If you’re like me, you don't put an incredible amount of thought into how the garbage cans and wastebaskets in your home were designed and what materials they were made with. It's pretty much a non-issue.

My main trash receptacle is under my kitchen sink and is a standard Rubbermaid model. Next to it, there’s a smaller stainless steel garbage can that I toss my cans, glass, and plastic bottles in. In my bathroom, I have a small plastic wastebasket — an IKEA find. The trash in my bedroom gets a slightly fancier treatment with a “Translations Wastebasket” made from repurposed Japanese magazines and newspapers. On trash days, everything goes into a biodegradable kitchen bag and is taken out for pick-up. Recyclables go into old plastic shopping bags and are placed in the appropriate containers provided by my landlord. Nothing mind-blowing, I'm sad to report. 

However, for those looking to add eco-aesthetic appeal to garbage-land (especially those with bins and baskets that aren't hidden away) there are alternatives that make the mundane act of chucking something a bit, well, less trashy. Check 'em out. 

Translations Wastebasket @ The Container Store ($24.99)

I can personally recommend the good looks of these collage-y — each one is unique — linguistic trash treats for the home office, bathroom, or bedroom. They’re made with repurposed Japanese newspapers and magazines.

Thrash Can @ Uncommon Goods ($32.00)

Rugged n’ rough and made in the US of A, Normal Design's Thrash Can is made from 90 percent reclaimed car tires. It stands 17.5 inches tall and has a nifty design feature: Built-in handles.

Garbino Can by Karim Rashid for Umbra @ The Container Store ($6.99)

The winner of numerous design awards, this eco-can is made from biodegradable re-processed polypropylene, a material made from industrial scrap diverted from landfills. It’s green, modern, and the price is right, too.  Available in white, black, and green.

Urbano Eco Can @ UncommonGoods ($20)

Made from recycled polypropylene, this bin is ideal for green-minded bag ladies (and men). Its innovative, award-winning design allows for the hassle-free storage of plastic shopping bags. Available in green or pink and made in the US. 

Ben the Bin @ Ecotopia – UK (£6.99)
Meet Ben, a stackable recycling bin with handles that encourages easy, breezy, and according to the manufacturer, “glamorous,” waste separation. Made from 100 percent recycled plastic, this charming lad is available in pink, blue and green.

Mode Premium Home Recycling Center @ Williams-Sonoma ($279 - $299)
Although it’s not made from eco-materials as far as I can tell, this impressive home recycling center is a godsend for homes with multiple, active trash sources (children). Essentially, it’s a device that includes a non-electric compactor and large bins for sorting and organizing. Other features include a carbon filter to absorb odors and a “Recycle Day Reminder.”

Folding Recycling Bags @ Gaiam (3 for $15)
These rough n’ tumble, colorful bags with handles are a stylish alternative to standard recycling bins. Paper goes in the orange bag, cans go in the gray one, and glass goes into the blue bag. Simple.


Matt Hickman ( @mattyhick ) writes about design, architecture and the intersection between the natural world and the built environment.

Put a lid on it 2/11/2009
Don't like sorting recyclables and taking out the trash? Here's a few eco-rubbish bins to up your motivation.