Down in the dumps: 8 thoughts we all have on a trip to the local rubbish tip and recycling centre

From rubbish rage to decluttering relief here's a list of those moments that every de-hoarder will recognise on a visit to the local dump

There comes a time in every homeowner's life when a trip to the local waste disposal unit is very much due. Whether you've given your garden an overhaul, cleaned out the loft or simply realised your house could easily be shortlisted for 'The Hoarder Next Door', you know it's time to load up the car to head to the nearest local tip, dump, or as it's now standardly known the 'Household Waste and Recycling Centre'.

family with boxes trees and sky

(Image credit: TBC)

Spring is a popular time to visit the HRC as people like to dust away the cobwebs and give their houses a good clean and declutter, so we've put together a list of common thoughts that may cross your mind while you are there...

1. 'Why have I chosen to come on the same day as EVERYONE else in my neighbourhood!?'

Actually, you probably haven't, it's just UK recycling has risen sharply since the millenium* so they are very busy places. Don't be surprised if you even find yourself queuing to get in, especially if it's the weekend and even more so if the centre happens to be located by a car boot sale site. Most people tend to dump anything they don't manage to sell on their stalls. Go to your local council website to find your site's opening times and, if possible, try to go during the week (although not all are open every day) or towards the end of the day when it's quieter.

2. 'Where do I put my rubbish as there are so many different containers and why are they different colours?'

Don't worry, you are not alone. People wandering around aimlessly with bags full of rubbish and not knowing where anything should go is a very common sight. The sites operate for members of the public to dispose of their household waste so that as much as possible can be recycled, therefore rubbish is separated into allocated containers for recycling products such as garden waste, hardcore and rubble, mixed glass, textiles and clothes, electricals and more. Each container should be clearly marked with what you can throw in where and sometimes colour coded, too. Do your homework before you go.

3. 'Oh no I've put everything in one bag'!

This is a classic rookie mistake! For the above reasons, separate your recycling and general rubbish before heading to your local site and you'll save time. If you're not sure whether something can be recycled ask the staff at the centre before you dump or it could lead to trouble (see below).

4. 'Why are there eyes following me around watching what I put where?'

Unfortunately, the refuse staff sometimes have a bit of reputation for being a tad blunt if you put things in the wrong containers. Try to remember it's their job to make sure waste is recycled properly and it must be frustrating if nobody bothers to read the well placed signs. They are not there to help you dispose of your waste, only monitor everything is in the correct place for collection.

5. 'I really shouldn't have worn these flip-flops!'

Waste and recycling centres are dusty, dirty, and often smelly, with people lifting heavy rubbish and recycling in all directions. So take your own health and safety into consideration - wear sensible footwear and preferably old clothing that you won't mind getting scruffy.

6. 'Why am I going home with more than I brought?'

We are fast becoming a nation of 'upcyclers' and, as the saying goes, 'one man's waste is another man's treasure'. Take a look around, there could be a perfectly good chest of drawers in need of a rub down and lick of chalk paint to transform it or an old wrought-iron garden chair could look shabby chic on your patio. Check with the staff that it's OK to take something home that catches your eye as you may need to leave a donation. Some sites even have designated areas with items deemed worthy to sell.

7. 'Oh that feels good'

The thought of going to the tip is inevitably a chore that's a bit mucky and smelly, but ultimately once the job is done you will feel lighter and relieved that you have de-cluttered. Plus, you are helping our planet by recycling what you can so pat yourself on the back.

8. 'Oh no! Now I have to go and get a car valet!'

With all that rubbish your car is likely to get messy. Line your boot with plastic sheets for protection or next time order a skip instead.

* According to data published by the European Environment Agency.


Rachel Homer has been in the interiors publishing industry for over 15 years. Starting as a Style Assistant on Inspirations Magazine, she has since worked for some of the UK’s leading interiors magazines and websites. After starting a family, she moved from being a content editor at to be a digital freelancer and hasn’t looked back.