Apartments - Recycle - Reduce - Reuse

How to Set Up Your Own Recycling System in your apartment

If your apartment complex does not have a recycling system in place, there are still steps you can take to set up your own system. Here is how to get started:

  • Locate a recycling center close to your home. An excellent place to find this information is on the easy-to-navigate website called Earth911. The website offers a search feature where you can enter your home address, and the site will offer lists of nearby recycling centers, including their contact information and hours of operation. Earth911 also provides details about the types of items each center accepts.
  • Another option is to set up a recycling system right in your own home. If you have storage space in your apartment, consider placing bins in an empty closet or little-used corner or a room and collect your recyclables there. However, if space is at a premium in your apartment, you can clear out a few drawers to store used cans, papers, and bottles there, each within its own drawer. To make things easier, you can line the drawers with reusable linen grocery bags. That way, when you are ready to go to the recycling center, you can lift out the bags with ease and the items are ready to go.
  • Next, it is time to get to the recycling center, which can pose a challenge for some people. If you do not have access to a car, consider taking a cab or even renting a Car2Go for an hour or so. You can combine your trip to the recycling center with other errands, saving you time and money. Another option is to set up a carpool schedule at your apartment complex, one where everyone takes turns going to the recycling center. Best of all, that’s free!

Saving Your Cans

Apartment Living - Save your Cans
Photo provided by Timothy Takemoto

It’s always nice to put a little extra cash in your pocket from a visit at the recycling depot. Keep in mind, these depots accept only aluminum beverage cans, not vegetable or soup cans. Generally, you will receive 10 cents per can and up to 25 cents for larger items.

However, if such a program is not offered in your state, more than 10,000 locations exist in the country that will buy back your beverage cans. Once again, the website Earth911 is an excellent place to find buy-back locations close to your home or job.

Tips for Reducing and Reusing

Most people have heard the phrase: “Reduce, reuse, and recycle,” which is excellent advice for individuals striving to become more eco-friendly. While taking your goods to the recycling center is a great start and helps minimize waste, consider reducing and reusing, too. Here are some ideas about how you can do just that:

  • Cut down on your consumption. Instead of purchasing bottled water, use a reusable water bottle. Also, when you go to your favorite coffee shop, use a travel mug as opposed to accepting a paper cup.
  • Do not print a lot on paper. Today, since smartphone apps exist for almost everything, there is little need to print. You can use apps to write up your grocery lists and even redeem coupons at the store.
  • Go online and opt out of receiving junk mail that you typically toss in the trash anyway.
  • Be creative! Brainstorm new ways you can use recyclables. Glass jars can be repurposed as storage containers, and you can turn old clothing into cleaning rags. Also, preschools and daycare centers may be looking for items they can use in their arts-and-crafts programs. Your old boxes and egg cartons may be useful to them.

Water Recycling

While this may sound like an unusual idea, water recycling is important and can be simple to do. Start out small by using water you have cooked your pasta in to water your indoor plants or garden.

You can try using a shower bucket. The next time your shower water is running and you’re waiting for it to heat up, place a bucket beneath the faucet. You will collect a lot of water, which can be used for many purposes.

Also, people tend to waste a great deal of water doing simple activities, such as brushing teeth and washing dishes. Keep the faucet off until you absolutely need it, and again, think of creative ways to reuse the water instead of dumping it down the drain.

Purchasing Recycled Materials

Recycling yourself is a great first step; however, purchasing recycled goods and materials keeps the circle of recycling going. If you support and buy from companies that offer recycled materials, they will remain in business, and promote more recycling.

A Final Word

As you can see from the suggestions above, you can start recycling, even if your apartment building does not have a program in place. However, think about asking your neighbors how they feel about recycling and sustainability. You might be surprised to find they feel as strongly about it as you do. If that is the case, consider asking your apartment’s management team if they would be interested in instituting a recycling program. It never hurts to ask!

Photo’s provided by:

Kevin Dooley and Timothy Takemoto