While convenient recycling options like curbside pickup are great, they aren’t always readily available depending on where you live and what kind of dwelling you reside in. In California, for example, only 40% of people living in apartments have easy access to recycling at their complexes, according to the nonprofit organization Californians Against Waste. When your living place doesn’t have a recycling program set up, you’re left with two options: throw those recyclables in the trash or take them to a recycling center yourself. Neither of those options is terribly appealing compared to a neighborhood recycling bin. But if you’re willing to do a little legwork now for long term gain, there is a third option.
If you’re concerned about recycling in your apartment complex, condo complex or neighborhood, you can pitch a recycling program to your property management company or homeowners association (HOA). A few months back we talked to a recycling industry professional about what steps to take to overcome apartment recycling obstacles. Now Earth911 has spoken with people who have advocated recycling and work in the property management industry to come up with additional tips for proposing a recycling program. We’ve also put together a sample letter that could be presented to the powers that be to get the ball rolling.
Keep reading to see how you can start a small-scale recycling revolution where you live.
1. Gain Support
As with any grassroots initiative, you can’t go it alone. To get a property management company or HOA to pay attention, you need to bolster your numbers.
“Make your voice heard. The more people who do that the better,” a property manager for large apartment complexes in the Dallas area told Earth911. He explained that if one or two residents bring something up, it’s not a big priority. Companies already have budgets in place for the year, and dealing with unforeseen expenses is a hassle. If a large group of people are concerned, those in charge are more likely to put money for recycling in next year’s budget.
So, you’ll need to talk to your neighbors. Make a list of those interested or have them give you their name and email address so you can set up a mailing list to keep people in the loop.
That’s what Brenna Dixon, a recycling advocate and former student at the University of South Florida, did when she started building the foundation for a recycling program on her campus. A handful of students started investigating how to get recycling bins around the school and they wanted to get the word out to gain support. “We got 50 to 60 people signed up on our mailing list to keep people informed of what we were doing,” she said. “This is an important first step for any recycling initiative. You and the people you will eventually propose your plan to need to know people are interested.”
Something to keep is mind is that your property management company wants you to be happy. “First and foremost, recycling is an amenity, just like having a gym or swimming pool. If our residents like it, they’re more likely to stay with us, and we want our residents to live in our apartments for a long time,” said Louis Schotsky, president of investments and sustainability at Equity Residential, a property management company with over 400 residential properties nationwide. That means if you want recycling, your property manager or HOA needs to know about it.