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The holidays often bring more food, fun and festivities — and all of the waste that can go along with those things. This year, you have a new place to scrape your holiday plates. Now you can add food scraps — from meat to bones to dairy — along with yard debris to your green roll cart for weekly pickup.
Not only will putting leftovers in your green roll cart keep your Thanksgiving turkey and holiday ham scraps out of the landfill, it will turn them into nutrient-rich compost to nourish yards and gardens. Compost helps plants grow, prevents erosion, helps soil retain water and blocks disease and weeds. Locally, food scraps account for almost 30,000 tons of unnecessary garbage every year, which can now be put to better use as compost to improve the health of our soils and gardens.
Did you know that even your holiday tree can be composted? You can put a whole tree on the curb on your collection day for a fee, or you can cut the trunk and branches into pieces less than 36 inches long and four inches in diameter and include them in your green cart for no additional charge.
"Our family was surprised to learn how much of our holiday waste is actually compostable," said Meg Matsushima, resident of the Roseway neighborhood and participant in the pilot program. "Leftover cookies, fruitcake and even the gingerbread house can go right into the green roll cart along with napkins and paper towels used while cooking."
As you plan your holiday meals and family gatherings, consider these easy ways to reduce waste and make composting food scraps easy for your guests:
Put recycling and food scrap containers in plain sight to help guests easily see and use them.
Invite your friends and family to bring along food containers so they can take home leftovers.
Buy inexpensive, durable dishes that you can load into the dishwasher and box up until your next party instead of using throwaway plastic or paper platters, plates and cups.
Reduce garbage by preparing a dish with fresh, local ingredients that you can buy without packaging, like apples, pears or hazelnuts.
If you still find that you have more garbage than usual this holiday season, you have the option to set out an extra bag or can of garbage on your pickup day for a one-time fee of $5.
Some bulky packaging materials — like Styrofoam or packing peanuts — can't be recycled in your blue cart, but they can be recycled through Metro. Call 503-234-3000 or visit www.oregonmetro.gov/findarecycler to find out where you can take these items to keep them out of your garbage container and out of the landfill.
Finally, there will be no changes to your collection schedule due to holidays this season. If you have questions about your schedule, you can find it online anytime at www.portlandonline.com/bps/eschedule.
Still have questions? Here are three easy ways to get help: