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Main Decor Garbage in, garbage out

Garbage in, garbage out

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Written by Margaret Foley   
Monday, June 25, 2012

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There's always room for improvement when it comes to reducing waste.

HOUSEHOLD WASTE

GL2012 GarbageInGarbageOut02While trash pickup in many areas of Oregon includes some combination of yard debris, recycling and composting, slightly shifting how you approach buying and using products in your daily life can improve recycling rates. “People really need to be thinking about thoughtful consumption,” says Lauren Norris, the program coordinator for Metro’s Master Recycler Program and the sustainable outreach manager for the city of Portland. “It’s not enough to be thinking about minimizing what you use.” Norris says consumers need to think about the entire consumption span of the product to improve recycling habits. “People spend more time thinking about how they’ll recycle the product rather than asking whether or not there are things they can avoid purchasing in the first place,” she says. She recommends that if you need to buy something, ask yourself some questions at the point of purchase: Is this made locally? Is it durable and something you can get a lot of use out of or pass on? How much of it are you really going to use? Is there an alternative with less packaging? “Actions such as recycling and composting are important, but they also cost money and use energy and resources, which we can work to minimize,” she says. If you’re not certain something can be recycled, make time to check before putting it into a bin. It’s worth a little effort.

  • To become a more effective recycler, consider taking the Master Recycler course. Master Recyclers take an eight-week course where they learn about recycling processes, thoughtful consumption and green building. Master Recyclers then volunteer 30 hours in their communities to help others learn to become better recyclers. Go to masterrecycler.org to find out about programs near you.
  • If you have an item and you’re not sure where to recycle it, go to Earth911.org, which provides recycling options for a wide range of household items. In the Portland Metro area, go to the Find a Recycler page at oregonmetro.gov.