December Great Story by Alexandra Coblentz, Central Coast Water Fellow

When I moved into my apartment, I was shocked to discover that the complex did not offer recycling nor green waste bins. Sure, I could get past the green waste since my apartment lacks a yard and I can bring my compost to the community garden, but no recycling!? Oh, the shame of mixing paper, cardboard, bottles and cans in with trash to be sent to the landfill!

It didn’t seem right to me that a 50-unit complex was lacking a weekly recycling service, so I contacted the city’s waste management coordinator and explained the lack of recycling at the apartment complex. “Are you sure?” the man on the other line asked, unconvinced. Yes, I had looked all around and was quite certain that there were no recycling receptacles offered by the apartment unit. Apparently it was quite rare for an apartment unit to be without recycling and this situation was completely off of the city’s radar. Still skeptical, the man informed me that someone would come check the site that week and get back to me.

Sure enough, a call was returned with an update stating that although the apartment complex was paying for recycling services, there were no bins on the property. The city would deliver two recycling containers and two green waste bins to the parking lot that week. Personal bins with recycling information would be distributed among tenants. Kitchen compost bins would also be distributed.

The parking lot received recycling and green waste bins two weeks ago. Sure enough, the recycling bins are filling up with cardboard, glass, and plastic. The green waste bins are being utilized. The trash containers are noticeably less full. Dozens of people who weren’t previously recycling and properly disposing green waste now are. And all it took was a phone call.

Sometimes in this big world we live in, daily sustainability efforts can seem minor. This time, a simple phone call initiated the diversion of hundreds of pounds of recycling and green waste every week. Every week! Make the effort; it just may make a huge difference.