Posts Tagged 'apartment'

Progress: Growth

In April, I was focusing on gardening, and negotiating with the apartment complex for unlame recycling facilities.  Now May is half over, and they’re both going very well.  My garden is growing, up and out.  Dad gave me tomatoes and a pepper, and Mom gave me a flower and some oregano this weekend, so my deck is pretty cluttered.  I’ll take a picture for you if it ever stops raining.

I’m growing spinach (and/or baby’s breath- I thought I planted both but everything looks the same, and this might be weird because I might have planted spinach with the morning glories), morning glories, peas the vegetable, sweet peas the flower, and I think that’s it.  Compared to last year, it was painless- I dumped some seeds in and forgot about them, it rained for two weeks, and now everything is green.  I’ve either gained garden perspective, or I’m more easily distracted.

Next steps:  Ascertain what I did plant, repot and stake the tomatoes.  Stick trays under the pots, since they’re peeing on the deck underneath me, and it’s just too soon to alienate my neighbors.

I was also bugging the office.  I determined they are violating a law!  I’m not sure I properly expressed how thrilling that day was for me.  Felt like a citizen hero, became David to Goliath, etc.  I did talk to the property manager about that last Friday, actually, and she said the city never enforces those laws so it’s cool for now.  It was a fascinating interview- I learned a lot about her personal life- but the management position is, the law isn’t enforced, and we residents are uncooperative, so they aren’t going to push it.  She wasn’t aware until I pointed it out that they were in violation, though, and she said she’d send out another notice.  Which is required anyway twice a year.  She did mention that, if more people recycle, they’ll save money on trash pick-up, since recycling pick-up is basically free, and the trash is changed by weight.  So, I see a two-fold path on this:  figuring out who enforces this for the city, and why they don’t, and cajoling the management to take some recycling baby steps.  Proper container labeling, for one.  No progress on the bike racks so far.

I’m going to follow up on the apartment agitation, so let’s count that as something for ‘half-May’.

For a legitimate new challenge, though, I’m going to work out my travel offset plans.  I finished my classes this Tuesday, so I can let myself read my guidebooks and do the fun research for New Zealand with a clear conscience now.  I’ve been vegetarian for a couple weeks now, as part of that project.  I did eat some pepperoni, and I had shrimp on Mother’s Day, but otherwise awesome.  Except for when I tried a peanut butter and banana sandwich, which is seriously gross and how did Elvis eat those?  That was a rough morning, gastronomically.  It sounded like such a delicious idea.  I’m pretty sure I’m getting enough protein- eggs, tofu, chickpeas, those are protein right?- and I’ve done a little online searching for recipes, which worked well.  Though they did lead me to the pb and banana combo.  Mixed bag, I guess.

More of that for the rest of the month, then, plus some research on carbon offset programs, and commenter bullmooser made a great point that some sort of activism to reduce emissions in the long term would be another great way to offset my carbon guilt.  Stay tuned.

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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.

Green Design, In My Basement: Part 1

Moving is a gigantic hassle, but I really enjoy rearranging all my stuff.  I did a mostly good job keeping my last move as recycled and eco-friendly as possible (minus the trips back and forth with a pick-up truck, but that is the whole point of moving, I guess).  Here’s a tour of my new place, with green features:

The walls: My ceiling is low, and the lights are fluorescent, so I painted the walls to make the space more liveable.  Sherwin Williams has a store nearby, and their zero-VOC paint comes in a nice big range of colors. They have a really neat web tool where you can “paint” rooms in colors you like, trim and all, to test the combo- worth at least a half hour of play time. Plus, with a 20% discount that week, it was a good deal.  Typically their gallon cans of flat paint are $35, and there’s a 15% discount for signing up to be a “preferred customer”, which I understood to mean they send you coupons sometimes.  But the 20% was better, and so I got a can each of Osage Orange and Dill Green.

“VOC” is shorthand for volatile organic compound, which is a substance typically used by paint companies to dissolve pigments in their mixes.  VOCs are way toxic though– they’re the smell of paint drying, and why you should paint only in well-ventilated areas.  Inhale too much and you can get all sorts of damage to your central nervous system.  So, while zero VOC paint is a few bucks more expensive, and doesn’t come in the deepest colors offered (since other solvents can’t dissolve as much pigment as VOCs), it’s the way to go if you want to minimize indoor air pollution. It’s safe to paint during the day and sleep in the room that night, with this stuff. Even Sherwin Williams isn’t a chemical free, totally earth-friendly paint, though. I used it because I’m in a moldy basement, and the biocide aspect of the paint is appealing.  Plus, the store is close-by.  Old Fashioned Milk Paint Company sells a milk-based paint in a large range of colors, and it’s available at Woodcraft, down in Springfield.  It comes in a powder, you add water and mix it up, and it’s a lot harder to match colors across batches that way.  But still, it loves the planet, and is a safer alternative to chemical paints.

The curtains: I folded an old window hanging that had gotten sun-damaged, and hung it on extra picture wire behind a reed blind from Ikea (purchased 6 moves ago, languishing since that apartment).  I sewed a curtain for another window out of a fabric remnant and an ill-fitting thrifted skirt.  I could have donated it again, but it would have looked pretty bad on anyone, so I put it out of our misery.  It looks great as my curtain.

Another curtain was created from hanging all my scarves over a rod, and securing them with extra hair clips.  Inexpensive, keeps the scarves from getting obscured on the coat hooks, and looks pretty fantastic, what with all the color and texture.  It was the GF’s idea to do it- one of a couple great ideas he had for my room.  I shouldn’t have been so surprised about those, he’d done a great job setting up his own apartment.  Curtain rods were made possible by the donation of five long bamboo stalks from GF’s mother, because she has awesome ideas about moving-in gifts.  So far, we’ve cut curtain rods for the window, closet, and a strange recess in one corner that exposes the mechanical equipment.  I’ve got about 40 ft left, if anybody needs any.

The welcome mat: I now have an outside door, so I found a 100% recycled rubber doormat at Target.  Small victory in a Big Box.

Next time: Craigslist Shopping and New Appliance Guilt!


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virescent.blog (at ) gmail.com

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