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14 Practical Ways to Reduce Waste in Portland, Oregon

  |  Portland

In a world of single-use plastic, unnecessary food waste and other wasteful practices, there are plenty of ways we can try to reduce waste, in both small-scale and large-scale ways. And thankfully, the eco-conscious, environmentally friendly city of Portland makes minimizing waste easier than ever before.

From city initiatives like composting and recycling to sustainable shopping practices, here are a few practical ways to reduce waste in Portland. These small steps can make your footprint on the planet a little bit smaller!


Get Groceries at Imperfect Foods

Imperfect Foods

Photo Courtesy of Imperfect Foods

Imperfect Foods is a grocery delivery service with a mission to eliminate food waste and build a better food system for everyone. They offer imperfect (yet delicious!) produce, as well as affordable pantry items, and quality eggs and dairy. These items are conveniently delivered to your doorstep at a rate of up to 30% less than you would pay at a traditional grocery store. Imperfect Foods offers the best of both worlds: access to healthy, seasonal produce and reduction of food waste — all at a lower price. They are proving that doing the right thing for the planet doesn’t have to cost more!


Shop Local

While we all appreciate the convenience of shopping at Amazon, there’s no denying that ordering stuff online can produce a lot of waste, from the packaging materials to the impacts associated with truck or air delivery. Shopping from local businesses is one of the best ways to avoid waste — and you can even opt out of a bag at checkout! Consider one of these eco-friendly shops the next time you need clothing, a gift or something for the home.


Get Eco-Friendly Dinnerware From bambu


Photo Courtesy of bambu LLC

bambu is a Portland-based business making eco-friendly dinnerware and sustainable home goods. They make a variety of bamboo kitchen products, including cutting boards, serving boards and trays, serving utensils and spoons, straws, and more sustainable products such as cork bowls and textiles made with natural fabrics. Plus, their compostable dinnerware, including plates, cutlery and napkins, is the first natural disposable option made from organic, renewable bamboo.


Eat at Restaurants With Green Practices

Supporting restaurants with green initiatives is an easy way to minimize waste while dining out. Meet a few of the restaurants, bakeries and breweries working to minimize food waste here, including Mediterranean Exploration Company, Shalom Y’all, Hopworks Urban Brewery, Pizzicato, ¿Por Qué No?, and many more.


Stop Junk Mail

Ways to Reduce Waste in Portland, OR

Did you know more than 85 billion pieces of unsolicited mail get dropped in mailboxes around the country every year? That ends up being about 100 pounds for every household. Significantly reduce the amount of junk mail in your mailbox by opting out with these tips from Oregon Metro!


Shop at Thrift Stores

Shopping second-hand is one of the best ways to minimize textile waste. It helps the planet by keeping clothing out of landfills, helps your wallet and helps the community! Local blogger Chloé Lepeltier of Conscious by Chloé put together an extensive list of the city’s best thrift stores. Plus, there are several Goodwill, Salvation Army and Buffalo Exchange locations in the area.


For Holiday or Birthday Gifts, Give Experiences

Ways to Reduce Waste in Portland, OR

Oregon Metro recently shared a list of ways to reduce waste over the holidays, which is a busy time when we often lose sight of sustainability. Instead of buying a physical item, they suggest giving an experience to your loved one, such as a movie theater gift card, membership to the Oregon Zoo, tickets to a show at Portland’5 Centers for the Arts, or entrance passes to national, state and regional parks.


Follow Zero Waste PDX

To keep your finger on the pulse of sustainability in Portland, follow Zero Waste PDX, a local business offering resources and tips for reducing your footprint in Portland. They also specialize in personalized consulting packages for businesses of all sizes as well as individuals. Simply subscribe with your email to stay informed about ways to lower your impact on the planet at home, at work, or in your community.



Composting in Portland, OR

Don’t worry about DIYing your own compost bin — because the City of Portland is removing many of the obstacles associated with composting. They provide large 64-gallon rolling compost carts as part of regular garbage service. Simply place yard debris and food scraps in the cart to be picked up along with your garbage on pickup day. Be sure to read the complete guide to the City’s composting services, which includes what you can and cannot compost, tips for food scrap collection, and other helpful reminders.


Shop at the Farmers’ Market

Cut out the middleman by shopping directly from local farmers and purveyors at the farmers’ market. The Portland area is teeming with farmers’ markets, from Vancouver, Washington all the way down to Canby, Oregon. Use our guide and map of Portland area farmers’ markets to find the market nearest you! Tip: Bring your own canvas tote or reusable grocery bag to minimize the use of plastic bags.


Eat at Vegan Restaurants

Vegan Restaurants in Portland, OR

On a larger scale, a lot of waste and environmental damage can occur within the agricultural industry, from feeding and watering animals to the greenhouse gases emitted into the atmosphere. Eating a vegetarian or vegan diet can help cut down on these side effects. And thankfully, there are plenty of vegan restaurants in Portland, serving up everything from Japanese and Israeli fare to BBQ and pizza, and practically everything in between.



In addition to composting, the City of Portland makes recycling very easy to do. Each household gets a blue rolling cart for recycling, which can hold paper, plastic and metal, and a small yellow recycling bin specifically for glass. Use the City’s complete guide to recycling, which includes the items you can and cannot recycle, and other helpful tips and reminders to make recycling less intimidating. Plus, use this directory to find out where you can recycle odd items such as batteries, packing peanuts, an old dishwasher and more. Overwhelmed? Consider printing this guide for garbage, recycling and composting and hanging it on your fridge!


Buy in Bulk at a Co-Op

Alberta Co-Op Grocery Portland, OR

Photo Courtesy of Alberta Co-Op Grocery

Minimize a need for plastic packaging by filling your own cloth bags or mason jars with bulk pantry items at a local co-op. A few of the best places for bulk shopping include Alberta Co-Op Grocery, Food Front Cooperative Gallery, People’s Food Co-Op and Know Thy Food. Plus, these co-ops also have a large selection of organic produce, local foods and natural household cleaning products.


Buy Art Supplies at SCRAP

Artists know that partially used supplies can easily go to waste — but that doesn’t have to be the case! SCRAP is a nonprofit organization with a mission to inspire creative reuse and environmentally sustainable behavior by providing educational programs and affordable materials to the community. They sell inexpensive reused art and craft materials and office supplies in their retail space and provide a workshop space for individuals and groups to rent.


How do you minimize?

Let us know what else we can do to reduce waste in Portland! Comment below with your eco-friendly tips and suggestions.

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About the Author

Melissa Peterson, Director of Agent Services and Technology

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