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.

Clark County makes every effort to ensure the accuracy of the information provided on this web site. However, due to the possibility of transmission errors, HTML browser capabilities, changes made since the last update to the site, etc., neither Clark County, nor any agency, officer, or employee of Clark County warrants the accuracy, reliability, or timeliness of any information published by this system, nor endorses any content, viewpoints, products, or services linked from this system, and shall not be held liable for any losses caused by reliance on the accuracy, reliability, or timeliness of such information. Portions of such information may be incorrect or not current. Any person or entity that relies on any information obtained from this system does so at his or her own risk.

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.

cc logo

Contact Details

Call us
(360) 397-2121 x4352

Reduce waste

  • Food: Too Good to Waste

    Throwing out food, throwing out money

    Wasted food is a hot topic these days and for good reason. We’re not talking about food scraps or compost here, but edible food. Food that could have been eaten if it didn’t get slimy or moldy, if we had planned better, or been more realistic about menu planning and shopping. An average family is thought to waste $1,365 to $2,275 per year. See TIPS to reduce wasted food in your kitchen.

    Wasted food means wasted money, as well as resources. Growing food is an energy and resource intensive endeavor, with many externalized costs (water, gas for tractors, fertilizers, to name a few) that should not be taken lightly or for granted.

    Read more

     

    Related articles: Thoughtful Consumption | Holiday Waste Reduction

    food waste article

    Did you know?

    Consumers are responsible for more wasted food than any other point in the food system. This has become the case only in the last 40–50 years. Going back even further, “leftovers” was not a category of food in the 19th century (until the advent of the refrigerator), as using up food was fundamental and normal. It wasn’t until the country started to prosper and people felt a sense of abundance, that leftovers became a bit of a joke, and dinnertime was met with grumbles if food made a repeat appearance.

    Food insecurity

    hungry kid eating spaghettiAs if we need another compelling reason to care about wasted food, consider world hunger and how many people experience food insecurity in our country. “In the United States, reducing losses by one-third would save enough food to equal the total diets of all 50 million food-insecure Americans — if only this food could actually be captured and distributed to them.” (Gunders)


    What’s being done?

    Recently, however, increased public awareness about the amount of food we collectively waste, has spurred research, campaigns, discussion, and resolutions — all in the name of changing both consumer behavior and the overall loss of food in our food system. The European Parliament passed a resolution in 2012 to reduce food waste by 50% by 2020. The U.K. has launched a widespread public awareness campaign, “Love Food Hate Waste”, with a helpful website.

    As Dana Gunders, from the Natural Resources Defense Council, urges in her book, Waste Free Kitchen Handbook, become a “food-waste warrior!” The preeminent publication on this topic, her book is packed full of interesting information and helpful tips, some of which we have highlighted here.

    What you can do

    plate of leftover food

    You can help reduce waste in your home various ways. Examples include shopping wisely; learning when food goes bad and understanding sell by, use by, and expiration dates; buying imperfect produce; storing and cooking food with an eye to reducing waste; freezing unused ingredients and leftovers; serving smaller portions and getting creative with leftovers.

    Whatever form your food waste prevention takes, remember not to be too hard on yourself. No one is perfect and change takes time. Try focusing on one behavior change at a time and see how it goes!


    Wasted food prevention tips

  • 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.
  • Holiday Waste Reduction

    It’s easy to be green no matter what holiday it is —
    Here are some tips you can use all year long

    Read more

     

    Related articles: Waste Reduction Home Assessment | Thoughtful Consumption

    holiday waste reduction article

  • Green Quizzes

    We put together some quizzes to help you test your green living knowledge. Choose any quiz to start.

  • Unlucky thirteen

    Not Part of the ‘Big Blue’ In-Crowd

    There are a lot of items that should NOT go in the blue curbside recycling cart. We know that people get excited about recycling and it feels good to do the right thing. Often that leads to ‘wish-cycling’ and our response to that is ‘when in doubt, leave it out.’ We’ve made a list of thirteen of those items and, although there are many more, we hope you’ll make an extra effort to dispose of these where they really belong.

    If you aren’t sure whether an item belongs in Big Blue, please do not put it there, no matter how much you would like to recycle it. Having non-recyclable items mixed into the cart creates additional work for the crews who have to sort it out and results in the wrong materials being bundled together and sent off to the markets where they may cause entire loads to be redirected to the garbage. It can also cause damage to machinery, injury to workers and may harm the environment.

    Read more

     

    unlucky 13 article

    Here are some common wish-cycled materials:

    1. Plastic Bags/plastic wrap

    1. Plastic Bags/plastic wrap

    Plastic bags and wrap are the worse items to place in Big Blue. From the bags you get at the grocery store to the wrapper on your bread or paper towels, none of these items belong in the recycling cart. They can clog the machines and cause a safety hazard for workers who have to cut them out with knives. This also creates down time for the system and that costs all of us money. Return plastic bags and film to your local grocery store to be recycled.

    Learn more

    2. Glass

    2. Glass

    All glass bottles and jars belong in a bin next to Big Blue. It’s important not to put them in the cart because they can break and cause injury to workers plus damage to machinery. And remember, no lids, ceramics, window glass, drinking glasses or incandescent light bulbs. All of these unrecyclable items belong in the garbage (unless they can be donated for reuse). CFLs belong with Household Hazardous Waste.

    3. Sharps

    Hypodermic needles, syringes and lancets are dangerous because they can injure people and spread germs or disease. Needles placed in Big Blue will then go over the sort line where workers can get stuck by them. This could result in medical testing, undue stress, and possibly serious medical conditions.

    Learn more

    4. Cords/Wires/Tangly things

    4. Cords/Wires/Tangly things

    Although these items may be made of recyclable materials, they belong in the garbage because of their shape. Materials on this list include hoses, ribbons, wire clothes hangers and rope. They can wrap around equipment and break the machinery used to sort the mixed recycling. Place these items in the garbage.

    5. Block Foam

    5. Block Foam

    Everyone gets this stuff at some point in time. It takes up lots of room in the garage and needs to be kept clean and dry in order to be recycled. It isn’t taken at the curb but you can drop it off at one of the Green Neighbor Recycle Day events. Just have a small piece or two? Put it in the garbage – it costs more in greenhouse gas emissions to drive it to be recycled. If you have a lot of block foam to dispose of, or if you collect a bunch from your friends and neighbors, you could drive it to Central Transfer and Recycling.

    6. Food Soiled Paper

    6. Food Soiled Paper

    Always put food-soiled paper in the garbage. This includes items such as used napkins, paper towels, paper plates or pizza boxes (some people tear the lid off the pizza box and recycle the non-greasy top half in Big Blue). Food residue weakens the quality of the paper for recycling and can contaminate other materials in the same load.

    7. To-Go Containers and Cups

    7. To-Go Containers and Cups

    All containers and cups that you bring food or drinks home in belong in the garbage. They are likely food-soiled but even if you rinse them thoroughly, they likely contain some level of plastic or special chemical that prevents them from breaking down or getting soggy when food or drink is placed in them. This plastic/chemical makes this garbage only. Try to bring a reusable cup or mug when you stop out for a drink and you might consider bringing reusable containers to bring home your leftovers in too.

    8. Loose Shredded Paper

    8. Loose Shredded Paper

    Paper that has been shredded is too small to sort. The pieces drop through the equipment and cause a mess at the recycling facility. Don’t shred paper unless it really needs to be shredded for security reasons. Shredding shortens the fibers and makes it much less desirable for use at the papermill. It can be placed in your backyard compost pile and will quickly break down. If you feel like you must place it in Big Blue, put it in a paper bag with the top stapled shut, but only as a last resort.

    9. Clothing

    9. Clothing

    Clothing is not recyclable but it is definitely reusable! Take your unwanted clothing to a local thrift store. Even if it can’t be worn again, they will likely have an outlet just for the fabric. If you just don’t have time for that, it needs to go into the garbage.

    10. Household Hazardous Waste

    10. Household Hazardous Waste

    Household cleaning products, automotive fluids, garden chemicals and other hazardous materials from your home should be taken to the transfer stations during HHW collections hours on the weekends. Paint can be returned to some local paint stores.

    Learn more

    11. Electronics (E-Waste) and Batteries

    11. Electronics (E-Waste) and Batteries

    Television sets, computers, monitors and other electronic products you no longer want can be disposed of at numerous locations in Clark County for no charge. To get a list of drop-off locations, visit Recycling A-Z and type ‘electronic materials’ in the search box. Household batteries should be placed in a zip-loc bag and placed on the lid of Big Blue.

    Learn more

    12. Diapers

    12. Diapers

    Diapers and other sanitary products are not recyclable and should not be placed in Big Blue. Please place these items into the garbage.

    13. Plastic Packaging

    13. Plastic Packaging

    Plastic packaging or ‘blister packs’ should not be recycled in Big Blue. If you want to go the extra mile, you can separate any paper or cardboard from the plastic and recycle that while placing the plastic in the garbage. Plastics are a long and complicated topic. Visit our page dedicated just to plastics for more detailed information.

    Learn more

  • On the curb

    There are some items that Waste Connections will pick up for recycling that can be set on the curb instead of inside Big Blue.  

    Batteries – put household batteries in a sealed, clear plastic bag and place them on the lid of Big Blue.

    Motor Oil and Antifreeze – Place these materials in a clear, one-gallon plastic jug with a screw-top lid (milk jug). Do NOT mix motor oil or antifreeze with each other or with any other material such as water or automotive fluids. Place them on the curb next to the cart.

    Bottles & Jars – Rinse bottles and jars, discard lids. Place them in a bin or 5 gallon bucket next to the cart.

    on the curb article
  • Other recycling options

    There are plenty of options recycling items that Waste Connections doesn’t pick up curbside. Check out the info below, or jump over to Recycling A–Z to search for any items you have questions about.

    Read more

     

    other recycling options article

    Return to the Store

    Many retail locations accept materials for recycling. Watch for recycling stations when visiting your local retailers and grocery stores to learn where you can take items for proper disposal.

    Most grocery stores accept the following items for recycling. These items should all be clean and dry.

    • Plastic bags
    • Plastic film
    • Plastic wrap

    Learn more

    Other options for recycling

    • Learn more about recycling plastics on the plasticfilmrecycling.org website or visit our plastics page.
    • How2recycle promotes a smarter labeling system for recycling making it easier for people to know what they can recycle, and where to take items through their searchable database. There is some great information about recycling for you to check out on their website.
    • LightRecycleWA has information about free collection sites for mercury-containing lights such as CFLs and Fluorescent Tubes.
    • EcycleWashington.org lists free collections sites for responsible recycling of electronics.
    • Habitat for Humanity Store accepts used building materials and home furnishings for a thrift store that supports Habitat for Humanity.
    • Visit theRecycling A-Z directory to search for disposal options for other materials you wish to dispose of responsibly.
  • Home Assessments

    Use our home assessment forms to conduct Green Audits around your house! First, download the pdf for each assessment from the green box on the right. After you’ve completed each assessment, come back and click on the corresponding button below to report your results to us online. This info will help us provide better resources and tips for you in the future!