Whether you’re a well-meaning “wish-cycler” or an avid recycling guru, we’ve got ten tips to help you hone your recycling knowledge and keep Portland green.
1. Recycle, don’t “wish-cycle”
It’s easy to fall into the pits of “wish-cycling,” especially as an optimistic Portlander who’s mindful about the environment. While you might wish that clam shell-shaped takeout container was recyclable, simply wishing it does not make it true. Not sure what’s recyclable and what’s not? Tip #2 might help.
2. Know your materials and know them well
Paper, cardboard, plastic, and glass can all be recycled curbside, but some of these materials can be a little tricky.
Wet strength cardboard (i.e. cardboard that has a protective coating against water penetration) is NOT recyclable. So when you’re considering whether or not to throw a frozen pizza package in the recycle bin, you can aim straight for the trash. Most frozen packaging is made to resist water. An easy trick is to soak a portion of paper packaging in water. If it dissolves, it’s recyclable!
Metal lids and can tops? Recyclable! Plastic lids of any kind are for the trash.
3. Swing to the beat of the three R’s: Reduce. Reuse. Recycle.
If you’re not too happy about that frozen pizza packaging winding up in the garbage, consider purchasing alternative items that can be recycled instead. Finding ways to reduce how much you throw away is all part of the movement toward a greener and more sustainable way of life. And be creative; give those materials and packaging you might plan to throw away a second life through reuse.
4. Recycle plastic bags
Oregon just passed a single-use plastic bag ban this year, but there might be a few plastic bags from yesteryear still floating around your home. While you can’t recycle them with the rest of curbside materials – they cause tangles that disrupt the machines used to process our recyclables – you can take them to your neighborhood store or find a plastic bag recycling center near you.
Got a 1984 Apple Macintosh taking up space in your garage? You can recycle your outdated and/or unusable electronics at several facilities around Portland. Whether it’s an appliance at home or a whole fleet of obsolete equipment, Metro has a place for them.
Don’t just ditch your unwanted goods. If they’re still in good condition, consider donating them to your local Habitat for Humanity ReStore. Open 10-6 seven days a week, the ReStores accept gently used home goods, appliances, building materials, unused paint, and the Gresham location even takes clothes! Find the nearest location.
Food scraps and yard waste make up 28 percent of what we throw away. By keeping unnecessary materials out of landfills, compost enriches soil, reduces dependence of fertilizer, lowers our carbon footprint, and helps plants grow. Learn more about how you can contribute to this vital practice today.
8. Upcycle it
There are so many ways to reimagine new uses for old stuff. Used corkscrews become succulent planters, worn jeans can be transformed into a patchwork rug, the list goes on! Plus, Pinterest has a ton of ideas to get your creativity flowing. Repurposing not only gives household good another life, it also helps the environment – what’s cooler than that?
9. Follow @recycleornot on Instagram
If you’re ever in a bind about what can be recycled, RecycleOrNot has all the answers. Just snap a shot of your recycling question and watch the answer appear on your newsfeed. It’s too easy.
10. Pass this knowledge along
Moving toward a more green way of life is only possible if more people contribute their efforts. Spread your knowledge of the recycling practices you’ve learned here today and help make our city more sustainable.