Dear Recyclebank: I am moving from a house where I had curbside recycling to an apartment where all they have is a dumpster for trash, and no recycling. What can I do to continue recycling at my apartment? –Debbie C.
Dear Debbie: If your apartment building doesn’t have a recycling program in place, you can take steps to make a positive change. Here’s what you can do:
1. Petition your building to start a recycling program.
2. Talk to your neighbors and rally them to the cause. There’s strength in numbers.
3. Help your landlord by doing some research into recycling-program options.
4. Submit your petition and your research results and talk to your landlord about options.
5. If all else fails, you can still take recyclables to drop-off centers on your own, or as a group.
6. Reduce the amount of waste you generate — recyclable or not.
In many cities and states, offering recycling services is required for multi-family housing units such as condos and apartments. For instance, the California governor signed that rule into law in 2011, and in New York City, recycling is required in apartment buildings. However, apartment dwellers in smaller towns and cities may still find that their building doesn’t offer recycling.
Your first step to get recycling service in your building is to check the local laws in your municipality and find out if your landlord is required by law to offer recycling bins. If it appears that recycling is required, contact your local department of sanitation so they can ensure that the building provides recycling bins and pick up.
If, however, the building isn’t required to provide recycling services, the landlord might be willing to make a change if enough tenants request it. Ask your new neighbors if they’d be willing to voice their opinions through a petition or a meeting with the building owner. To strengthen your case, you might want to help your landlord by researching the options and costs of city, or independent recycling services — and mention that offering recycling can make the building more attractive to potential tenants. Keep in mind that the expense might be passed on to tenants, but perhaps you can negotiate to have the landlord cover some of the cost, since they could also stand to benefit.
A lack of curbside recycling should not deter you from doing your part and recycling what you can, even if it might be a little more difficult. Invest in a recycling bin to keep in your kitchen, or in a closet, and find a local recycling drop-off facility to take recyclables to when the bin gets full. You and eco-minded neighbors might even be able to join forces to take turns making recycling runs, which would save gas.
Finally, since recycling can be a little more challenging for apartment dwellers who don’t have a recycling service, it’s a good chance to try to reduce the amount of waste you generate, whether recyclable or not. Buying more products in bulk, investing in reusable products, from water bottles to napkins, and buying beer or wine in refillable growlers rather than bottles and cans, are among the many ways you can cut down on recyclable and non-recyclable household waste.