Portland: The "Green" City

When our new town dropped off our trash cans, The Bean and I took a moment to stand in front of them, just staring.

Green is for recycling.  Brown is for yard waste.  And the itsy-bitsy, teensy-weensy, pocket-sized trash can is for regular trash.

It’s amazing how three different-sized trash cans can say so much without saying a single word.

After spending the appropriate amount of time gawking at the oversized yard waste bin and shaking our head at our new midget blue trash can, The Bean and I rolled up our sleeves and dived right into being green.

We read all the instructions on what Portland considers recyclable, carefully pondering every item we threw away.  We spent the week learning everything we could about recycling, about composting, and about all the proper do’s and dont’s of sorting and storing recyclables.  We got a second trash can for our house and set it up next to the first, and even went as far as crushing and cutting-up some of our trash in order to have it fit properly.

After a long week with a heavy learning curve, The Bean and I proudly dragged our trash bins to the corner.

There.

We had a filled-to-the-brim green recycling trash can and a blue landfill trashcan with room to spare.  We had done it!  We had embraced our new, green lifestyle with enthusiasm.  Viva la environment!  Long live Mother Earth!

We stood there, heads held high, smiling proudly as we watched the trash truck pull up to our curb….

…..and watched it pick up both the recycling as well as the regular trash can, one after another, and dump them both in the same hole.

What the heck, Portland.

***Update***

Remember, people, I am married to an accountant.  Even the little boring things like trash service are run with the precision of a navy warship.   Not only did The Bean call twice to double check all the details involved with trash pickup (recycling/regular occur weekly on the same day, and yard waste is every other week), but there’s a little color-coded chart hung in our kitchen with the trash pick-up schedule for the entire year.  

It’s both creepy and sexy – creepy that someone’s brain actually works like that, and sexy, because I’m married to that brain and it means I never have to worry about stuff like that again, leaving me at least 15% more space in my brain to think about horses.

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10 thoughts on “Portland: The "Green" City

  1. what? you have got to be kidding me! the same hole? no freaking way. please let me know if this is a one time fluke or if that is normal – did you ask a neighbor?

    although oregon is the greenest place i know in america, germany takes that prize in europe and sometimes i just cannot believe my life.

    every german person must return plastic and certain glass bottles to stores. you get a refund on these water/coke/beer bottles, which, i would way rather pay more, and not have to do this! you often see cars with big bags full of bottles, on their way back to the store. in america we don't bring things to the store, we take things from it. here when you go to the store, often you go to the recycling station first with your bottles, then you shop. the line for bottle recycling was out the door last week. why isn't there a better way?

    it annoys me so thankfully my husband usually takes care of this chore. germans in general do not drink tap water, they buy water. i wonder if americans only drank store-bought water, if there would be a return $ on the bottles.

    now while i'm sitting here in my kitchen let me count the different recycling containers. 1 garbage 2 glass 3 paper 4 general recycling 5 plastic. many kitchens also have a compost container but that got really stinky. (there is no such thing in germany as an in-sink device that chews up food waste (what are those called?).)

    and glass, for some reason, is not picked up by the truck so you have to take your glass to a special glass recycling station every week. this also really annoys me but some cities make people bring paper too!

    the one thing we don't do is yard waste because we have a spot on our property where we just dump it.

    batteries – god forbid i throw a double A in the trash. no, you bring them back to the store or go straight to h***.

    so what is the situation in oregon grocery stores with bags? is it like seattle where (supposedly) you have to pay now for bags?

    i wanted to tell you that yesterday i heard on the radio that california has a new law that property owners can enforce a no smoking rule for any building, including apartment homes. (santa barbara was the city) of course this is completely appalling to people here, that's why it's good news. no smoking in your own home!?!? they also said how you are not allowed to smoke within a certain distance from schools and shops. *GASP*

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  2. No good! Although… I use my recycling bin for a trash can for Tuesday morning trash pickup, and as a recycling bin for Thursday morning recycling pickup. Any chance you have different pickup dates?

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  3. Good grief o.O Are you sure your recycling and regular trash are picke dup on the same days? Ours alternate – 1 week regular, the next recycling and yard waste.

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  4. Isn't it amazing how much stuff can be recycled. I cringe thinking of all the years of just chucking things away before we got the opportunity to recycle. Our council definitely do different things with trash and recycling, it gets picked up on different days too. And I live in Africa! Well, Cape Town, where we're pretty civilised. 🙂

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  5. As always this is a funny post, but I'm sorry that it's at your expense. Lucky you to have Bean giving you an extra 15% brain power that can be 'spent' on horses!

    In Aloha (near Beaverton), the gargage truck comes every week, but the recycling truck only comes every other week. If you accidentally put out all 3 bins in the wrong week, the garbage truck still only dumps the single garbage bin – the other 2 don't get dumped because the recycling truck doesn't come that day.

    I wonder if your garbage guy thought that you had put garbage in all 3 bins? Or maybe St Helens doesn't actually recycle?

    It's not only in Germany that you return bottles to the store – Oregon does that too and has a deposit on most drink containers – aluminum, glass, and plastic. I'm too lazy to do that, so I just recycle my few bottles and cans – the recycler can have the deposits.

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  6. Where I live (about half an hour from Portland) the recycling truck only comes every other week too. So you put your garbage out weekly and only put your recycling can out when it's a recycling pick up day. And yes, our recycling can is twice the size of our garbage can. My city doesn't pick up glass, so we save all our bottles and jars and take them ourselves about once a month to the recycling center. Yes, we are native Oregonians and yes, we take our responsibility to recycle seriously. Welcome to the Northwest!

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  7. At the recycling depot here (we're in canada though), there are a number of disabled folks who have jobs going through and sorting all the recycling. I think you should look inot it. Maybe there is a button on the truck for two compartments, same hole? I dunno. That is super lame though. I know when i lived in Norway, we recycled a whole bunch of stuff and then I found out that it all just went to the dump after going through the system since there wasn't anywhere to put the recycled goods (too expensive to buy back or something?)… It was a really weird exercise in futility, but it made the common man feel good about themselves so they did it. It may be that they do the sorting at the depot and just made a mistake? crazy though. 😦

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