Guest column: See the sign and recycle more

Label your recycling, organics, and trash bins to increase recycling and decrease what goes in the landfill.

By Alisa Reckinger – Guest Columnist

You can help make recycling at home and special events easier with signs. Recycling, organics recycling and trash signs or labels help family members or guests know your expectations, and help ensure waste ends up where it belongs.

“Excuse me, do you recycle?”

We have all been there before. You are at a party. You finish your soda and snacks and you scan the room for where to drop your paper plate and plastic cup. You see a trash can and make your move. When you get there you realize that there are several bins to choose from. Which one is the recycling? You try to decipher by what is already in the bins, but you just cannot crack the code.

Signs and labels help direct

Something as simple as putting a recycling and trash label on your collection bins can be a huge step in preventing recyclables from ending up in the landfill.

Avoid confusion by using free, downloadable signs from the Recycling Association of Minnesota. Labeling your bins lets guests know that you are serious about recycling and allows them to participate with ease without you having to worry about policing your guests. For some guests who don’t care where bottles go, signs or labels can help them see just how effortless it is to set up a recycling system in their own home.

Waste stations at home

Reflect your recycling values with colorful signs and simple sorting. Just taking a few minutes to set up a waste station is an important part of keeping your recycling efforts going.

A “waste station” is a fancy term for a simple concept: bins clearly labeled for trash, recyclables, and organics arranged side by side. Recycling bins should look different than trash cans, and labels should be large, clear and specific. Place your waste station where recycling and trash are generated, such as where the mail is opened, where the kids are cleaning out school folders and where cans, bottles and jugs are tossed.

When you are planning a get together at home, it’s important to help guide your guests to recycle without thinking too much. When you plan for where to put the snacks and beverages, you can also plan to create a clearly marked waste station.

Staying Green at special events

Do you have an event coming up? The same waste station planning and labelling applies. has resources for any size event, from birthdays, to bridal showers, to outdoor events to help you keep your event green. Have a larger event planned? Local governments have rules, guidelines and resources. For example, many counties provide recycling bins for larger events for free. They can also help with items that you may have collected that are unable to be picked up at curbside.

Minnesotans recycle over 2.3 million tons of paper, glass, metals, plastics, yard waste and more each year, which creates new products such as cans, cardboard, newspaper, carpet, clothing, furniture and much more., provided by the Solid Waste Management Coordinating Board, is your go-to guide for waste and recycling in the Twin Cities.

Rethink Recycling

About The Solid Waste Management Coordinating Board launched its first education outreach campaign in 2003 to help citizens living in Anoka, Carver, Dakota, Hennepin, Ramsey and Washington understand the urgent need to make environmentally responsible purchasing and disposal decisions in their daily lives. The board is proud to sponsor its current campaign,