. Practically Functional provides a breakdown of installing a pull-out slider system within your cabinet space so you can tuck your recycling bin away to be ready when you need it. You can either install the system within the cabinet so that you open the cabinet and then pull a lever to slide the can out, or you can integrate your cabinet door to pull out the door and the can together.

3. Turn a side table into a tilt-out can

Let's say you're a person who cares a lot about the environment and does a lot of entertaining. It would probably be pretty beneficial for you to have a recycling container in the main entertaining space in your home. And for many homes, that's not always in the kitchen area. But if a bright blue recycling bin looks a little off in a kitchen, it will stand out like a sore thumb even more in an intentionally designed dining or living room space. So how do you embed it within your home décor scheme to blend in, but it's still easily accessible to your guests to recycle their empty drink cans?

One method is transforming a small side table into a chic recycling bin container. You can work with that option if you already have a side table or stand. This project is also a great way to upcycle old building materials, such as cabinets you may have left over from your latest kitchen renovation. A Butterfly House explains the process of making a tilt-out can, which is a bin attached to the front panel of your side table so that the opening is visible when you tip the panel open. Make sure you don't forget the interior stop mechanism so that your tilt-out panel doesn't open all the way, spilling your recycling out over the floor — not precisely a chic look.

4. Consider outdoor storage as well

If you live in a house, you probably also have your sizeable outdoor recycling bin for the weekly truck to pick up in addition to whatever mini recycling bins you may have inside your living space. If you don't have a garage or a side yard to tuck your recycling bin away into, it may be sitting out in your front yard for the whole world to fixate on its bright blue hue instead of the beautiful flower garden you worked so hard on. But don't worry; there are several options for conveniently concealing your outdoor recycling and trash bins from the public view.

The Garden Glove recommends going with a waste bin screen, a small fence-like structure that discreetly wraps around your recycling and trash can storage area to hide it from view, often in a way that looks like it's simply an extension of your fence. You can buy such pre-made screens, but it's usually a straightforward DIY project to make them yourself, saving you a good amount of money. Keeping your recycling and trash bins under a roof may be more desirable, which can be particularly helpful in snowy environments, so you don't have to shovel snow off the top to get your can opener. A Nest With A Yard recommends installing a small garden, or outdoor storage shed to keep your bins out of the elements. You could even repurpose an outdoor bin intended for kids' toys.

5. Use plants as the ultimate disguise

Since you are already battling climate change by prioritizing recycling, you may as well take the next step to go green and stock your home with house plants. In addition to improving your home's air quality and providing numerous health benefits, according to Piedmont Healthcare, houseplants can play an additional role in blocking off your recycling bin from view. Strategically placing taller, fuller house plants like bamboo palms, rubber trees, and ficus plants around your recycling bin can hide their neon blue hue while still allowing them to remain in an accessible space. If you are new to caring for house plants and want some that will increase to provide maximum blockage, Gardener Basics recommends fiddle-leaf figs and split-leaf philodendrons.

Plant cover can also work as a disguise for your outdoor recycling and trash bins. You can dress up a simple (and cheap) chain-link screen around your containers by cultivating an ivy plant in the area so that it snakes up and around the fence to hide your bins from view. Or, you can make the plants your fence by planting a hedge or even a tree on the shorter side but still fast-growing, such as juniper. In no time, you will have a beautiful and eco-friendly shield that will keep your recycling and trash bins out of sight while contributing to your yard's overall aesthetic.