Archive for the 'recycling' Category

Awesome Ladies Pushing Recycling Door To Door

Their apartment complexes didn’t have decent recycling programs, so they’re training residents themselves!  Rock on awesome ladies, you inspire and humble me.

Apartment Agitation: The Plot Thickens

My apartment complex might be in violation of a civil ordinance!

This morning I got an email from the property manager apologizing for the lateness of her reply to my email- apparently it went right to spam.  In brief, she agrees that the recycling program is small, but she has sent out a few notices to tenants and doesn’t think the larger management company will sponsor more recycling facilities, but she’ll check with them again and send out another notice, since she hasn’t in a while.  She reiterated that she’s contacting the parent management company about bike storage, and said she’d likely know more about the potential for that by the end of the week.

So, that’s an update with not much of an update.  I’m going to reply to her and suggest some more proactive, simple methods to encourage recycling than just sending out notices to tenants- like posting notices in the common areas of all the buildings, and recycling notices and location on all the dumpsters- but I decided to actually read the local recycling statues first, to see just how far I can expect to push these people.

Alexandria has a link from the main recycling page to the Recycling Guidelines for Condos, Apartments, and Homeowners Associations.  In turn, they link to the Ordinance, Article H of Title 5 (pdf).  The pertinent section of that is this:

(b) The responsible party of any property management company or homeowners association,
business, federal, state, or local government agency, or multiple-family dwelling shall notify, in
writing, its tenants, employees and/or clients, as applicable, that recycling participation is
mandatory. Written notification (i.e., letter, newsletter, email notice, etc.) shall be provided
within fifteen (15) days to all new tenants and employees and no less frequently than bi-annually
thereafter to all existing tenants and employees. The written notification shall set forth the
requirements of this article and include at a minimum:
1. Source separation of recyclable materials from the waste stream is mandatory
for all tenants and employees;

2. What materials will be recycled;
3. How the recyclables are to be prepared;
4. Any set-out requirements;
5. Location of the recycling containers;
6. Prohibitions against contamination of source separated recyclable material;
7. The collection schedule for recyclable material
8. Name and telephone number of a representative of the business or multiple family
dwelling whom the tenant or employee should contact with any
questions.(c) The responsible party shall include the City’s Commercial Recycling Specialist or such
other City representative(s) as may be designated by the City on their notification distribution
list.
(d) The responsible party of any property management company or homeowners association,
business, federal, state, or local government agency, or multiple-family dwelling shall ensure that
all recycling signs and instructions are displayed prominently in public areas and directional
signs are used to direct tenants to the recycling collection area
.

I’ve bolded what I feel are the important parts.

I should note that I wasn’t informed that recycling was mandatory within 15 days of move-in, and there are no directional notices, signs, or instructions for recycling posted anywhere.

Later in the ordinance, they say not doing that is a class 4 civil violation.  They also tell you what department to contact if you find a violation.

I’m printing this out and taking it to the office in the morning, to give my well-meaning property manager a better reason to get a move on.

Also finding this out makes me feel pretty powerful as a citizen, and almost makes me feel better for not voting in the City Council elections yesterday.  Actually, no, it makes me feel worse, because now I have a good reason to appreciate the efforts of the local government.  Argh.

Apartment Agitation: Recycling and Bike Racks

I sent this email to the property manager and one of the associates this morning.

Hello,

I am a resident in the #### building.  I lived here about a year ago, also, in the #### building.

When I lived here last, we had just gotten the recycling bins at the end of the complex, and I asked about getting more convenient bins for each apartment building, so that we could recycle more items.  Are there any plans in place to widen the recycling program here at -the complex-?  If not, why not?  Is there anything I can do to help enlarge the program?  Additionally, I have noticed that the bins have contradictory labels- they’re labeled with the single-stream recycling stickers for Alexandria, but they also have separate “Newspapers Only” and “Cans Only” labels that make recycling here a guessing-game.  What exactly is the recycling policy here at -the complex-?  Has it been clearly stated to each resident?  I received no instructions for it when I moved back in, and wouldn’t have even known we had a recycling option if I hadn’t lived here before and specifically asked about it.

Also, I bike to work, and I’d like to know if there are any areas that I could store my bike in the complex.  I live on the third floor, and carrying my bike up and down the two flights twice a day probably builds character, but it would be very convenient if there were a bike rack somewhere on the ground floor.  There is an area under the stairs in this building that’s unused, and the bikes in a rack there wouldn’t be in anyone’s way.  Bike storage on the ground floor would also prevent cyclists from carrying the dirt and mud of the local trails higher into the buildings.

Let me know if there’s anything I can do to get either of these initiatives started.

Best,
Me
Address
Phone Number

I actually included where I live, though.  I’ll let you know what I hear back- now I’m off to report a leak and animal noises behind the vent, and casually mention that I sent an email with demands.

Apartment Recycling Problem

This is the inadequate recycling facility of which I speak:

recycling bins

These four containers are all we have for about a dozen buildings. And as I mentioned before, these are at the back of the complex, out of sight and out of the way for 90% of the residents.  There are no posted reminders about recycling anywhere.  Oh, also, these containers are poorly labelled.  Alexandria has single stream recycling- stick anything the city picks up in one container- but the bins are labelled for separate items as well as single stream.

confusing recycling instructions

So who knows what to believe?  I dropped in my single stream bags, and I hope that works.  Here’s the goal- get the city ins distributed to every apartment.  How will I accomplish this?  Well, first I should read up on the city’s resident recycling policy, and figure out what laws might apply to large buldings.

I lived in this complex about a year ago, when the bins were first installed.  I had talked to the property manager about it, and she said we had to have a certain percent of waste recycled before we got bins, which seems weird and counter intuitive to me.  Like, if that is the case, it clearly shouldn’t be, and I have no idea why the laws are the way they are in the first place.  And either way with 5 or 6 huge dumpsters on the property, emptied every few days, and 4 lame hidden recycling bins, there is no way we could ever reach a minimum amount of recycling in the first place.  So, I’ll read up, pay the property manager another visit for some helpful suggestions and see where management is with the city and the program itself.  At the very least. I will exhort them to post more clearly and widely the recycling rules, the location of the bins, and reminders to use them.  It’s a start.

Progress: It’s Been A While

Hey there!  I moved.  It took a while, because there was also a wedding and a class project in there too.  But the composter is humming away on my new balcony, my herbs are sitting in the window of my new kitchen, and I’ve got my very own separate gas and electricity bills are coming in, so pretty soon I can follow EcoCheap’s excellent example, and switch to wind power!

So, good start- I’ll post photos of the seedlings, which I expect any minute now.  I have checked three times in the past day- nothing yet.

Oh, also!  Biking to work?  I can, as soon as I mentally prepare myself to carry the bike down two flights every morning, then up the same stairs each night.  I’ll be in the weight room tomorrow morning, working on that part.  I imagine this will build me more character than muscle, really.

But the eating-my vegetables thing has been going really well.  I cooked a big vegetarian meal for the folks who came by to help me move- cheaper than pizza.  After the move, I’ve been living off of, well, cheese and crackers, but I’ve cooked two or three other big meals too.  I’ll post the recipe for my most recent tomorrow- pierogies with onions and apples.  Actually, that pretty much is the recipe, but I’ll flesh it out a bit for you, I guess.

The most important thing is, I haven’t purchased meat in a couple weeks.  And I still eat it when I eat out, and when other people cook, but I’m not missing it in my own food prep.  You can thank me later, environment!  Just make my plants grow.

New goals:  definitely gardening, this month.  I might also start harassing my apartment complex to working on the truly pitiful recycling options here.  They have three normal garbage bins for the hundreds of people who live in this complex, and they’re hidden in the back.  Now, I’d like them to fix a few things in my apartment before I get annoying, but maybe I can convince them to at least get recycling depositories in each building, or maybe even bins in each apartment!

Gonna dream big.

Review: Practical Recycled Calendars

I get a wall calendar and an appointment book every year in one of those green-light, year-by-year-receding-before-us kind of dreams of organization.  I had a pretty date book I got from a seller at etsy for assignments last semester, but it only had date pages and was consequently driving me crazy flipping back and forth trying to remember what was going on.

I am picky about my calendars, since it’s hard enough for me to remember to use them in the first place, and if I don’t like them, they’re just going to get “lost” on a shelf for 11 months.  I require tabs, month pages, and daily spaces from my calendars, and they must be in either sober and dignified or totally awesome patterns.  Plus, now I try to buy sustainable, so…I figured etsy was as good as I was going to get for a while.

But! When I was at Staples near Bailey’s Crossroads, I found a display of At-A-Glance weekly and Monthly calendars, in a new recycled version.  They’re 100% post consumer recycled paper, and the cover and binding have 50% and 90% recycled material, and the ink is vegetable-based.  I got the weekly/monthy appointment book for me, and the monthly for the Gentleman Friend (understandably, he was thrilled, with the smallest “th” possible), but they’ve got other recycled configurations, too. 

Then! My wall calendar was from Barnes and Noble in Potomac Yard this year.  They have an in-house printing company called Silver Lining, which is a member of the Green Press Initiative, and they print on recycled paper using soy ink.  There were a few displays of different calendars from Silver Lining before the New Year, when I got mine, but now you’ve got to search their website for “Silver Lining” to see what’s still in stock.  They are on sale.

Um.  This all assumes that you still need or want a calendar this far into 2009.  Or prep for 2010?  Either way, here’s to procrastination and post-New Year’s sales!

Eco-City Alexandria News

1) Recycle your christmas tree, if you can bear to take it down yet- just set it out, naked, in your curbside pickup area before 7am, January 17th (this Saturday morning).

2)  The city’s posted a list of their top ten biggest environmental accomplishments of 2008.

3) Tuesday (tomorrow), Alexandria’s Environmental Policy Comission will present their final draft of the first phase of the Environmental Action Plan for the city to the full Council.  Given their hard work and support from a few city council members, I’m betting it will be accepted.   You can find pdfs of the first phase and the EPC’s presentation to the council here.

4) On Wednesday January 28th, the city will hold a Green Building Forum from 7-9 in the Washington Masonic Memorial.  The draft proposal to be presented, along with an agenda and directions, can be found here.  If you haven’t been to the Masonic Memorial yet, it’s worth a trip for the building alone, and the possibility of finding the animatronic George Washington figure in the basement.  Yes, it talks.  Come along, I’m going, and I’m pretty sure EcoCheap is too!

5) OH SNAP Alexandria is having a restaurant week.  This is not necessarily Eco-City news, but shop local, eh?  From the list: Las Tapas is delicious; I was really looking forward to Bilbo Baggins but I found a bug in my appetizer the first time and never went back; Stardust is cute and tasty; and Pat Troy’s is way fun, but more for a big group of friends and $5 pints and sing-a-longs than a three course prix fixe.  Then again, I’ve only had the privilege of the late-night menu at Pat Troy’s, and that’s pretty hearty, so maybe I’m missing something.  And those are the only places I know and feel strongly about, so I have some sampling to do.


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virescent.blog (at ) gmail.com

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