Multifamily

Top 10 Ways to Celebrate Earth Day with Your Residents

Earth Day is fast approaching. As we walk, run or bicycle towards Friday, April 22, 2022, here are 10 awe-inspiring ideas to make your property more earth-friendly and green.

Today’s residents recognize that our world is changing. In fact, the number of Americans concerned about climate change jumped 10 points from 49% to 59% between 2018 and 20211. Some demographics, such as millennials, are even willing to pay more for sustainable housing. The challenge for properties is finding ways to create fun activities that boost resident engagement and participation without adopting a “preachy” tone.

10 Fun-Filled Ways to Lean into Green or Celebrate Earth Day with Your Residents

1. Host a Resident Swap Meet

Based on the theory that one person’s trash is another person’s treasure, create a swap meet. Instead of simply encouraging your residents to clear out their units, this activity builds community and provides a sense of adventure in exploring the treasures you’ll find from your neighbors’ closets.

Secrets to Success: Select three to five categories that match your residents’ interests. Choose from clothes (divided by women’s, children’s, and men’s clothes), books, kitchen items, or furniture, and designate a space for each class of goods. Employ a simple one-to-one formula whereby if you donate three items, you get three tickets to exchange for “new-to-you” items. Don’t forget to pick an easy mnemonic event date and time such as Saturday Swap Meet or Weed Out Your Closet Wednesday. Bonus Tip: Donate extra apparel items to a textile recycler who can use the fabric in teddy bears, housing insulation, or even car seats.

2. Create a Shred Day

We are all guilty of hanging on to way too much paper. And, if you’ve ever tried to shred your personal files, you’ve quickly realized that your home shredder takes too long, makes a mess, and often jams.

Secrets to Success: Hosting this event the day after Tax Day is a perfect impetus for spring paper cleaning. Select a local business that is eager to grow its business. Further, ask the selected company to create the email with the details of what can and cannot be recycled. Budget approximately $800 per 300 households for your shred day. But remember: this event ensures documents are shredded and recycled properly while cementing resident loyalty.

3. Organize an Earth Day Information Day

If information is power, then share the wealth with residents. Invite local not-for-profits and other businesses to host a table. Make sure to include your local library, save the environment groups, and companies that offer sustainability products.

Secrets to Success: Practice what you preach about recycling by discouraging the use of printed materials. Instead, encourage digital sharing of information by creating easy and free QR codes that can be scanned to access websites and other online resources. You can also promote emerging businesses such as the zero-waste or package-free shops that have refillable “bars”, whereby customers bring their own containers to fill up on liquid soap, laundry detergent, dishwashing soap, and more

4. Carve Out a Sharing Library Area

Encourage the recycling of books and magazines by creating a free exchange area.

Secrets to Success: Take the book idea one step further by creating a monthly book club; be sure to select books that are at least a year old and that are easily available digitally through free library services (Libby and Overdrive). Check out this article for more information on how to get free e-books for your residents.

5. Craft a Craft Day

For all of your artsy residents, host a craft event using recycled materials.

Secrets to Success: A good first step is to ask for resident volunteers to host a sewing, painting, knitting, or sign station, thereby building engagement. Ask each resident to bring one small bag of their clean recycling. Set up stations for the myriad uses of tin cans: pen holders, garden markers, planters, perforated lanterns, windchimes, and organizers. Check out this article for more tin can craft ideas.

6. Set Up a Trash Challenge Reduction

Ed Begley Jr. famously boasted to the Los Angeles Times, “I throw away one glove compartment’s worth of trash every week”2. The truth is that he did it! Encourage your residents to get on board by reducing their garbage every single week.

Secrets to Success: Create excitement about the event by announcing it digitally via your app, newsletter, or on social media. Ask residents to tally the number of trash bags they use every day for seven consecutive days. Then, starting on Earth Day, challenge them to reduce their number of bags by 20%. With the average American producing just under five pounds of garbage per day and landfills overflowing, this challenge could start earth-changing habits. Don’t forget to offer daily tips including new home composting options (if property space allows) and how to reduce food waste – the number one contributor to trash. Have residents self-report and announce an environmentally-friendly gift for the top three winners. For more information on home composting options, check out this article.

7. Host an Earth-Friendly Fact & Fashion Show

Did you know that 10.5 million tons of clothes are sent to the landfill each year? Or that most apparel returns end up in landfills? This is your opportunity to educate residents about the hidden costs of fast fashion (from companies such as Zara, H&M, and Shein) and expose them to companies committed to recycling and sustainability.

Secrets to Success: Search for manufacturers with local stores and a low carbon footprint willing to participate for free such as Allbirds, Rothy’s, Corre, and Guillermo Bravo. Carve out a dressing room to prevent the practice known as “bracketing”, whereby shoppers buy two to three sizes knowing full well they will return one or all of them. Bonus Idea: Ask participating retailers to donate at least 10% of all sales back to an organization such as ecochallenge dot org.

8. Expand Your Recycling Bin Categories

More Americans will recycle if they know it, understand it, and embrace it. Make it easy for them and watch your carbon footprint decline.

Secrets to Success: Set up recycling bins for batteries, printer cartridges, and even wine corks. Many companies will pick up your recycling for free, as they retain the recycling fee. One wine store, for example, encourages cork recycling and earns a hefty profit by charging crafters for wine corks! Total Wine, Office Depot, and Staples also recycle items for free.

9. Share Eco-Friendly Habits

This activity is relatively easy, yet yields success in building community. The goal is to share daily a new eco-friendly habit you’ve discovered.

Secrets to Success: Of course, start the ball rolling by sharing one tip per day, but also encourage residents to share their favorite tips and tricks. Don’t forget to comment and share too. Examples abound from committing to linen napkins instead of paper ones, always keeping a reusable “to-go” cup in the car, swapping plastic wrap for reusable beeswax wrappers, and giving up entirely on disposable plates and utensils.

10. Organize a Clean-Up Event

Every neighborhood benefits by hosting a clean your street, lake, river, hiking trail, or park event.

Secrets to Success: Host the event on a Saturday or Sunday morning with a definitive start and end time. Celebrate your success afterward by hosting a cooking demonstration highlighting how to support local farmers selling in-season produce, how to implement meatless Mondays, and other food-efficient ideas focused on reducing waste. Don’t forget to capture photos, share ideas, and of course, use sustainable serving ware.


The goal of Earth Day is to show how our everyday habits can help or harm our world. Research already shows that smart lockers reduce carbon emissions by lowering individual stops and starts for parcel couriers. Try a few of these ideas by spreading the word and getting your residents involved to show how easily small changes yield big results. Here’s to your success!

Sources:

  1. Guzman, Joseph. “New poll shows Americans are becoming increasingly concerned about climate change.” The Hill, October 26, 2021. https://thehill.com/changing-america/sustainability/climate-change/578504-new-poll-shows-americans-are-becoming.
  2. Kaplan, Tracey. “Actor Crams for Test: Environment: Ed Begley Jr. said a week’s worth of his discards would fit in a glove compartment. Can he make good on his boast, or was he just talking trash?”. Los Angeles Times, August 5, 1994. https://www.latimes.com/archives/la-xpm-1994-08-05-me-23730-story.html.

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