The Recyclists How Managers Can Help Communities Go Green

When it comes to how co-op and condo communities navigate the race to address climate change, a goal like switching to 100 percent renewable energy may seem too tall an order. On the other hand, simply recycling household glass, paper, and plastic products is low-hanging fruit. Even so — and with landfills brimming with reusable products despite plenty of local ordinances designed to encourage recycling — getting residents to actually sort their trash for collection can feel like an uphill battle for boards and managers. 

In a condo or homeowners’ association, a gentle push in the right direction can sometimes come from a property manager who’s particularly committed to reducing his or her client communities’ environmental impact. The Cooperator spoke with a handful of managers in various markets who have encouraged or facilitated an array of eco-friendly programs in their associations to help spread the message of recycling.

The Green Apple

Victor Berrios formerly managed a 620-unit co-op in the Bronx, and turned a building that once met the idea of recycling with a collective shrug into a lean, mean, green-conscious machine.

TC: What was the situation at the property like when you originally took the reins?

VB: Come recycling day, I’d see a porter put out a single bag of bottles and cans on the curb. We put out more than that at my house, and it’s just me, my wife, and two kids. So I wound up reaching out to a not-for-profit called GrowNYC. They assist with recycling efforts, and promote and teach conservation. We held classes for building staff, and during open shareholder meetings. For the latter, we’d have giveaways to encourage participation. You have to incentivize these things.”


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  • At my 12-unit coop building recycling is an obscure concept for the majority of the residents. When I worked the trash there I had to sort out what people didn’t want to sort out, which caused me to do additional work I wasn’t paid to do, which in turn forced me to cut in other work, in order to make up for it. I’ve told the people what they needed to do, but they always insisted, they would employ scammers arguments and say things like “Why I need to recycle if nobody else recycles?” or say “sure. ok”, but continue mixing everything up. The majority of the people who don’t want to follow the recycling rules, and don’t care about the environment in general, also want to have children. For what, I ask myself, so that their children may inherit the filth? The current management doesn’t sort out what the residents mix and pretends to be following the recycling rules. Investors, instead of providing real benefits, like providing a working a/c, working windows, or handle their unit’s plumbing needs, provide a cheap apparent benefit to their sub-tenants by saying “at this building you have the luxury benefit of not having to follow the recycling rules, so be happy” to entice the prospective sub-tenants to rent the units. The sanitation department cannot make it to inspect what is happening when you report it. Enforcement is desperately needed at this co-op.