Trash & Recycling Containers Re-work: Before & After Project

Under the sink - new location for trash & recycling storageI don’t know what’s harder. Juggling the overflow of toxic chemicals and garbage that spill from beneath my sink when I open the cupboards or wrestling with the unstable bag of recycling tacked to the wall above the steps of my basement. Trash & recycling containers have not been winners in my past.

Both areas make me feel like I’m just 20 cats away from being on an episode of “Hoarders.” In fact, scenes of that show flash before my eyes when I look beneath my sink. Then, I black out.  What I am trying to say is, that throwing things away in my house is dangerous.

I’m not exaggerating. Look at that before picture. Now judge me.

But before you reach for your bottle of Xanax, know that it’s all over.

With two new trash & recycling containers, I got my life and my dignity back. Well some of my dignity. These pictures of the “Before” are still on the internet, aren’t they?

I used the Wall Mount Canvas Basket Storage Rack by Winsome Wood and the Under Cabinet Pull Out Recycler from simplehuman®.

You see the problem with my sink/basement stairs area was they are both small spaces that just by virtue of who they are accumulate a lot of clutter. And my 90-year-old home, while it has charming woodwork, does not actually have storage.  This is because, as Wikipedia tells me, 90 years ago no one had shoes and their husbands didn’t have to take wads of receipts, loose change and lint out of their pockets everyday and dump them on the counter.

Also, no one recycled back then. So, no need for a space to collect recycling. Cheaters.

All of this activity (shoes, coats, keys, pocket lint, recycling, trash and cleaning products) all located in such a small area. My house was a Midwestern Mount Vesuvius, ready to blow at any moment and sent villagers running for cover. I believe in seeing where you live your life and where your clutter collects, before attempting to corral it.  I’ve discovered that artificially imposing an organizational system only leads to revolts from the natives. You have to work with the clutter. And after six years of living in this house, the clutter said, “I’m homesteading by your back door.”

So, I essentially needed two things: a place to collect backdoor clutter and a better system of trash & recycling containers.

And I know you can’t tell, but I’ve tried a lot of different things. Most trash cans don’t fit in my kitchen or under my sink. And the back basement stair area is narrow with no room for big shelves or a storage bench.

But, the Under Cabinet Pull Out Recycler from simplehuman® actually fit. My husband and I wept a little when we saw how lovely it looked and how well it worked.  And since it has space for recycling and trash, we could take the recycling bag off it’ ghetto wall hook and add some storage there to collect the messy acquisitions of our daily lives. Enter the Wall Mount Canvas Basket Storage Rack by Winsome Wood. You can hang it horizontally or vertically to maximize the space and the baskets are versatile enough that they can hold keys, sunglasses, pocket link and even sports equipment.

The new hallway drop zone:

Stiarway before and after

The new trash & recycling containers under the sink:

Under the sink - before and after

I’m even ordering vinyl lettering so I can put our names above our respective baskets.  Finally, now I can let my mother-in-law know where we keep our trash, without cowering in shame as she opened the cabinet door. Success!

Are you shamed by your current trash or recycling strategy?  Spill!  The SpaceSavers gurus might be able to help you out too.

Lyz Lenz is a writer and moderately successful organizer. In addition to living in a 90-year-old home, she also lives online at
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