Turn a Trailer into a Recycling Cart

This smart-designed recycling cart solves all your rubbish sorting and storage troubles!

| February/March 1992

For years, I attempted to maintain a neatish yard — one without rubbish barrels being my homestead's most prominent visual feature. When I kept the barrels outside, lined up along the side of the garage, they were susceptible to critters of all sorts, wild and domestic. When inside, they took up a good deal of my workshop and invited a flow of traffic into my workspace: rubbish man, tenants, friends and relatives. My invention of this recycling cart cured all my problems, and putting it together was a fun weekend project to boot.

My shed is basically a light trailer designed and modified to store household rubbish barrels neatly and to easily transport their separated contents to the recycling center. Its specialized design holds several trash barrels, covers them with a single lid and conceals them from view.
Sure, it's got all the visual charm of a pumphouse, but its virtues are readily apparent. It saves time in not having to load and unload the barrels; it also saves money (my trailer is 15 years old — how much do you pay for rubbish removal service in a year?).

But that's just the beginning. The trailer saves garage space; it saves the yard's appearance (mine is neatly painted and parked behind the bushes); it saves one from having to retrieve windblown cans and lids or being awoken in the middle of the night by them; and it keeps away flies, mice, rats, dogs, raccoons and other pests.

Making the Recycling Cart

Start with a trailer — new, used, large or small. Draw a floor plan of it on graph paper (do this first, to see if it will suit your situation). Next, find what's readily available in barrel sizes. I like to buy the "indestructible" type: They may be expensive for five or six, but they're strong, quiet, won't dent or rust and will last forever in their protective enclosure. Measure them at the top and see how many will fit into your trailer (cut off the molded handles if they're in the way).

When that's resolved, note the height of the barrels — without the covers — and make that the height of the trailer sides. This is one of the keys for the success of this project, and what makes it different from the ordinary rubbish trailer: It seals the tops of the barrels and provides support for the plywood lid so it doesn't droop in the middle and collect rainwater.

Label the containers on the graph-paper plan, including all the separating requirements, and keep in mind the order that the bins are in at the recycling center so you can drive through smoothly. Also consider which side of the trailer you want to open, for your convenience at home or at the recycling center.

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