Recycling mixed into Garbage Blues - How to get my guests on board

I’m in a small beach town with very strict recycling rules. We are fined if they mix the trash and recycling. I explain to my guests that they must put the recycling in one bin and the trash in the other. Nearly every guest mixes them up and we have to sort through their disgusting trash to find the bottles and cans. Is there a nice way you can suggest to tell the guests that they will be charged if we need to
do this for them?

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Dear guests if we have to sort the recycle for you there will be a $25 charge in addition to what the city fines us.

Or: The city charges $25 for unsorted recycles, we charge twice that.

The idea is they need to know they will have to sort or pay, however you word it.



Like RiverRock suggests, put the fine in your house rules.

Do you have some kind of education/flyer for what is recycled vs landfill? I’d label each bin very clearly with what is and isn’t allowed.


We do have an explanation, and labeled bins with very clear pictures of what is recyclable and what is not. There is a lot of drinking going on. I think when they get wasted, they aren’t concerning themselves with the trash and just throw it wherever! But I love the warning and need to put that wording in the listing.
Thank you!!


Just added this to my listings:

The city of Santa Cruz has very strict rules on recycling. On the blue bin, which is only for recyclable items, there is a very clear explanation of what is allowed in it. If the bin gets contaminated with food waste, we get fined. If we have to sort the recycling for you, there will be a $50 charge.


Thank you all. This is a tough one in Seattle even in my home when I have guests. Every community outside of Seattle is different and even Seattle changes the rules frequently

I have been struggling with this. I am a new host and actually have just been sorting myself. I am super green but I want to strike a balance between the earth, the fines from the city, and somebody being on vacation and having to work hard with their garbage!

I don’t fine people but I include this is the Rules, booklet and the arrival email. I am not sure it is entirely successful since I don’t go through every bag in the landfill bin to see if it contains recyclables but my main aim is to keep plastic bags out of the recycle bin as I once had to take the bin to the rubbish dump myself when a guest left one plastic bag containing beer bottles in there. i actually saw the bin man get out of his truck cabin, look in the bin and then drive off so he must have seen it before and I had gotten several warning notices.

“12. Please remember not to leave any plastic bags in the large Yellow top recycle bin or the council won’t empty it. Recycle bin is for plastic bottles and food containers, tin cans and glass bottles. Red top bin is for landfill rubbish including ALL plastic bags. Leave organic scraps, including cardboard and paper in the Green top bin.”

I’ve only got room for one medium size bin inside so i rely on guests sorting the rubbish when they leave.

I agree that while on vacation, people should be relaxed and not have to stress over their trash. Yet…throwing trash into our recycling bin in my town is essentially breaking a law. So if they are doing something not legal, I would not allow it, and this is why I’m cracking down myself. Not to mention that it’s so stressful and disgusting to have to go through people’s trash…and feels somewhat voyeuristic as well. I’m hoping that my warning will make a difference. Since I posted it yesterday, I got four bookings. So it doesn’t seem to be keeping anyone away yet!

I don’t have a whole house and don’t have a kitchen so it’s not a problem for me to sort the garbage. In fact (look away if easily disgusted) I find stuff in the trash that’s worth keeping so I always go through it. Shampoo bottles that aren’t empty, food that isn’t opened, those become mine. Even in my home with friends they toss aluminum cans into the trash and I have to pic them out. I’m not a very germphobic person thank goodness.

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After one of my first guests left I lost a butter knife. I figure it went in the trash now I put on gloves and look through the trash and end up sorting out recycle as I go.


EDITED TO ADD I was cleaning yesterday after the last guest and went through the silverware to see if it was clean and the butterknife was there. No idea where it was I will ask the housekeeper if she has any idea.

I have a six bedroom house and sometimes there are large parties with a lot of drinking going on. This isn’t like picking a random can or glass bottle out of the trash, it’s all mixed up with half eaten food, cigarette butts, dirty diapers, you name it. Gloves are good but I still don’t want to do it!


I understand. I’d still do it but I’m a wierdo. I’m still hoping to find that winning lotto ticket or diamond ring that gets dumped accidentally. LOL. I really think the threat of a fee will help and when it doesn’t at least you get paid for your trouble.


Up the price and take care of it yourself.


Set a fee, make it prominant and let it go. It then leaves you two choices:

  1. If you just get a non-escalating fine, charge and pay the fine.
  2. If it is an escalating fine, sort it and charge the guest.

Explaining that is it local law may help to ensure they realize they would have to do it no matter where they stay in your town.