You can print out these free bin labels at home to make sorting and separating your rubbish so much easier (and reduce your landfill). These will help household members and visitors to put things in the right bin, saving you the headache of sorting out misplaced items later.
These printable labels can be attached to your bin or storage boxes and are easily identifiable, listing appropriate items to add.
I've put these into a simple printable file in the member's area, so if you haven't yet subscribed yet, head here for free access.
Does 10 labels seem excessive?
Sounds a little crazy, right, why would a low waste household need so many bins! I was pretty surprised we needed so many and depending on your household you may need more or less.
These work for segregating most recyclables and waste items, and if you need to separate these out further then go for it.
This guide to recycling has some useful links and ideas for things that can be recycled and how you can find collection or drop off points in your area. You can note these down on your labels so everyone knows.
The Big Five Bin Labels You Need
These are what I consider to be the staples of bin management for most households. Although we try to minimise our plastic, I actually plan to laminate some of these as they tend to get the dirtiest and I prefer to wipe them down rather than replace.
1. Kerbside Recycling
This is probably our biggest bin at the moment, and without labels, it regularly has food and soft plastics dumped in it, which is really annoying to sort through.
Kerbside recycling is one of the easiest and most convenient way to divert items from landfill and it's surprising how many people get confused with what should go in it. You can check your local council website for more information on all the items that can be recycled.
2. Green Organics Bin
This is for commercially compostable items such as your kerbside green organics bin. This includes food and waste that cannot be composted at home. Not all households have access to this, but if you do it really is a fantastic way to ensure food waste doesn't became a bigger environments issue.
3. Home Compost
Not everyone is able to compost at home, and this label can be used in addition to your green organics. Home compost generally includes less processed foods and is often dairy and meat free.
There is a little extra room to add a few more items to your list if you feel it useful. If you don't know what dust bunnies are...they are those weird balls of dust/fluff that you might find under your bed or around your house.
For this bin (or jar...if you're doing the jar thing), I found it more useful to say what shouldn't go in as hopefully, almost nothing will end up here. It's helpful to apply a rule that it is only for anything that cannot go in any of your other categories and I have left space for you to add one or two more items that your home sends to landfill.
If you are at the stage where you have no need for a landfill bin, then skip it all together.
Everyone should have a box or bag dedicated to donatable items.
This includes books, toys, clothing and all sorts of things that are clean and usable. This could be donated to a community group, charity or op-shop, or just given away to friends and family.
Separating these items also stops them heading to landfill. Just write your drop off point on the label so everyone knows where it is headed to and maybe even drop it off themselves.
The Extra 5 Bin Labels
Now we've covered the big 5, here are the others you really need to improve and manage your recycling efforts.
You can potentially earn a little bit of cash with this one and its a fabulous incentive for kids wanting pocket money (it can even motivate kids to pick up items on walks or in the park too). Simply collect anything with the refundable label, make sure all the liquid is emptied and designated a tub or box. This could be adapted to suit your refillables to.
7. Soft Plastics
These evil things really need their own space and they tend to escape and haunt the kitchen, so make sure you have a closed container or bin. Rather than list everything possible, it has some key guidelines that are important in not contaminating the process. Look up and note your nearest or most convenient drop off point.
It's amazing how much e-waste still heads to landfill. Be prepared by having an area or box for any electrical items that are broken or damaged beyond repair. This may only need dropping off once a year depending on your lifestyle. These items can be recycled and turned into something useful, but always remove personal data first.
This one requires a little research first through the Teracycle website. Find out what is available near you to understand your options and locate any relevant collection bins. This can include coffee pods too and other hard to recycle items, so simply add what is relevant to the label and remove the rest.
10. Miscellaneous Recyclables
Last, but not least, this bin label is pretty important and includes some common items often sent to landfill in many households. As these occur irregularly, having a dedicated place for them can stop even the laziest person from just putting a single battery into landfill (cos it's only one little battery, right?).
I find it simpler to store all of these items together and use an empty tissue box as my bin, but if you prefer, you can have separate boxes. All of these items cause havoc in landfill and are not too hard to redirect. For example, our local IKEA takes batteries and globes, our post office accepts ink cartridges and our library has a mobile muster bin. If I'm heading to any of these places on errands, I try to take our collection with me and probably only do a drop off every 6-8 months, mostly because I'm worried the batteries may leak if they sit there too long.
How many of these labels are essential in your house? Did I miss anything?
I'd love to hear back on how these worked at your place, or if you have a different way to stop all those misdirected items. Let me know below.
Don't forget, head here for some useful links in locating drop off points and hit the subscribe below for regular updates as well as access to printables and other resources.
Some other useful ideas for waste reduction that may help your low waste journey: Doing a Bin Audit, Reducing Food Waste, and How to Stop Junk Mail.