Green Neighbors Program

The Clark County Green Neighbors Program was developed and is maintained by Clark County Solid Waste and Environmental Outreach to assist citizens with developing more sustainable lifestyles and building a strong environmental community in Clark County. Solid waste regional planning and programs are a cooperative effort of Battle Ground, Camas, Clark County, La Center, Ridgefield, Vancouver, Washougal, and Yacolt. Funding for this project provided by a grant from the Washington State Department of Ecology.

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In offering information on the Web, Clark County seeks to balance our requirement for public access with the privacy needs of individual citizens. Information that appears on the Clark County Web site is part of the public record. By law, it is available for public access, whether by telephone request, visiting county offices, or through other means.

This site contains links to other websites. Clark County is not responsible for the privacy practices or the content, accuracy or opinions expressed on such websites, and such websites are not investigated, monitored or checked by us for accuracy or completeness. Inclusion of any linked website on our site does not imply approval or endorsement of the linked website by us.

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  • Household Hazardous Waste

    Virtually every home contains products that are potentially hazardous if misused or disposed of improperly. Common hazardous products include pesticides, paints, solvents, batteries, thinners, motor oil, antifreeze, and household cleaners. It’s important to know how to handle, store, and purchase these materials to protect the safety and well-being of your family, community and the environment. You should never pour hazardous wastes down the drain, into the stormdrain, or place it in the garbage.


    Related articles: Unwanted Medication Disposal | Hazardous Waste Assessment

  • Pesticide labels

    How To Read a Pesticide Label

    The labeling of pesticides is more complicated than most other chemical products. This is necessary because many pesticides are more toxic than other chemicals found around the home. Warnings, use specifications, and directions must be much more complete and detailed.

    You can tell the toxicity of a pesticide by looking at the signal word on the label. Pesticides are classified into Toxicity Categories I – IV (Category I is the most toxic, IV the least toxic). The signal words and the precautionary statements required on the label are different for each category. The following Toxicity Rating Scale indicates the requirements for pesticide labels.

    Signal Words on Pesticides

    Category If the label has this signal word... This is how toxic the product is (approximate amount needed kill an average person).

    • Highly Toxic DANGER, POISON – A few drops to one teaspoon
    • Moderately Toxic WARNING – One teaspoon to one ounce
    • Slightly Toxic CAUTION – Over one ounce
    • Not Toxic – Not Required
    If a product label does not provide ingredients or adequate instructions on how to safely use the product, then you should consider buying a product that does list this basic information. You can also contact the manufacturer, distributor, or retailer and request a copy of the Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) for that product. An MSDS lists the ingredients in a hazardous product, its manufacturer, its hazards to safety and health, and precautions to follow when using it.
  • Use it safely

    Safety guidelines

    • Follow the directions on the label.
    • Use proper safety equipment.
    • Have a working fire extinguisher available.
    • Wear protective clothing as necessary.
    • Post emergency numbers near your telephone.
    • Leave products in their original container with labels intact and visible.
    • Do not mix products unless directed to do so by the label’s directions.
    • Use only what is needed. Using twice as much product does not mean twice the desired results.
    • If pregnant, avoid any potential exposure to toxic chemicals. Many toxic products have not been tested for their effects on unborn children.
    • Avoid wearing soft contact lenses. They can absorb product vapors and damage your eyes.
    • Use products in well-ventilated areas. Work outdoors whenever possible. If working indoors, open windows and use an exhaust fan to blow the air outside rather than re-circulating it indoors. If you feel dizzy or nauseous, take a break and go outside.
    • Do not eat, drink, or smoke while using hazardous products. Traces of hazardous chemicals can be carried from hand to mouth. Smoking can also start a fire if the product is flammable.
    • Clean up after using hazardous products.
    • Seal products and refasten all childproof caps.
    • Do not leave hazardous products unattended.

    Chemical Exposure

    The effects of chemicals on human health and the environment depend on the dose, concentration, duration and frequency, and route of exposure. People have different reactions to chemicals, some reacting to small doses and concentrations, while others require a larger dose or concentration to react.

    Hazardous materials may enter the body through:

    • Ingestion: To prevent accidental ingestion of a hazardous material, avoid putting anything in your mouth while working with hazardous materials. Always keep food, drinks, or other items that could come into contact with your mouth (e.g., cigarettes) away from the work area to avoid contamination. Always wash your hands before handling food or touching your face or eyes. Never place hazardous materials in food or beverage containers.
    • Inhalation: To ensure adequate ventilation, work outside whenever possible. If you must work inside, use a fan to direct air away from the work area and towards an open window. Always ensure that you have adequate ventilation. If you can smell the hazardous material you are working with, you might need to use a mask or respirator for adequate protection. Be aware that not all hazardous chemicals have an odor (e.g., carbon monoxide, methyl alcohol).
    • Absorption: Hazardous material can enter your body from contact with your skin or other exposed body surfaces. Avoid splashing and wear protective clothing to protect yourself.

    Preventing Accidents

    There are two approaches to eliminating accidents:

    • Eliminate unsafe conditions. Work areas and equipment should be examined to determine if any unsafe conditions (e.g., frayed electrical wires, improper ventilation or lighting, leaking containers of hazardous material) exist. Any unsafe condition should be corrected before beginning work in the area.
    • Reduce unsafe acts. Working in a safe environment requires you to examine those actions you control while being aware of those situations beyond your control. Care must be taken to ensure that any actions taken to protect or reduce accidents in one area do not cause or set up the conditions for accidents in some other area.

    Protect Yourself with the Proper Equipment

    • Clothing: To avoid direct contact of chemicals with your skin, choose clothing that both covers bare skin and provides a barrier for protection against contact.
    • Ear protection: Ear plugs or ear muffs to protect your ears from high volume noise.
    • Eye Protection: Select goggles or safety glasses to prevent liquids or fumes from getting into your eyes.
    • Foot: Boots made of PVC or heavy rubber will protect again chemical spills.
    • Hand: Gloves made of the proper material to protect against the type of chemical you are using. Consult a salesperson at your local hardware store.
    • Respiratory: Wearing a face mask or using a respirator can help prevent against inhaling fumes.

    Fire Hazards

    When working with hazardous products, always read and follow the directions on the label. Do not mix products unless instructed to do so by the directions on the label. To prevent fumes from escaping, keep all containers closed when working with the hazardous material.

    If the product is flammable and/or explosive, use and store away from any sources of heat, flames, sparks, or ignitions. Gas pilot lights, hot water tanks, lit cigarettes and cigars, light switches, and garage door openers can all be ignition sources. Fuel, oxygen, and heat are required for combustion to occur. If you remove any of these three elements a fire can be extinguished.

    Place all solvent covered rags in a sealed container after use and before cleaning. If you clean them yourself, wash the rags separately in a washing machine with a full water level of hot water and detergent. Rinse the washing machine thoroughly after cleaning the rags. Line dry the rags rather than using a dryer; the high heat of a dryer can ignite any flammable vapors remaining in the rags.

    Keep a working fire extinguisher readily available in your home and work area. Make sure the extinguisher you have is appropriate for the fire you are attempting to extinguish.

  • What’s a hazardous product?

    How to identify hazardous products

    Hazardous products such as those mentioned above have the potential to harm people, pets, and wildlife. To identify potentially hazardous products, look for words on the product label such as poison, danger, warning, caution, or flammable. Hazardous products should be taken to special collection facilities for disposal. They should never be thrown in the trash because they can pose threats to public health and the environment. These threats vary according to specific properties of the product.

    Things To Consider When Purchasing Products

    • Before purchasing a product, read the label to get an indication of its properties. Be aware that the word “non-toxic” is an advertising word and has no federal regulatory definition.
    • Choose products with child resistant packaging.
    • Avoid aerosol products when possible. Aerosols disperse substances that can be inhaled deeply into the lungs and absorbed into the bloodstream.
    • Use non-hazardous or less-hazardous alternative products and recipes. One general household cleaner can serve many purposes; you do not need a different product for every cleaning problem.
    • If safer alternatives are not available, buy only the amount you will need. Make sure that you understand what hazards are associated with a product’s use or disposal.
    • Flammable: Can easily be set on fire or ignited.
    • Explosive/reactive: Can detonate or explode through exposure to heat, sudden shock, or pressure.
    • Corrosive/caustic: Can burn and destroy living tissues when brought in contact.
    • Toxic/poisonous: Capable of causing injury or death through ingestion, inhalation, or absorption. Some toxic substances are known to cause cancer, genetic damage, and fetal harm.
    • Radioactive: Can damage and destroy cells and chromosomal material. Radioactive substances are known to cause cancer, mutations, and fetal harm.
    Some materials may exhibit more than one chemical hazard; for example, they might be flammable and toxic or corrosive and combustible.

    Other Types of Household Hazardous Products

    • Medications: Pharmaceutical compounds (i.e., antibiotics, reproductive hormones, and other prescription and nonprescription drugs).
    • Sharps: Hypodermic needles, syringes with needles attached, intravenous (IV) tubing with needles attached, scalpel blades, and lancets.
    • E-waste: Electronic waste such as computers, televisions, monitors, and printers.
    • Fluorescent lights: It is important to properly recycle compact fluorescent lights (cfl) because they contain small amounts of mercury. There are multiple sites for proper disposal of fluorescent bulbs in Clark County. Visit Light Recycle to search for a drop-off location close to you. Clark Public Utilities will take up to six unwanted cfl bulbs and exchange them for one new LED bulb at their local offices.
  • You can help

    We all play a role in keeping those waters clean in our everyday actions at home, work, school and play. Simple stewardship actions can help keep pollution from reaching our waterways. In Clark County, our stormwater drains go directly to stormwater facilities or the creeks themselves. It is important to realize what could get into a storm drain, besides rain water. Learn more to make sure your everyday actions are protecting our watershed. 

    Read more

    clean water help article

    Pick up pet waste

    Pet waste left on the ground can be washed into storm drains that lead directly to our streams and wetlands. This waste carries harmful bacteria, which can affect the health of aquatic wildlife, ourselves and our children.

    More resources

    Fix auto leaks

    If you see discoloration (like a rainbow) in the water running down the street during a rainstorm, there is pollution up stream. Check your vehicle for leaks and get it fixed. When your car leaks fluids, it is often a sign of a larger problem that can lead to major engine damage and possibly an expensive repair bill.

    Oil and other vehicle fluids from cars are toxic. Fix your leak so that vehicle fluids don’t end up in puddles where kids and pets like to play!

    Vehicles drip millions of quarts of motor oil into the Columbia River basin every year. Oil and other petroleum products can harm wildlife and habitat. When it rains, stormwater runoff carries pollution to creeks, streams and rivers.

    Only rain down the drain

    In your neighborhood, streets drain downhill to a storm drain. These drains are connected to pipes that carry the water to a local creek, stream or river. It is important to remember that we need to keep all contaminants and pollution OUT of the storm drains.

    Make sure you properly dispose of waste materials like paint or motor oil. Many of these items can be recycled or reused. Also keep soaps, herbicides and pesticides out of water by following directions on the product labels and not using on hard surfaces that can wash to the drain.

    Help educate your neighbors by volunteering to mark a message on your neighborhood’s drain “Protect Water – Only Rain in Drain.” Clark County loans out stencil kits for free! These are a great community service, school or scout project.

    Water wise farms

    If you are a small acreage or farm property owner, there are number of steps you can take to protect the health of your property and your watershed. Our partner at WSU Extension hosts workshops on topics to benefit your property, such as understand your soils, managing stormwater runoff and tips for healthy animals.

    Your landscape is part of the solution

    Everyone loves a lush lawn, beautiful plants and a healthy hard for you to call home. There are lots of great ideas to help you protect stormwater runoff from pollution while creating your dream landscape. Learn about Grasscycling, use of native plants, healthy plant care, gardening tips, and water conservation techniques.

  • Alternatives to chemicals

    One of the Naturally Beautiful Backyard (NBB) program’s main goals is to educate Clark County residents about how they can reduce the use of chemicals (herbicides, pesticides, fertilizers) in their landscapes and keep pollutants out of our watershed. You’d be surprised how easy it is for chemicals and other pollutants to find their way from our yards into nearby surface water, and even into the water we drink.

    Reducing the use of chemicals can help increase beneficial soil microbe activity and enhance wildlife habitat, both of which contribute to a healthy watershed.

    A healthy watershed benefits our community and the entire region. So limiting chemical use helps ensure a healthy environment for wildlife and people, too.


    Read more

    nbb pesticide alternatives article

    Ways to reduce use of chemicals in your landscape:

    Select Disease-resistant Plants

    Diseases are the most difficult problem to remedy without chemicals. So choosing plants that are immune to typical landscape diseases can really help. Choosing native plants can help, too. But be advised that even native plants can be susceptible to typical landscape diseases.

    There is a saying in landscaping: Right plant / Right place. It means selecting plants that fit into the space that is available, and that need the amount sun, water, soil composition, etc. that is available in that particular space. It also means evaluating a plant’s growth characteristics in accordance to your tolerance to do work and use chemicals. If you are dedicated to not using chemicals as a measure of protecting both wildlife and the watershed, then you should select plants that support that desire.

    Employ Beneficial Insects

    Over 90% of the insects in our region are beneficial. They do more good than harm, and eat or otherwise destroy many of the trouble-makers.

    A lot of insecticides kill more than just the few bugs that are actually pests. Systemic insecticides will kill even good insects that munch on the plant. Many contact insecticides will kill whatever insect they touch.

    “But they are eating my plants,” you lament! Yes, they are, but consider this: If you arrange to have an army of beneficial insects live among your plants, they would be more than happy to eliminate most all of the bad insects. All they need are some ‘host’ plants to call home.

    Hand-pick Pests

    Yeah, slugs are a true menace. We don’t know of any insects that eat them. Got chickens?

    Hand-picking and destroying the few pests that aren’t managed by beneficial insects is the way to go. Yes, we realize this is work. But your watershed thanks you!

    You can also hand-pick diseased leaves, fruit, etc from plants as an alternative to chemical use.

    Be Observant

    Become familiar with your landscape and how things should appear when it is healthy. Doing so can help you see when things are not quite right. And you'll have a jump-start on solving problems before they get out of hand.

    Remove Noxious Weeds

    While we promote the use of chemicals only as a last resort, we realize it is not always possible to avoid the use of chemical products entirely. You may have a large area of your yard being overtaken by invasive or aggressive plants or insects that should be eliminated before they get out of control.

    In such cases (like English ivy, thistle, blackberry, tansy ragwort, etc.), it is important to correctly identify the problem and choose an appropriate chemical product to treat it. Be sure to carefully follow the mixing and application instructions in order to protect yourself, your family, and the environment.

    Learn more

    Explore the entire Information Archive

  • Protecting groundwater

    Ways you can help protect groundwater and personal health

    If your property has a water well, make sure to conduct annual well checkups. In addition to protecting groundwater, yearly water testing and well maintenance can prevent costly maintenance, prolong the life of your well and prevent illness from fecal bacteria, nitrates and other contaminants. See the Washington State Department of Health’s website on safe drinking water and Clark County’s Public Health website for additional water well testing and maintenance information.

    You can also protect groundwater and personal health by:

    • Keeping hazardous chemicals, such as paint, fertilizer, pesticides and motor oil far away from your well.
    • Maintaining a “clean” zone of at least 100 feet between your well and any kennels or livestock operations.
    • Periodically checking the well cover or well cap on top of the well casing to ensure it is in good repair and securely attached. Its seal should keep out dirt, insects and rodents.

    Another way to protect groundwater is to conserve it. Groundwater is a limited resource. In Clark County, groundwater aquifers supply almost all the water for drinking, agriculture, and other uses. Increasing demands on water supplies and droughts have made conserving water more important. Everyone can start by monitoring everyday water use around the home. For water-saving tips, see the EPA’s WaterSense website.

    Residents with on-site septic systems can also protect groundwater by ensuring their system is inspected regularly. See Clark County’s Public Health website on septic systems for more information.

    As residents of the rainy Pacific Northwest, we might assume that clean, fresh water will always be ours for the asking. But pollution, urbanization, and other population pressures challenge this assumption. Clark County administers the Clean Water Program to safeguard the quality of our water and comply with the federal Clean Water Act. For more information, see the EPA’s website about the Clean Water Act.

  • Safe disposal

    Take it to the transfer station!

    Clark County residents can dispose of household hazardous waste such as paints, pesticides, poisons, automotive fluids and chemicals at the three transfer stations in Clark County on most Fridays and weekends for FREE.

    Residents can drop of household hazardous waste at the following locations and times (business-generated hazardous waste will not be accepted at these sites):

    Central Transfer Center Station
    11034 N.E. 117th Ave.
    (360) 256-8482
    Friday, Saturday, and Sunday: 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

    West Van Recovery Center
    6601 N.W. Old Lower River Road
    (360) 737-1727
    Friday and Saturday: 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

    Washougal Transfer Station
    4020 S. Grant St
    (360) 835-2500
    Third Saturdays: 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

    There are also twelve paint stores in Clark County that accept used or leftover paint:

    • Ace Hardware, 13009 NE Hwy 99, Vancouver
    • Ace Hardward, 1605 W Main Street, Battle Ground
    • Filbin's Ace Hardward, 809 NE Minnehaha St, Vancouver
    • Habitat for Humanity ReStore, 10811 SE Mill Plain Blvd., Vancouver
    • Miller Paint, 14300 NE 20th Ave., Vancouver
    • Miller Paint, 11717 NE 78th Way, Vancouver
    • Miller Paint, 2607 NE Andresen Rd., Vancouver
    • Miller Paint, 111 NE 164th Ave., Vancouver
    • North County Hardware, 40600 NE 221st Ave., Amboy
    • Parkrose Hardware, 16509 SE 1st St., Vancouver
    • Parkrose Hardware, 8000 E Mill Plain Blvd, Vancouver
    • Rodda Paint and Décor, 7723 NE 4th Plain Blvd., Vancouver

    Guidelines for dropping off hazardous waste 


    • Keep HHW products separate (do not mix).
    • Bring products in their original containers when possible.
    • Seal products to prevent leaks and spills.
    • Keep products away from the driver and passengers, i.e., in a trunk, truck bed, or trailer.
    • Keep children and pets away from collection sites and events.

    DO NOT:

    • Exceed 25 gallons or 220 pounds of HHW at fixed HHW collection facilities (okay at the satellite collection events)
    • Bring asbestos, explosives/ammunition, or radioactive materials
  • Natural Garden Tour

    Save the Date: Natural Gardens Tour - Sunday, 15 July 2018

    The Natural Garden Tour is a self-guided tour on a Sunday in July, offering a peek into spectacular gardens that are maintained through natural gardening techniques. Meet the host gardeners and gather ideas to make your yard a beautiful and healthy garden. The 2017 Natural Garden Tour had 800 participants, with a total of 2,400 garden visits! Check back in June 2018 for details on the 2018 Natural Garden Tour.

    Why Garden Naturally?
    Common chemicals kill many insects beneficial to the health of your garden and they compromise the garden’s ability to fight pests. By learning natural gardening techniques, you can minimize the use of chemicals to control diseases and pests. By removing chemicals from our management practices, we help to keep a healthy environment for pets and children, while also protecting local rivers and streams.


    Check back in June for the 2018 Natural Garden Tour Booklet

    2017 Natural Garden Tour Booklet

    Related articles: Naturally Beautiful Backyards | Grasscycling

    natural garden tour