In nature, there is no such thing as waste. One creature leaves behind or expels what it doesnt want, and another creature or organism comes along and eats it. Even the carbon dioxide that is breathed out by animals is used by plants as their raw material. Its all a cycle.
Just as with water, we now need to take responsibility for designing the cycle, using systems that nature has already developed, to move that which we dont need to become that which something else wants. And this isnt some romantic fuzzy idea relevant only to hippy types who wear flowers on their shirts. Nature surely will recycle our waste, it just might not do it in a way or to a time scale that sustains our existence.
Most of us are already separating out glass, metal, and paper from the other things, but until we have developed systems for separating all of the components of our waste at some centralized center, we need to separate them at the point of production. If we pour a pot of pepper corns into a pot of salt, it is much more difficult to separate them later. If we have plastic bags and food wrappers and we put them in the bin with our potato peelings, then who volunteers to separate them again? If we cannot use these items for their intended use again, then lets design systems for keeping them separate, from the moment we have finished using them.
So how can we design our homes to support us in keeping incompatible elements of our waste apart from each other?
We put ALL organic waste into the black water recycling system. That way it all produces valuable compost. Who needs expensive and environmentally damaging chemical fertilizers, when we could recycle all the nutrients our food needs from that very food.
We design into our kitchens and appropriate places in our homes, multipart containers, with the necessary compacting facility, so that we offer our city authorities refuse and sanitation departments, materials that have value for reuse and recycling.
We design into our homes, storage systems to support us in reusing items that can be reused, and holding reusable items that we cannot use or do not want, but that which could be passed on to others who do.
We design into our homes, storage systems to enable us to retain environmentally dangerous items (chemicals, electrical, electronic, and other items), until they can be collected for safe disposal.