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3 Steps to Recycling When You Live in an Apartment

October 8, 2021

If it takes too many steps, many people won’t do it; they won’t buy, try, ask, listen, read, or recycle. Literally, apartment buildings can have lots of steps and make it a major pain to drag one more thing down the stairs, but we know that the stakes are high on this one. 

Recycling is a global effort, but only 13% of the 2.12 billion tons of waste on this planet is recycled. How can we change this? There’s a famous adage that ‘one person cannot do everything, but everyone can do something,’ and it certainly applies here. 

There are just three steps to begin recycling, and recycling in apartment living is often an added layer of difficulty. Like any good plan of action, and saving the planet is no light feat, you need some preparation. 

Step 1: Research 

Start with a phone call or email to your property manager asking what services they provide or know of for recycling. It is not typical for property management companies to offer this service, so if you find one, celebrate! That’s less work for you, but since this is rare, be prepared for the likelihood that you’ll need to do a little more research. 

Go to to search in your area for recycling centers. Some areas have streamlined services that have low monthly costs, provide the bags or bins, and even sift and separate the recyclables for you. You will probably find, though, that you will need to transport your recycling to a nearby center, so it is a good idea to call there and ask about their procedure. 

This doesn’t have to be a lonely endeavor. Ask your property manager if they could help with getting you in touch with other renters in your complex that are interested in recycling. This could turn into a recycling rideshare, and you can rotate trips to the recycling center, saving time, gas, and money. 

Step 2: Prepare  

Designate an area for recyclables. Look to closet space, empty drawers, or, if there is room, floor or counter space next to the trash can. Add a reusable bag or box, and print some signs to hang on or near the receptacles. Keep at least one trash can for the trash that cannot be recycled, and, to keep your apartment from stinking to high-heaven, you should rinse out your recyclables before storing them. 

Develop a routine on paper, preferably with your neighbors, on taking the recyclables to the center, and make that an appointment in your phone that you keep. This will need to involve a transportation plan- if you don’t have a vehicle, then public transportation or a taxi, Uber, or Lyft may be an option. 

If you are using your own vehicle, you may want to line the trunk or floorboard with some plastic or waterproof fabric, just to be sure you don’t have any sneaky leaks from the recyclables. 

Step 3: Save Mother Earth 

Actually getting the recyclables to the recycling center is the trick. You could have all the best research and have created the greatest plan, but when it comes down to it, picking it up and putting one foot in front of the other is the task. Keep your appointment! Encourage others to do so, too. 

You can lead and inspire others to reduce, reuse, and recycle, as well. Reaching out to your apartment’s management company is the way to get the ball rolling. Who knows? Maybe you will be the renter who inspires your complex to adopt recycling services. 

Confucius asserted that ‘the man who moves a mountain, begins by carrying away small stones.’ Take that first step. Let’s move mountains of trash.