Help Association Go Green with Environmental Initiatives
Reducing the waste that a community association and its residents create is one of the most important aspects of responsible and sustainable property management. This means following the “three Rs” of resource conservation: (1) reducing waste by eliminating or preventing as much waste as possible; (2) reusing or repurposing materials that can be used again when possible; and (3) recycling everything that is recyclable to allow waste materials to be made into other useful materials rather than go into a landfill (and choosing products that contain recycled content when available).
There are some ways your community association staff, members, and other residents can reduce waste. The first step in reducing waste is to prevent waste from being created at all. So much of what we buy is disposable and comes in unnecessary packaging, including many of our cleaning supplies. You can help prevent this kind of waste by making choices and changes about the purchasing and maintenance at your community to: (1) maximize the useful life of materials and equipment; (2) include reusable, recycled, and recyclable items rather than disposable items; and (3) use less packaging. Doing this helps conserve the resources and energy and reduce pollution associated with producing the items and their packaging, and transporting them to your community. In the long run, this can also save you money over time by reducing the cost of rebuying many of the same products and equipment over and over, even if better or sustainably made or recycled products sometimes cost more.
Prevent or reuse waste at your community by:
- Buying well-made, durable items and equipment that don’t need to be replaced often
- Following preventive maintenance of community equipment and materials to extend their useful life
- Buying reusable items like rechargeable batteries and reusable cleaning supplies
- Buying cleaning supplies, cleaners, and other items in bulk to reduce packaging, and use concentrates to mix with water to fill up with labeled bottles for housekeepers and maintenance staff
- Using or buying items that are recycled or contain recycled materials, such as paper, furniture, landscape edging, lumber and construction materials, paints, containers and bottles, etc.
- Using or buying items that are recyclable in your community
- Donating unwanted bedding and furniture, appliances, and unused paint to nonprofits for reuse
- Inviting a local group that recycles clothing to accept and collect donations onsite
- Encouraging residents to reuse rather than throw out plastic bags, which are rarely recyclable
- Converting wood waste to mulch
- Reusing plastic garden pots, rocks, and old plantings
And remember to encourage residents to do their part by being environmentally conscious on their own time.
For more ways to help your association be green and a Model Agreement that you can adapt and use in your community rules to address your community’s recycling program, see “How to Establish a Waste Reduction & Recycling Program,” available to subscribers here.