The Waste Bin That Brilliantly Combines Trash, Recycling, and Composting

updated May 1, 2019
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(Image credit: Lauren Volo)

Many of us only had one waste disposal mechanism growing up: the trash can. And in the early days, it was probably just that — a can, with a lid — as opposed to some fancy, tech-y gadget with loads of features. These days, not only have the cans themselves evolved, but our waste disposal habits have too. Most of us are separating out our recyclables, and many people compost, too, whether it’s in their own backyards or through a pickup service.

Each kind of waste needs its own container, so lots of us do what I do: one big can for trash, a smaller one for recycling, and a countertop container for compost.

That’s why I was so impressed when I came across this bin from Joseph Joseph. It combines all three waste sources into a single, streamlined bin!

(Image credit: Amazon)

Here’s how it works: The Totem is a tall, skinny bin (about 10 inches narrower and six inches taller than my current fairly large trash can). And the interior is divided into three sections. On the bottom there’s a pull-out divided bin with a 6.5-gallon capacity for recyclables and on the top you lift the lid to find a removable, compost caddy with a one-gallon capacity on the left and a regular waste bin on the right with a 9.5-gallon capacity. So all of your waste needs are combined into one spot — ingenious!

I love how this system can save both floor space (goodbye, extra recycling bin!) and counter space (see ya, compost bin!) in your home. It lives in a smaller footprint than many cans, too, and even though it’s taller than many, it’s just below countertop height (although the lid raises up to 42 inches, so you have to make sure it’ll be unobstructed).

The design is nice and clean and won’t fight with the rest of your kitchen decor. I think this would be a great choice for apartment living, or if you have one or two people in your household. It also has a carbon filter inside the lid to help eliminate odors. And it comes with a 10-year guarantee (just like SimpleHuman trash cans).

My only concern for my own usage would be that the capacity is smaller than we’re accustomed to, since our current trash can holds 11.9 gallons of trash. It would get full very quickly, especially the recycling, which is also smaller than our current setup. So we’d have to change our habits (read: empty the trash more often) to make this work. Not necessarily a bad thing!

Have any of you tried this bin? What do you think?