Garbage and Recycling

Garbage and Recycling

DRAFT Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

Reduce, reuse, and then recycle right to reduce the energy needed to make new products, reduce pollution, and create jobs.

The things we use (and the food we consume) affect our communities and the environment. From making a product (or growing food) to transporting it to a store (or our doorsteps) to using it (or eating it), the impacts mount at every step. How we ultimately dispose of an item, including its packaging (a peal/shell is nature’s packaging of food), also has impacts. By rethinking our relationship with stuff (and waste), we can lessen the burden on the environment by prioritizing waste reduction and reuse. 

Reduce and reuse first

Buying secondhand, repairing broken items, and repurposing materials conserves natural resources, protects the environment, and saves money. By utilizing the stuff we already have (things or food), we prevent the need to make new stuff, and therefore prevent further impacts on our environment, communities, and people. 


Reducing our waste can come in many forms. We might already have something that will meet the need; other times, we may determine we don’t really need the item, such as:

  • Opting not to use a straw.
  • Declining a bag at check-out after purchasing only a single (few) item(s).
  • Avoiding produce bags for fruits and veggies, such as oranges, onions, and avocados.

There are countless opportunities in our daily lives to avoid waste. Small actions can make a big difference. Let’s challenge ourselves to find ways, however small, to reduce our impact. 

Refill to avoid new and single-use packaging—whether it be food, body care, cleaning supplies, or beverages—with containers you already own! Many local stores around the county carry items in bulk and allow you to bring your own container/bag to refill! Reuse old plastic/zip-seal, cloth, and paper bags, or bring in bottles/jars (when allowed).

Repair to keep items from going to waste unnecessarily, save money, and reduce demand for new products. 

  • Attend a Repair Fair in Clackamas County. They are free community events were volunteer fixers help repair broken items. Learn more about upcoming Repair Fairs. 
  • There are many repair shops, tailors, cobblers, mechanics, etc. around the region! While we work to compile a list in Clackamas County, visit for regional options.
  • Visit to learn how to fix your stuff with step-by-step videos, purchase quality parts and tools to get the job done, and read or post solutions from the fix-it community.

Share books, seeds, and things with your local community. Clackamas County libraries (and some businesses) help reduce the amount of things you need to own by lending books and more. From shovels to games, kitchenware, karaoke machines and more, you have access to more than you may ever need. 

  • Libraries in Clackamas County offer books, media, and more! 
    • Libraries of Things provide an opportunity to try out an item before you purchase your own – make sure you enjoy the ukulele before investing in your own. Instead of buying and storing an item year-round for the one or two times you use it a year, check out a bubble machine for your kid’s birthday party, and then return it for someone else to enjoy.
    • Seed Libraries encourage a culture of sharing and sustainability. By providing good quality, local seeds, seed libraries make growing your own food easy and accessible.
  • Tool rental at the following Home Depot locations provide access to indoor and outdoor tools, a wide variety of equipment, and trucks and vans. Fees apply.
    • 2002 Washington St., Oregon City; 503-723-3181
    • 9300 SE 82nd Ave., Happy Valley; 503-777-6342
    • 14800 SW Sequoia Pkwy., Tigard; 503-639-3500  


In Oregon, we have a long, strong history and culture of recycling. By recycling right, we’re able to reduce the energy and resources needed to make new products, reduce pollution, and create jobs.

In 2023, over 92,000 tons of material was collected in curbside recycling in Clackamas County. 
Recycling right is of utmost importance to maintain the integrity of our recycling system. It is a surprise to many that recycling is localized. What can and cannot go in the recycle bin depends on local processing facility capabilities and limitations. So when your reusable items (water bottles, shopping bags, etc.) eventually break and become unusable, make sure you dispose of them properly (which may mean placing it in the garbage).

Learn to recycle right with the Clackamas County Recycle Guide (available in seven languages). And remember, when in doubt, throw it out! It’s better to place recyclable items in the trash than to place trash in the recycling.

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