Housing Complex

Lessons Learned In 2008: People Want to Recycle

Ahhhh memories. I guess it's that time of year to contemplate all the knowledge you've soaked up, all the lives that have touched you, all the discoveries you've made...and then find a rant on some newly uncovered blog to confirm these beliefs.  

This morning, while perusing the endless sprawl of google alerts in my e-mail account, I came across "The Unplastic Life," a blog about—as far as I can tell—limiting plastic use.  The author's most recent post was about the un-supportive recycling culture in Washington, D.C., which reminded me of a piece I wrote this fall about a survey done by Roadside Development to find out what amenities consumers really desired in new apartment/condo units (hint: recycling chutes):

For the legwork, he reached out to Mary Ann Voight, an independent marketing specialist.
Voight drafted a lengthy online survey that asked possible renters and buyers to grade 25 different amenities-from a “pet washing/grooming room” to “loaner bicycles” to “auto care in the garage”-on a 1-to-5 scale...“There were a lot of nice-to-haves. But the have-to-haves came out loud and clear,” she says. She found that “people really, really, really want to have a recycling chute on their floor. They don’t want to have to hold onto their recyclables in their apartment and take them down once a week. That really surprised us,” says Voight.

The developers were going pretty strictly on data to make their decisions. But if they were looking for an accompanying image to go along with their results, this post paints a pretty clear picture of what people have to do to recycle in D.C.:

Recently, there was some hype about the Mayor extending recycling to include plastic wraps/films. That's awesome. I guess that applies to places where you put your own recycling out and the city picks it up. However, many people in DC live in apartments or condos. My apartment building doesn't even recycle plastic! I've asked them about it multiple times, but nothing has changed. This leads to my roommates and me walking our plastic across the street to sneak it into another building's plastic recycling bins. We always forget and hence always have a giant pile of plastic next to our recycling sorter, which makes our kitchen a little messy. But it's better than throwing away the plastic.

The city, however, doesn't do a great job of making recycling easy. Yesterday, I ate at Potbelly's and got a soda in a can. Most Potbelly's restaurants have a recycling bin next to their trash. The one at 17th and L Streets, NW, however, does not. I asked management and then officially complained, but they offered no good excuses. "Ok," I thought. "I'll just recycle it on my way to the mall." BUT I COULD NOT FIND ANY RECYCLING BINS ANYWHERE. "There must be a place to recycle in the Food Court," thought I. BUT NO. I even asked Mall Information where the nearest recycling booth was and they looked at me like I had three heads. 

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