You’ve done (or are doing) the hard work of deciding what no longer fits your space. Maybe you even used different options to donate or sell those items. But what about the things that don’t fit either of those categories? Are they destined for the landfill? What about those items that can be used creatively or recycled? Likewise, what about the items that you know need to be disposed of, but you aren’t sure how to handle?  Clients tell us that they want to get rid of stuff properly, but don’t always know how or where to go for help. For that reason, this month we’re focusing on tips and ideas to help you rightsize and repurpose in a responsible and informed way. In addition, we have included The Big Rocks Organizing Recycling Guide that goes beyond the curbside bin. So, let’s put the “spring” in “spring cleaning” and jump into these tips to help you recycle and remove items more consciously!

Creative Upcycling

First, let’s consider options inside your space for giving items a “new” purpose. Through the process of “upcycling,” or creative reuse, you may be able to use your items in new ways, before they even leave your house! For example, a Ball jar can hold cotton balls or Q-tips. Clothespins can take on a new life as chip clips. Even a tin can or an old shoe can become a flower pot! However, some items like containers that held chemicals, flammables, and other hazardous materials should not be reused in this way. Check out Metro to dispose of these properly. Are you an artist or a crafty person?  Consider upcycling items from your own home. Short on ideas? Try searching for upcycling inspiration on Etsy or Pinterest. It doesn’t have to be beautiful enough to sell. Remember, the goal is to reduce the waste that would otherwise go to the landfill.

For those of you who don’t have the time or ability to take on a project yourself, we have also listed some creative reuse resources below that take donations. You don’t need to be the next Vik Muniz, but it’s a bonus if you are! Our own team member, Jocelyn Biro, reuses wooden headboards and other found objects to build innovative and colorful garden benches. 

Informed + Resourceful Recycling + Disposal

Next, let’s talk about recycling. We have compiled many different options for recycling and disposal in the Portland metro area, but what if there was a single internet search or phone number you could call to get your questions answered immediately? Fortunately, there is! Metro’s website has a free and easy-to-use search function called “Find a Recycler.” This tool allows you to type in any item you want to get rid of or select it from a number of different menus. In addition, Find a Recycler will also give you details for pick up and/or dropoff, contact information, and the distance you are away from the different recyclers on their site. Afterward, if you still have questions, call Metro’s “Ask an Expert” phone number at (503) 234-3000. You can get help from Metro’s recycling experts Monday-Friday, 8:30 AM-5 PM.  Here are some more tips and hints to get you recycling like a pro: 

  • Create your own recycling center at home! Decide which categories you would like to save for a recycling event or take to a specialty recycling center. Do you get a lot of plastic packaging? Styrofoam? There are places beyond the curbside bin that can recycle those! Gather some containers such as bags, boxes, or totes, label each with the category, and find a spot in your house or garage where they’re easily accessible to all.  

  • Don’t fall into a pattern of “wish-cycling.” That is, don’t deposit items in your bin that don’t belong because you think they should be recyclable. Doing this contaminates the rest of the usable recyclables and requires them to be thrown out as a result.

  • Did you know that just because a plastic has a numbered category on it, that doesn’t necessarily mean it is recyclable in your curbside bin? On the contrary, size and shape are the important factors to look at. Acceptable items are bottles, jugs, jars, or containers with a wider lid than the base, and they must be 6 ounces or larger. Check out Metro’s website below to find out more.

  • Not all boxes can be recycled.  Boxes that have been impregnated with plastic, such as frozen food boxes, butter boxes, ice cream containers, takeout containers, microwaveable or takeout trays cannot go in your bin! Also, if any of your paper or cardboard is food-contaminated, you will need to toss it in the trash or compost it.

  • Items like paper cups, receipts, napkins, paperback books, photos, and tissues are all made from paper, right? So, shouldn’t we recycle them just like we do paper? Surprisingly, the answer is no. Even if they are clean, these items and similar ones can contain chemicals or coatings that cannot be recycled.

  • Did you know that just because a plastic has a numbered category on it, that doesn’t necessarily mean it is recyclable in your curbside bin? On the contrary, size and shape are the important factors to look at. Acceptable items are bottles, jugs, jars, or containers with a wider lid than the base, and they must be 6 ounces or larger. Check out Metro’s website below to find out more.

  • Items like paper cups, receipts, napkins, paperback books, photos, and tissues are all made from paper, right? So, shouldn’t we recycle them just like we do paper? Surprisingly, the answer is no. Even if they are clean, these items and similar ones can contain chemicals or coatings that cannot be recycled.

  • Lids (small plastic caps or flat plastic lids) are too small or flat to be sorted out of recycling and usually end up at paper mills where they contaminate the paper. Sign up for Ridwell (see below) or hold onto them for a quarterly special recycling event, not your curbside bin.
  • Not all boxes can be recycled.  Boxes that have been impregnated with plastic, such as frozen food boxes, butter boxes, ice cream containers, takeout containers, microwaveable or takeout trays cannot go in your bin! Also, if any of your paper or cardboard is food-contaminated, you will need to toss it in the trash or compost it.
  • Glass recycling may sound like a catch-all term for different types of glass, but it isn’t. This service is meant only for bottles and jars, and not just anything made of glass. For example, drinkware, Pyrex, windows, vases, or broken glass cannot be recycled from your curb.
  • Many items can be collected from your home, or you can take them to one of the many recycling and disposal companies in the Portland metro area. However, there is no shortage of donation, repair, recycle, disposal, and shredding events in our area. We regularly update our Rightsizing from the Inside Out Facebook page to share these resources. Join the group and let us know about events near you! 

Additional Resources in the Portland Metro Area

Recycler/ Disposal                     Site/Service Services/specializations                Website/contact

AppleApple product trade In/drop off + some mail-in servicesWebsite
AgilyxPolystyrene/Styrofoam drop offWebsite 
Best BuyElectronics/appliances/misc drop offWebsite
Free GeekElectronics drop offWebsite
GoodwillElectronics drop off Website
James RecyclingPlastics/electronics/small appliances collection (971) 217-7444 + website
JustPorchItSchedule a pick up online of clothing, shoes, hats, bags, belts, other accessories, any fabric, towels, sheets, blankets, pillows, comforters, other linens, small household items that are bagged + in any condition other than moldy or wet. They then text you the day they’ll be in your neighborhoodWebsite
MetroComprehensive recycling + disposal locator, general recycling guidelines + more including posters + flyers like this one, this one, or this oneWebsite  Ask an Expert (503) 234-3000 Monday to Friday from 8:30 AM-5 PM
Oregon E-CyclesElectronics recycling locator(888) 532-9253 + website
Habitat for Humanity ReStoresBuilding materials/furniture/power tools drop off, pick up + moreWebsite
Pride Disposal & RecyclingPlastics/textiles/light bulbs collections, standard recycling collection, bulky items, yard debris +  moreWebsite
ReBuilding CenterReuse, building materials/fixtures/windows drop off, pick up + moreWebsite
ReClaim It!Creative reuse, furniture/decor/building materials drop off by approval + moreWebsite
Repair Fair CommunityHosts free community repair eventsFacebook Page Events
RidwellPaid subscription pick-up service to reuse + recycle plastics/textiles/electronics +  moreWebsite
SCRAP PDXCreative reuse + misc. donations by appointmentWebsite
StaplesElectronics drop offWebsite
TerraCycleReuse, household items/plastics/misc drop off + pick up, + more, including disposable contact lense containers Website

 

Going Forward

Use these resources and tips and you’ll be more informed and empowered. Above all, think beyond the landfill and imagine a new life for your space and your stuff! Need help with your rightsizing project? The Big Rocks Organizing team is here to assist you with respect, compassion, and professionalism. Book a free exploratory call to get started.