Isla Vista residents ride their bikes to campus, grow gardens in small backyards and alleys, and regularly participate in beach cleanups, but most of them don’t recycle.
Marborg Industries Operations Manager Derek Carlson said Marborg provides recycling for 400 buildings, roughly 40 percent of Isla Vista. Two years ago Marborg began the large-scale recycling program that includes the option of co-mingling, placing all recyclable materials together in one container, but service must be requested and approved by landowners.
“We get calls from tenants requesting recycling, but it’s really up to the property owner because they are paying the bills,” Carlson said. “Recycling has increased and it’s still increasing, but slowly.”
Property managers said some owners are hesitant to provide the service even though more tenants are requesting it.
Ronald L. Wolfe and Associates, Inc. manages 60 buildings in Isla Vista and provides recycling for 70 percent. Property Supervisor Chris Mercier said since Marborg began offering larger containers and co-mingling recycling, more landowners have agreed to provide recycling. Once the landowners agree, the property managers can authorize service.
“I have seen a sizable increase in number of residents who recycle, as well as an increase in the demand for recycling service,” Mercier said.
One representative from Island View Properties said although the company owns 18 buildings in Isla Vista, it does not provide recycling because the issue “has never been brought to our attention.” She said Island View would be willing to consider it in the future.
“It’s a money issue,” said Jodi Rundle, the Santa Barbara County program specialist. “I don’t think property managers are sure they can save. They might not be able to reduce the trash service enough.”
Marborg provides a 95-gallon recycling container for $10 per month and the basic trash service of two containers for $32.50 per month.
Environmental Affairs Board member Ed France said tenants should encourage their landowners to reduce the number of trash containers and add a recycling container.
“The only time a tenant has power is right before they sign the lease,” France said. “Landlords tend to be lazy about things and anything they have to do they drag their heels.”
EAB members placed informational flyers around Isla Vista last month and went door-to-door to speak with tenants about encouraging their landowners to provide recycling.
“We’ve run campaigns with student groups who get involved and every time we do that we increase [the number of buildings that recycle] 5 percent,” Carlson said.
I.V. still has work to do to catch up to college communities in larger metropolitan areas. The Public Works Department of the city of Berkeley funds and provides free curbside recycling for every building in the city by using taxes and revenues from garbage collection to pay for the containers and pickup.
“For some reason people here really support recycling,” said Berkeley’s Solid Waste Management Commissioner Howard Chong. “There’s a strong support for being concerned about the environment. People are provided the opportunity to be excited about recycling because it is free.”
France said Isla Vista residents need to keep a positive attitude about environmental issues.
“Isla Vista is such an amazing community,” he said. “It could have so much idealism and be an example for the rest to follow.”