The amount of garbage we create increases dramatically during the holidays. You can celebrate with less trash and more time with loved ones by following these tips to reuse or recycle more and know what you need to throw away.
Christmas trees: recycle
If you live in the county or one of the cities listed below and currently have curbside yard debris collection, you can have your tree collected at home. You will need to cut your tree to fit in the curbside yard debris cart with the lid closed. You can do this for as many weeks as necessary. If the tree is not in the cart, an extra fee may be charged. Be sure to remove all the decorations (don't forget the hidden pickle) and the stand. Live wreaths are accepted with metal and decorations removed. Flocked trees are also accepted for recycling collection.
- Unincorporated Clackamas County (only those with a yard debris cart)
- Happy Valley
- Lake Oswego
- Oregon City
- West Linn
If you live inside the city limits of Molalla: Trees may also be set out at the curb, without a cart, on collection day for 2 weeks after Christmas. No charge for pick up. If the tree is over 5 feet fall, please cut it in half for easier handling.
Drop-off locations: The Clackamas River chapter of Trout Unlimited will collect trees for $10 and place them in Oregon rivers to bolster salmon, trout and steelhead habitat. Drop off January 6th or 13th from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at 6000 Failing St. in West Linn, next to the Royal Treatment Fly Fishing shop. You may also find a Boy Scout troop or other non-profit to take your tree. Drop-off locations are available too. To find a drop-off location near you, check Metro's Find a Recycler directory.
String lights: reuse or recycle
String lights can be taken to many depots, including Metro transfer stations, free of charge. Leave small bulbs on, but remove large bulbs.
- Metro South Transfer Station
2001 Washington St., Oregon City
- Clackamas County Garbage & Recycling Transfer Station (Sandy Transfer Station)
19600 SE Canyon Valley Road, Sandy
Wrapping paper: reuse, recycle or throw away
If the wrapping paper is not reusable, then you can put it in curbside recycling if it doesn't have metallic foil or glitter. However, if it does have metallic foil or glitter, put it in the garbage. You may want to buy recyclable wrapping paper in the future, or wrap gifts in something that can be reused or is part of the gift (like a dish towel).
Gift bags, ribbon: reuse or throw away
If possible, save gift bags and ribbon for future use. Otherwise, toss them in the garbage.
Gift tissue: reuse, recycle, or throw away
If still in good condition, save gift tissue for future use. If the gift tissue is plain, you can recycle it. However, if the gift tissue has glitter or a metallic sheen, toss it in the garbage.
Rigid plastic: throw away
Rigid plastics, like clamshells, are not included in your curbside recycling program and as of recently cannot be taken to a recycling depot either. Toss them in the garbage.
Bubble wrap & packing peanuts: reuse, bring to a recycling depot or throw away
Materials such as bubble wrap and packing peanuts can be reused. Your local shipping store may take them. Bubble wrap and packing peanuts are not included in your curbside recycling program, but can be recycled at depots throughout the region. Materials that cannot be reused or recycled will have to be thrown in the garbage.
Styrofoam is not included in your curbside recycling program and currently there is only one recycling depot that takes it.
7904 SW Hunziker St., Tigard
Don't know if you can recycle what you have?
Do you have questions about recycling materials not mentioned here? Search Metro's Find a Recycler directory or call 503-234-3000 for a recycling location near you.
Planning can reduce even more waste
Planning ahead can save a lot of waste, and money, too. If you are already thinking about how you can prevent waste for next year or for other celebrations, try these ideas.
- Only use reusable or recyclable giftwrap or packaging
- Make the wrapping part of the gift, like colorful dish towels
- Make your own gift wrap from grocery bags, maps or calendars
- Give experiences instead of stuff: movies, concerts, museums
- Purchase gifts from thrift stores
- Donate to a loved one's favorite charity
- Send gift cards to save on packing and shipping
- Share your summer bounty with gifts of jams, relishes, and the like.
For even more waste-wise holiday information, explore Metro's waste-wise holiday ideas.