Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Repurposed Recycling Bin Planter

The recycling dumpsters that appeared alleys across St Louis. Source.
I love to recycle. I even implemented a recycling program in my sorority house in college (you would not believe the amount of paper/plastics/tin cans a houseful of women can create!).  When I moved to a new apartment in St. Louis, I was happy to have a recycling bin provided so that I could single-stream my recyclables and take them to the curb every week - at my first apartment I had to separate my recyclables and carry them down the block.  About 6 months after I moved into my new apartment, our neighborhood awoke one morning to recycling dumpsters next to the regular dumpsters in the alley. I was SO excited about this, as it was even more convenient, as now, for the average resident, recycling is almost as easy as throwing away trash and more people might begin this good habit! Plus, I could take out my recycling at my leisure and did not have to remember to take it out to the curb every week.  If you live in St. Louis and want to learn more about recycling, click here.

However, this left me with a dilemma about what to do with my recycling bin. I used it for a while to collect my recyclables and take them out to the trash, but these recycling bin lids are heavy, and it is impossible for me to lift the lid high enough to dump the contents of my bin into the recycling dumpster. Plus, the bin was rather large, and I preferred to use a smaller trash receptacle to collect my recyclables in.

Then, after I bought tomatoes and peppers, I needed pots to plant them in. The previous year, I used pots that were way too small, and the plants did all right, but could have done much better. I went to Target to buy some pots, but since I am very thrifty (read cheap) and the cheapest options in the store still seemed rather expensive, I only bought one and then had the brilliant idea to convert my recycling bin into a planter for the tomatoes and peppers.


  1. Wash the inside of the recycling bin.
  2. Set the recycling bin upside down on the ground
  3. Puncture the bottom of the bin several times (I made ~8-10 large knife cuts around the edges of the bottom of the bin) with a large knife, a screwdriver, a hammer and nails, or anything else that will make holes.  This is important to allow efficient drainage of excess water.
  4. Turn the bin right side up, fill with soil, and plant your plants.
The tomatoes and peppers in this bin did extremely well last year!  The cherry tomatoes made it up to the second story landing on the deck steps.  Hopefully they will do as well this year.  I noticed when I was planting this year's crop that there were several earth worms living in the pot.  I don't know much about gardening but I will take that as a good sign.  :)

Update - Cherry tomato - Summer 2013:

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