My first green action

I just set up recycling for the tenants. It will take a bit of recycling, though, to make up for the 3 new plastic bins I bought. I got one used at Bishop’s Attic, but I needed a space-miserly, easy to use, big system for the common area, so I ended up buying 3 stackable, lidded, 18 gallon bins from Fred Meyers for the cans, glass, and plastic. The used bin is for mixed paper. I cut holes in the lids for easy can placement, and labeled them with a gold paint pen. I meant to take a picture, but forgot the camera, so check back later and I’ll add it. Freddy’s had 98% recycled plastic bins, but not in the “usable when stacked” form, so I had to get the bad ones. And I’ve been using a big ‘ol work truck to move and get set up, so there’s some more fossil fuel down the drain, but I guess there is always some set-up cost to these things. I will not obsess 🙂 It is a beautiful set up, I think! And pretty novel for this city, to have recycling provided at an apartment. Also, I set out some compact fluorescents for people to change out their incandescents with. I need to purchase some of the spiffy new 60watt equivalent LED’s too. They are expensive, but very handy for buildings with old circuits. The LED lights can tolerate that, unlike the fluorescents. Plus the LEDs put up with cold temps (outdoors or in fridges) and are virtually unbreakable. And last forever. And no mercury.

It’s weird, I’m still feeling like a trespasser when I enter the property. I think it’ll help when we’re all moved in. I have a hard time changing around things, because it doesn’t feel like mine. I’m slowly getting over that. I can’t believe I own a whole building!!


8 responses to “My first green action

  1. Are you going to require the tenants to recycle, or are you just providing it as an option? If the tenants don’t want it, it might be hard to get them to cooperate. Hopefully not though. Have you talked to them about it yet?

    Also, which LED bulbs do you like (and where do you get them)? I’ve been thinking about getting one or a couple from just to test them out.

  2. I’m bad at making people do stuff, so right now it is just an option. I have provided adequate but minimal garbage cans, and did ask them in writing (with my change in landlord notice) to please separate out their recycling. So far no complaints. I’ll see how effective it is when I take the garbage to the curb next week. The downstairs tenants had their own recycling, so I’m sure they’ll be pleased to have someone else take it to the center.

    I bought 2 led bulbs from ccrane. I got the cc vivid and vivid plus. Both are not enough for room lighting. I tried various options, and eventually the vivid ended up in my fridge, and the plus on the front porch (just enough light to find a key – not much more). Both are very blue-white – not warm – light. They are about to sell a 60 watt replacement called the geobulb (it is to have various color options including warm lighting). It looks good to me. Another high-lumens bulb I saw used more wattage and had an active cooling system (read – computer-like fan – possibly a part to break?). I don’t know if this one will too. I want to try the geobulb – it is $100, but lasts for, like, 10 years at 8 hours a day. I also want to use the strip-led under counter lighting in the kitchen if light is as big an issue as in my current apartment. They are great for task lighting at close range.
    I just emailed ccrane to see if LED lights work in motion detector/photocell fixtures. Currently the security lighting outside is a big CFL on 24/7. I want to put in a motion sensing/ dusk to dawn fixture, but those fixtures that do both usually just work with incandescents. You can buy either motion or photocells that take CFLs but no one mentions if LED’s are an issue too. I haven’t pinpointed exactly what the issue is – the low wattage, or sensitivity to something???

  3. Hmm. We have a light and motion sensing light outside our garage (illuminating our home built from galvanized steel pipes bike racks for 6) that seems to be working fine with CFL spotlights. We just assumed it would work. Is there some issue with long term use?

    The newest generation of LED lights (like, new this year) seems to use high powered LEDs at 1-3W/LED in arrays of up to a dozen, embedded within a solid aluminum housing that also acts as a heatsink/radiator. 10-15W bulbs seem to be running around $60, and putting out up to 500 lumens, which is about half the light put out by a comparable wattage CFL (but with a much, much longer lifetime and no mercury). They also seem to come in warm white and “daylight” (cooler, bluer) white. Is there a particular reason you chose ?

    I suspect that, as consumer LED lighting improves and the costs come down, these relatively early attempts will be supplanted by much brighter and higher efficiency models, making their “infinite” lifespans a little bit moot, since many people will probably prefer to upgrade to the 5 watt 1500 lumens model from the 15 watt 500 lumens model down the road. Will be interesting to see though. I might get one just for comparison.

    In a related topic, Pasadena just gave every single utility customer $75 worth of CFL bulbs, and is currently allowing its “integrated resource plan” for the next 30 years to undergo review: if you’re at all interested to see what’s up down here.

  4. Apparently many systems will lower the life span (perhaps dramatically) of CFL’s. Some systems are compatible though, especially, apparently, older mechanically based ones – this is all based on an afternoons’ websearch – so room for error! I just don’t want to blow a $100 LED bulb in one! CFLs often don’t like our -30 degree temps, even outdoor ones.

    Yes, I’ve seen the 500 lumen range LEDs, and am sorta interested. The cutting edge, like out-this-month ones are even higher lumens (around 800 – 900) and use less than 13 watts. The geobulb is supposed to be 800 lumens at less than 8 watts. No particular reason to prefer ccrane. I agree with the assessment that long life span might be negated by rapid improvements, thus I’m not whole-sale switching over every bulb, but I want to support the industry and I have had a heck of a time with breaking CFLs or burning them out due to bad bulbs or bad circuits – I have about 10 that I need to bring in to recycle that blew out within 6 months of placing in fixtures – yes – cheap costco ones, but they were energy star labeled.

    Also, LED bulbs are more efficient per lumen at the 12 volt level, so I’d like to get a solar panel or two (I have loaned the one I did buy to a good friend who lives off grid) and a small battery someday and put a couple of LED lights on that circuit. Yes, not the most cost effective greening step!

    Our electric company also gave out CFLs. I didn’t pick any up since I was maxed out. Should have stored for (this) future!

    I like the integrated resource plan, and the ability to buy green power! We are behind the times up here, but at least no coal or nuclear generation in Anchorage (yet). There is exciting potential for wind, geothermal, and responsible hydro additions – hopefully it happens! Some of our electric companies drag their feet too much. One problem is that Alaska’s railbelt is a small system with lots of separate utilities – makes it hard to get things done sometimes.

  5. The Pasadena green power option as it stands now is actually a boondoggle from my point of view, because there’s no feedback mechanism, i.e. my choice to pay more for green power doesn’t actually create an incentive for the city to buy more green power. They’re stuck at 5% because supply is constrained in the market – the investor owned utilities are required to buy green power under the renewable portfolio standards, but the municipal utilities aren’t, so ultimately, the municipal utilities get outbid. Bummer. But anyways, we’ll see what happens going forward.

  6. I just got this email when I asked about compatibility of LED bulbs with photocells etc. Sigh…I will have to find a CFL compatible device and hope for the best!:

    Dear Michelle,

    Thank you for taking the time to contact our company. The problem is so many of the dimmer switches, motion sensors, and photocells are designed to specifically work with incandescent bulbs. The designers of this equipment need newer designs to work with lower energy lighting sources as this is the direction lighting is taking and outdated technology is not really compatible. In summary, no the GeoBulb will not work with the above type products.

    If you have additional questions or we can be of further assistance please email or call our toll free number.

    John Wilder
    Customer Support Supervisor
    C. Crane Company, Inc.

  7. By reading the last posts, I think I have single handedly made up for my lack of science/engineering classes since freshman year of college (but who are we kidding, that was natsci anyhow). I feel like you should be able to contact Ed Bagley Jr. and get him to go up to AK (hmm, would he take his prius?) and film an episode of his show (is it still on?)– and get him to buy you some bulbs for your clients.

    RE: encouraging people to recycle– when I first started SAIC no one recycled, so I put a box next to my desk and encouraged people to do it (and dug through the garbage to pull out cans and bottles when they didn’t– I think I made them feel bad…didn’t bother me any though) by the time I left the box had become a regular bin and moved to the kitchen area. I also set up boxes every time we had a conference and again I made no secret that I would pick out as many cans from the garbage as possible (not so tricky with office garbage– kitchen garbage might have given me pause)– anyhow, I wound up wearing off on people. Interestingly, I also won a small award for my efforts– imagine my chagrin when I discovered for all that work that the person who finally got and installed a duplex tray for the printer– something I’d been requesting, but didn’t know how to do– actually did more for the environment than I did given the office consumption of paper.
    Guess my point is that it is a habit that people get in and if you make it easy, it shouldn’t be hard to “make” people do it.

  8. Good for you, Lara! I agree – forming the habit is the way to do it. My office has recycling set up, and everybody uses it. I want to pull stuff out of my home garbage bins, but there are cats in the unit, and I don’t have composting set up yet for kitchen wastes, so the garbage is pretty nasty! I think recycling will happen because the bins are there, even if it isn’t 100% of the time or what could be recycled.

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