Recycling in an apartment complex or recycling while renting can be complicated. Here’s some tips on making it work for you and your family as you rent.
When our twins were babies, WIC gave us a crazy amount of baby food in glass jars, and it felt wrong to chuck all that glass into the regular trash, especially when glass is 100% recyclable. But, we lived in an apartment without recycling bins, and I had no idea how to recycle in an apartment. But, my inner Green child was bound and determined to do it.
We discovered that Target had recycling bins at the front of their store for things like plastics, cardboard, and glass. I began putting the empty and rinsed glass baby jars into an empty box in our kitchen. When it got full, we’d put it in the back of our car, and take a Target run.
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It felt extremely awkward walking in with a box of clanking glass jars, but not nearly as embarrassing as when it came to dumping it: it was extremely loud and easily heard throughout the majority of the store. In fact, a cashier came to know us as “the family who recycled baby food containers.”
Unfortunately, it was also something we forgot to do regularly, and eventually stopped doing this practice altogether.
Recycling while living in an apartment is not very easy or practical for many individuals and families.
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I grew up in Wisconsin, where every week a recycling truck came to our curb to collect our neatly organized recyclables. My mother put newspapers and paper products into one grocery store brown paper bag and collapsed-down cereal boxes into another. She took the time to rinse, clean and remove labels on all of the glass and plastic items before placing them outside in our bin.
At our schools there was always a giant red recycling bin in every classroom for papers to be recycled in.
My hometown knew how to recycle and from an early age it was a normal part of life.
I naively thought that it was this way everywhere, only to discover, to my horror, that it is not once I moved to Utah for college. Seeing my roommates throw away countless recyclable items (and doing so myself) into our regular trash felt so completely wrong.
Even on campus, it was hard to find recycling bins for anything other than white and colored paper. Thankfully, during my time at BYU, they added plastic and aluminum recycling options in many locations throughout the campus. But, it was still hard to understand why it took them until 2007 or 2008 to implement recycling, when I had been recycling paper, plastics, glass, and aluminum for 20 years in Wisconsin.
Now in Texas, I am thrilled that our apartment complex actually has recycling bins right next to the dumpsters! I’m thrilled to finally be able to easily recycle glass, aluminum, plastics, and papers right outside my front door!
My son loves carrying our collapsed cereal boxes and empty plastic bottles to the bins. It’s really the only chore he does happily and eagerly every week. He gets upset if we do it without his help!
My big girls help carry our recycling bin out and make sure to grab any empty Tampico bottles we have or other bigger items. We keep a separate recycling trash can right next to our regular trash can in our kitchen to help us easily keep things separated.
I am pretty passionate about recycling and think everyone should at least make some effort to recycle, no matter where they live.
How to Recycle in an Apartment
If you live in an apartment, here are some suggestions and resources on how to make recycling work for your family:
- Check out Earth 911 to locate local recycling centers. Their website tells you where you can recycle all sorts of different materials including paint, electronics, batteries, construction waste, and automotive parts. It includes places like Best Buy, post offices, high schools, and churches that have recycling available too.
- Ask your home-owning friends if they recycle and if it would be okay to add your own recycling to theirs. Make sure to clean and sort your recyclables in order to be courteous to them.
- Drop your recycling off in the bins that are available at a different apartment complex that does offers recycling.
- Team up with people in your complex to limit trips to your local recycling center and encourage them to recycle too. Put up a few fliers or knock on a few doors and try to find a few like-minded people who would be willing to take turns taking everyone’s recycling to the center. Find a time that works for people to meet and load up the recycling into one person’s car. This tip came from Green UpGrader and can reduce your weekly or bi-weekly trips to just once a month or less.
- Talk to your apartment management and offer up ideas and solutions for the complex. They won’t know recycling is important to its residents until you speak up! Encourage your neighbors to speak up in favor of it too.
- Do a Google Search for your area to see if there is a pick-up service option. It may cost you a few dollars a month, but it will save you a trip to the recycling center yourself. WSI Trash Valet and Recycling and Trash Butler offer door to door trash collection services for apartments national wide. It may surprise you what is available in your town. This can be particularly useful if you have large items you need to dispose of or recycle (like appliances).
- Use your complex’s provided recycling bins appropriately, recycling only what is allowed, washing and cleaning them out beforehand.
I also suggest being on the lookout for any recycling incentive programs.
Some charities and schools are also looking for specific recycling products which you could donate to. We recently donated empty plastic bottles like milk jugs and Tampico bottles to a church service project for Sole Hope.
We also regularly try to reduce what we consume and have regularly used reusable bags for years now and we skip out on using throwaway products like paper plates and cups.
If you are a renter and moving soon, be sure to pick up the moving checklists for renters bundle.
How do you recycle in an apartment?
This post was sponsored by Tampico. All opinions are my own.