Items labeled "compostable" or "biodegradable" should go in the trash, not in your compost bin.Read More…
Recycling right is more important than recycling more.
Why shouldn’t these go in? Find out.
Bottom line: When in doubt, keep it out. Recycling right is more important than recycling more, because putting the wrong thing in the bin (like plastic bags) can cause big problems (like jamming the machines that sort recycling).
Once your recycling leaves your work or home bin, that jumble of paper, metal and plastic, all has to be sorted. The sorting involves conveyor belts, blowing air, giant magnets, and sorting by hand. See it here:
Vinod Singh explains how recyclables are sorted at Hillsboro's Far West Recycling, and where they go from there.
Once the recycling is sorted into material type – paper, cardboard, metal, etc. – then it’s sold to buyers in the region and around the world to be made into new products.
We often focus on recycling, yet it’s actually at the bottom of the Reduce, Reuse, Recycle hierarchy.
If you want to save energy, water and resources, the best thing you can do is reduce the items you consume (products, packaging) and then reuse the items as many times as possible.
Thanks to our program partner, Metro, who produced the articles and videos referenced here.
Items labeled "compostable" or "biodegradable" should go in the trash, not in your compost bin.
Put it in the trash.
Not in compost. Labels like "compostable" and "biodegradable" are well-intentioned, but they’re not always accurate. Many products labeled "compostable" or "biodegradable" don’t break down at our local composting facilities.
Additionally, these products add little or no nutrients to the compost, and the goal of compost is to provide nutrients to the soil.
Not in recycling. Compostable and biodegradable products should also never be put in recycling, as they cause major problems for the recycling industry.
Focus on the food. To keep our regional composting program running, we need to keep it clean, and that means focusing on the food. And food should be the focus – it’s what gives compost the nutrient-rich punch that makes gardens grow.
A: These items go in your garbage container, not in compost or recycling. This is true both at home and at businesses. Learn more:
*The one exception is BPI-certified compostable bags, which are allowed in business compost.
A: The greenest option is the one that’s used over and over again. Re-useable coffee mugs, water bottles and real dishware and utensils are environmentally better than their throw-away counterparts, even if the throw-away items could be recycled or composted. Just think of all the energy and resources that go into making something that only gets used once!
Encourage your favorite restaurants to switch to re-usable dishware and utensils for eat-in orders. For to-go orders, take away as little packaging and paper as possible. Bring your own coffee mug, and ask your local coffee shop to offer discounts for bringing your own mug.
Questions? Contact us at 503-823-7037 or by email.
The May 31 issue of Willamette Week highlights Sustainability at Work certified businesses.
We’re happy to recognize all* Sustainability at Work certified businesses in a full page ad in the May 31 issue of Willamette Week.
Thank you to our certified businesses for demonstrating a commitment to climate action through efforts in recycling and compost, energy and water efficiencies, sustainable transportation and community engagement.
*All businesses certified before the press deadline of May 1 were included in the ad. Those certified more recently can be found in the Green Business Directory.
It’s free! But it will take some sweat equity — you’ll have to make sure your workplace has its sustainable operations in order.
From bike boxes to the Dutch reach: know your lingo to keep everyone safe on the road.
A sharrow is:
A) A fancy breed of sparrow.
B) A shovel for making rows.
C) A double-arrowed road symbol for low-traffic streets that are great for people biking, walking, skateboarding, and more.
A bike box is:
A) A specially-shaped box for gift-wrapping bicycles.
B) A cardboard carrying device that can be attached to bike racks (only works in rain-free environments like Arizona).
C) A small patch of road at intersections, often painted green, where cyclists wait in front of car traffic at red lights. See one here.
A Dutch reach is:
A) When you reach down to adjust your clogs.
B) When you reach for the bill, to pay your half.
C) After parking, you reach to open your driver's side door with your right hand, thereby naturally looking behind you for cyclists.*
*Why is this called the “Dutch” reach? Because the Dutch bike more than almost anyone else, in big, busy cities, so they’ve learned a thing or two. See the Dutch reach in action.
A) Shopping for a new front door.
B) Standing between the TV and a person trying to watch the TV.
C) Opening a car door into the path of a cyclist.*
*You can avoid door-ing a cyclist by using the Dutch reach (see above).
If you chose all Cs, you've got a high Road IQ!
If you chose As or Bs, you're a creative thinker, but unfortunately not correct. Review the C answers to raise your bike IQ and keep everyone safe on the road (but don't lose that creativity!).
Tips, events and a BYO coffee cup campaign.
Corporate Sustainability Collaborative, a group of green teams from dozens of Portland businesses, has made it easy to get your coworkers thinking about sustainability in April. They’ve organized an event every week in April, filled a calendar with Portland Earth Month happenings, created a downloadable poster to promote Earth Month, and brought back their Reduce Reuse Recaffeinate campaign for the third year.
The Reduce Reuse Recaffeinate campaign, organized by the Corporate Sustainability Collaborative, encourages Portlanders to bring a reusable mug to coffee shops April 1-30.
Find more tips for how to encourage your coworkers to participate.
The Corporate Sustainability Collaborative (formerly PDX Green Teams Unite) is a group of green teams from different Portland organizations who work together to engage employees around sustainability.