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6 Ways to Give Your Waste System “The Home Edit” Treatment

We apply our “green” lens to the lessons we picked up on The Home Edit and provide organizational tips related to sustainable recycling & waste disposal.

Shelby Bell | October 6, 2020


One thing many of us can agree upon is the importance of organization—whether at home, at the workplace, or at school—as well as the struggle that often comes along with getting organized. A recent survey revealed that 54 percent of Americans are overwhelmed with clutter and don’t know what to do with it. Perhaps this is why a new Netflix show, The Home Edit, has everyone, from celebrities like Reese Witherspoon and Eva Longoria to regular people like you and me, fascinated by its ability to find a functional, yet aesthetically pleasing organizational system for any space.

Although, if you are one of the only people (like me!) who had never heard of the show until now, don’t worry! The Instagram-founded brand, which goes by the same name as the show, recently landed placement on Netflix, featuring the organizational experts and creators of The Home Edit (THE), Clea Shearer, and Joanna Teplin, who help everyone from A-list celebrities, to regular homeowners, organize their messiest spaces, like closets, kitchens, and garages, in each episode. If this concept sounds oddly familiar, it’s probably because of The KonMari Method, which took the world by storm in 2014. But, while Marie Condo’s method focuses on decluttering (and donating most items), The Home Edit’s strategy is about organizing with what is leftover.

At this point, you’re probably wondering, What these popular shows and tidying-up systems have to do with waste and recycling? So, without further ado, here’s the answer: In this blog post, we’ll apply our “green” lens to the lessons we picked up on The Home Edit and provide some helpful organizational tips related to sustainable recycling and waste disposal for the office and other shared spaces. Continue reading for more information and to learn how following these suggestions can result in increased recycling rates, more streamlined processes, and additional cost savings!

Get Organized With The Home Edit: Waste & Recycling Edition

The Home Edit is fundamentally changing the way people organize throughout the world. Together, founders Clea and Joanna have reinvented traditional organizing into a setup that’s sustainable, structured, and visually attractive. In each episode, the dynamic duo transforms cluttered closets, garages, and kitchens into systematic spaces, using collections of shelves and storage boxes, labeling, and coloring-coding methods. 

Still, you’re probably wondering, “What does this show have to do with waste and recycling stream management?” Believe it or not, there are several, critical organizational takeaways from this show that companies can easily apply to their waste and recycling programs to make them more impactful and successful. Below are six tips we’ve gathered from The Home Edit, and explain how executing them will help your business organize and effectively manage its waste and recycling system!

6 Ways to Better Organize Waste & Recyclables

Tip #1: Start in one place

In the show, Clea and Joanna begin their process by focusing on one zone of the home at a time. We suggest the same: Begin by analyzing one of your facility’s respective waste and recycling collection areas of your choosing (e.g. cafeteria, largest conference room, kitchen, etc.). If your business does not currently have a common place for waste and recycling, try creating one by removing deskside bins in exchange for easily-accessible, centralized collection point(s) to capture materials including cardboard, paper, compost, plastics, and cans, in their respective, designated bins. However, before you can begin organizing anything, it’s important to understand exactly the types of materials you’re working with in your building. If you don’t have this information handy, conducting a waste audit is necessary.

It may sound intimidating, but a waste audit is simply an analysis of your business’ waste stream. The purpose of this audit is to determine the types of materials and associated volumes generated so you can better understand and organize your waste and recycling. Typically completed over a week, your waste audit team will collect and store all of the waste and recycling materials your office tosses, helping to identify the most significant sources of waste. Once this data is obtained, the next step is to set up containers for each appropriate waste and recycling stream in high-traffic areas throughout your building. Pro tip: By completing a waste audit, most businesses come to realize that they are paying too much for waste removal and losing money on materials that could be recycled!

Additionally, being organized also means saving your business time where possible. One easy way to do this is by hiring a third-party service provider, like RoadRunner, to help your business conduct an efficient waste audit and develop a custom waste solution.


Tip #2: Know Your Recyclables

Many people report confusion when it comes to understanding which materials are recyclable or not. A recent survey showed over half of the respondents (53 percent) believed greasy pizza boxes could be recycled, while 68 percent incorrectly thought the same for used plastic utensils. Luckily, the findings from your waste audit can help your colleagues understand what materials to recycle and which to toss in the landfill (trash) bin. Here’s how: Once the audit team has a solid understanding of the types of recyclables your business generates, one of the most effective ways to build support for your programs is by making employee education and executive buy-in a top priority. While educational tactics may vary from business to business, scheduling recycling training sessions with each department will ensure your workers grasp how the program works and will likely increase overall participation. Adding signage, informational memos, and posters to your educational efforts can also serve as reminders to your organization. Furthermore, any business aiming to excel in its recycling program needs a group of individuals to take initiative, known as a “green team” or Eco-Ambassador program. These individuals can encourage employees to recycle efficiently by offering incentives, such as gift cards or free lunches, to those that manage their waste correctly.



Tip #3: Color-code your bins

The Home Edit is known for sorting everything, from jewelry to bookshelves, into color-coordinated compartments. One organizational tip we can adopt from The Home Edit is color-coding our recycling streams to help distinguish different types of waste and streamline the recycling process visually. Assigning a color to each waste stream type that you have a receptacle for helps to improve recycling by creating familiarity with the stream and further solidifying to your team which bin to use for recyclables, landfill waste, organic waste, and so on. This method is proven to increase buy-in to your program, thereby improving recycling rates and decreasing waste costs! RoadRunner usually associates the each waste and recycling bin with the following colors:

- Yellow: Mixed-Paper Products

- Orange: Cardboard Waste

- Blue: Commingled Recyclables

- Green: Compost / Organics

- Black: Landfill / MSW (Municipal Solid Waste)



Tip #4: Label your containers

One of the biggest keys to staying organized once you’ve decluttered is to label everything. Clea and Joanna are pros when it comes to labeling and believe it’s the secret to long-term maintenance. According to The Home Edit’s recent blog post, “...clearly and concretely identifying the contents that belong in a container gives you, your kids, your partner, your houseguests, and anyone else using the space straightforward directions for where items go.” In the show, the team labels every item they can to improve the organizational process, and we suggest the same should be done for each waste and recycling stream for the exact same reason. Marking the stream type (with stickers, corresponding posters, and additional educational resources) eliminates confusion, so your colleagues always place the appropriate materials into the correct containers, which not only improves organization but also decreases pesky contamination that can render your recyclables unusable. There is no mistaking the “cardboard recycling” bin for the “compost bin” when a label is involved! 

Labeling is important because, if the average person is unclear about which container their waste belongs in, they will typically toss it in whichever bin is closest to them. However, as previously mentioned, improper recycling causes contamination, which significantly reduces the value of recyclable materials, and most often deems them completely unrecyclable. That’s right, something as simple as tossing one aluminum can into the paper recycling container will contaminate an entire load of recyclable materials and force your waste hauler to send them all to landfill. Contamination can also result in additional fees by your waste hauler. That’s why, at RoadRunner, we always stress the importance of consistent, clear labels, to eliminate the guesswork and ensure that we provide any business using our services the labels and guidance they need to discard waste materials into the proper receptacles. If you’re feeling creative, use some of the items collected during the waste audit to make your own labels from materials like cardboard or computer paper. Or let us help create signage for you. Reach out for more information about customized recycling programs for your business.



Tip #5: Create (And Organize) An Upcycle Station

And, the part you’ve been waiting for: It’s time to take a page directly out of The Home Edit’s book. Chances are, some of the supplies or equipment that have been thrown away in your office may still be useful. Many businesses choose to designate an area in the workplace as an Upcycle Station to keep valuable materials from going to landfill. All you have to do is set aside a closet, tabletop, or a shelf or two, for collecting and storing supplies. Encourage your colleagues to add anythingfrom staplers, to file organizers, to coffee mugs and misprinted paper that may have blank spaces on the flip sideto the station when they are no longer in need of them. You can even use boxes, colored paper, and plastic bins you would have otherwise recycled to help organize your “upcycle station” with these materials!

The Home Edit always begins its organizing approach by creating groupings of each item, from notebooks and computer paper to office supplies and electronics. Next, the team recommends deciding which materials can go into bins or canisters to ensure each item has a place. After that, they assign a label to each category. This next part is entirely optional, but still a fan favorite. You can organize the items by the colors of the rainbow to make the closet look a little more visually appealing. And, voila, now you have an orderly and beautiful “upcycle station” on your hands!



Tip #6: Invest in the help you need

Clea and Joanna always emphasize the importance of investing in the help you need, which for most businesses, can mean creating partnerships with a third-party waste & recycling service provider like RoadRunner. RoadRunner’s customized and comprehensive programs ensure maximum savings and recycling rates are achieved—saving companies, on average, 20% on their monthly waste and recycling costs. To begin, schedule a free consultation with one of our waste and recycling representatives to learn what kind of materials you’re space is generating and how we can help!


We appreciate The Home Edit for its organizational concepts and strategies, which can be applied in more than one area of life, whether it’s a closet or a business’ waste and recycling station. In addition to helping to increase recycling rates, keeping waste and recycling operations orderly will save your business money by removing recyclable items from your waste stream and improving your processes to reduce contamination. We know Clea and Joanna would approve of the organizational systems that were put into place if you follow the above steps—especially if it's rainbow-themed! Let us know in the comments section below if you have implemented any of the tips mentioned in this post. And, as always, feel free to contact us if you have any questions.




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