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Climate Ask Umbra

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Dear Umbra,

Our upstairs neighbors don’t recycle and our building’s trash pickup just switched to every two weeks. Now they’re taking over our garbage bin as well as theirs. How do we raise this issue with them? 

— Barely Intact Neighborliness

Dear BIN,

The close proximity of city living tends to foster compromise with our neighbors. In apartments, our shared walls mean we can’t just holler at the top of our lungs at insane hours of the night. We try not to hurl ourselves at other passengers on the subway because they, too, are just trying to use a public resource to get where they have to go. There are occasional exceptions to these mostly unwritten rules, but by and large, people choose to follow them to live peaceably. It’s a testament to the cooperative potential of human nature!

But when it comes to the garbage facilities of a shared apartment complex, somehow the agreed-upon social contract goes entirely to shit. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the average American produces 4.9 pounds of municipal solid waste per day. And with some cities reducing the fr... Read more

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