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Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

Tips to reduce, reuse, recycle and compost at home.
Residents using curbside recycling

Reduce and reuse first

Making a new product requires a lot of materials and energy. That’s because raw materials must be taken from the earth, and the product must be made and then transported to wherever it will be sold. By the time we purchase a product, most of its environmental impact has already occurred. As a result, waste reduction and reuse are the most effective ways you can save natural resources, protect the environment and save money.

Switch up your habits

The average person in Oregon generates more than seven pounds of trash per day. You can reduce your waste with some of these simple strategies:

  • Keep reusable shopping bags in the car or by the door to remind you to use them on grocery runs.
  • Opt out of junk mail, catalogs and the phone book.
  • Celebrate holidays and birthdays by wrapping presents with reusable materials – like scarves or tote bags – or by giving gifts like concert tickets or museum passes instead of stuff.
  • Avoid packaging whenever possible. Buy in bulk using your own containers and choose brands with minimal packaging.
  • Order drinks often? Carry a reusable mug with you. Paper coffee cups are not recyclable.
  • Avoid buying bottled water: Oregon has some of the cleanest and healthiest tap water in the country.

Save your food from going to waste

The average U.S. household throws away over 20 percent of all food they purchase. That’s like going to the store, buying five bags and just leaving one in the parking lot.

Produce in shopping bag

When you make small shifts in how you shop, prepare and store food, you can waste less, save money and conserve the valuable resources associated with food production. Take the Eat Smart, Waste Less Challenge and get free tools and tips to help reduce wasted food!

Why recycle?

The items we use and consume every day have a direct impact on our environment and our communities. That’s why it is everyone’s responsibility to consider what happens to those things once we’re done using them.

In Oregon, we have a strong recycling ethic. By recycling right, we’re able to reduce the amount of energy and resources required to make new products, decrease pollution, and create jobs. 1.4 million tons of material collected in Oregon was recycled in 2016, which has environmental benefits equivalent to taking 690,000 cars off the road!

What goes in my recycling bin?

Recycling Guide

In Washington County, your recycling bin is where you put the following materials:

  • Paper: Flattened cardboard, envelopes, notebooks, sheets, etc.
  • Metal: Cans, small metal parts, and empty aerosol cans and all rinsed.
  • Plastic: Only plastic bottles and containers such as yogurt, over 6 ounces, all rinsed.

A separate bin is provided for glass:

  • Glass: bottles and jars (no dishware, caps, corks or lids).

In many areas of the county, you can now add household batteries to your glass recycling bin in a quart-sized, zip-sealed bag. Use the Garbage and Recycling Day tool to find out if this is available where you live. 

Check out our Recycling Guide for a more detailed list of what can and cannot go in your recycling bin:

Recycling Guide (English) (PDF 1011.03 KB)
Recycling Guide (Spanish) (PDF 1013.13 KB)

Live in an apartment? You have the right to adequate recycling and garbage service – and clearly labeled containers. Your property manager is also responsible for providing recycling information at the time of move-in and educating all residents annually. Learn more about multifamily recycling standards.

Does your community need support? Contact us! We provide property managers free technical assistance, educational materials, posters, signs and stickers. We also provide free recycling bags for residents to bring their recyclables to collection areas.

Still have questions?

  • You can use our handy What to Recycle and Where tool 24/7 to look up a specific item and find out if it can be recycled or needs to go in the trash.
  • Download the Garbage & Recycling Day app to check directly from your smartphone if something can be recycled or what is the best alternative.
  • You can call us at 503-846-3605
  • Send an email to [email protected].

Composting works!

Composting yard debris.

Composting takes organic waste such as yard debris and food scraps and turns it into a valuable, nutrient-rich material that improves the health of our natural environment and soils. There are a few options for how you can participate in this beneficial process.

  • If you have yard debris service in Washington County, you can include all your grass clippings, leaves, plants, weeds and small branches to be picked up by your service provider on your regular pickup day.
  • To compost yard waste and food scraps in your own backyard, our partners at Metro offer a comprehensive guide to help you begin your composting journey. For more information, contact us at 503-846-3605 or [email protected].
  • If you live in a city included in the list below, you may have access to curbside food scraps collection, combined with your yard debris pickup. Click on your city's link to learn more: