DIY: Trash and Recycling Center

The trash bin with a butcher block we’ve built by hacking a kitchen cart with wire baskets 6 years ago started to fall apart. I really liked the fact that trash can was hidden and we additional space to use as either a cutting board when cooking or just counter top space. In the meantime, our needs have changed. City of Chicago brought back the recycling program, so a separate area was needed to collect recyclables. That additional trash bag was a sore to the eye, just hanging by the side of the trash bin. On top of that, we needed additional storage space for vegetables that didn’t require refrigeration such as onions, potatoes, and squash types. We needed a hack to build a trash and recycling center.

All of these led met to look for a kitchen island. I’ve looked at various sizes and configurations both first hand as well as second hand and found just what I needed at

IMG_2638In the meantime, we went out to get slide-out waste basket systems. The width of the cabinets in this kitchen island was 13″, quite narrower than a regular kitchen cabinet. Most of the slide-out systems for kitchen cabinets did not work for us. We found these Real Solutions slide-out waste basket systems at Home Depot. We got 2 of them but the 35QT waste bins included in the system seemed small for us. We would underutilize the 25″ height of the cabinets and have to take out the trash more often. We found these 10-gallon trash cans that fit the 23″ height of the cabinets as well as the base of the slide-out system.

IMG_5754Once the kitchen island with wood top arrived, it took us about an hour to put the frame of the kitchen island together and around 30 minutes to put in the each slide-out system. The base of the slide out system base was a tad bit longer than the cabinet base. Thus, we didn’t nail the plywood and left the back side of the cabinet open.

IMG_5759After putting on the doors, our trash and recycling center was open for business. Later I copied trash and recycling icons I found online on a word document, printed them out, cut them out with x-acto knife, taped them on the trash bins and stenciled the icons on the bin with sharpie pens. (as shown in the first 2 photos) Then I immediately put the stencil papers in the recycling bin without taking the photo of it. :)

We have been using this trash and recycling center for over 2 months now. The kitchen island moves around since it has casters. At first, I thought the side hinged door and slide out system would not be as practical as our previous trash bin‘s tilt out trash can but it works fine. Slide out system safely holds the full 10-gallon trash can. It is more durable than the hinges carrying the weight of a full 13-gallon trash can. You can also take the trash can out of the slide-out system if needed, which was not possible since trash can was fixed to the trash bin door with the older one. We don’t have recyclable stuff lying around in the kitchen anymore. We have more counter top space which we use as a snack bar. I think this hack will stay for another 7-8 years.

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