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Oct. 20, 2020

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Beyond Marie Kondo: Where to donate or recycle almost anything in Clark County

Real world ways to get rid of your stuff, whether you’re interested in decluttering, downsizing, or just trying to see the back of your closet

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Lucia Mercado of Washougal sorts items in the intake area of Goodwill in Vancouver on Feb. 1.
Lucia Mercado of Washougal sorts items in the intake area of Goodwill in Vancouver on Feb. 1. Goodwill reported an uptick in donations in January after Netflix began streaming “Tidying Up with Marie Kondo.” Alisha Jucevic/The Columbian Photo Gallery

When Netflix began streaming “Tidying Up with Marie Kondo” in January, Clark County residents began undertaking home decluttering projects.

Inspired by Kondo, who suggests people keep only those things that “spark joy,” people have been bagging up stuff they no longer want from their closets, cupboards and garages, and hauling them to donation sites.

Luckily for the declutterers of Southwest Washington, getting rid of usable clothing and housewares is a no-brainer. Clark County has no shortage of nonprofit organizations and thrift shops where you can donate your stuff.

Goodwill Industries operates six retail stores in Clark County in addition to others in Southwest Washington and Northwest Oregon. During a week in late January, donations were 23 percent higher systemwide compared with the same week a year ago, said Dale Emanuel, spokeswoman for Goodwill Industries Columbia-Willamette in Southwest Washington and Northwest Oregon. In Clark County, donations were up 6 percent.

“We closed the month of January and the month of the Netflix series roll-out 10 percent up,” Emanuel said. “That is rare.”

Recycling Answers

Clark Green Neighbors.org

360-397-2121 ext. 4352.

• Use this web tool to find options for donating your unwanted stuff. Type the item you want to recycle or donate, and you’ll see a list of local organizations or businesses that accept the item for either recycling or disposal. Download the Recycle Right app on your phone and the information will be at your fingertips.

Drop-off sites

Clark County’s transfer stations accept drop offs for many kinds of recycling and disposal:

West Vancouver Materials Recovery Center, 6601 N.W. Old Lower River Road, Vancouver; 360-737-1727.6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday to Friday; 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday.

Central Transfer and Recycling Center, 11034 N.E. 117th Ave., Vancouver; 360-256-8482. 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday to Friday; 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday.

Washougal Transfer Station, 4020 S. Grant St., Washougal; 360-825-2500. 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday.

Recycling events

Free classes in Vancouver: Recycling 101, 6 to 7:30 p.m. March 18, Fire Station 9, 17408 S.E. 15th St.; Recycling 201, 1:30 to 3 p.m. March 30, Columbia Bank, 101 E. Sixth St. Contact Julie Gilbertson at 360-487-7162 or julie.gilbertson@cityofvancouver.us.

14th Annual Recycled Arts Festival: June 29-30, Esther Short Park, Sixth and Esther streets in downtown Vancouver.

Got questions?

Email recyclehelp@wasteconnections.com

Because Goodwill doesn’t ask donors why they are donating, “We can’t tell you the increase in donations is the Kondo effect, but we can tell you that the Marie Kondo program has encouraged people to come to us, and we’re thankful,” Emanuel said. “What she’s doing for nonprofits is a really cool thing. No matter why a donation comes, we’re thrilled for it. But we really like this trend.”

Decluttering, donating

On a rainy Friday, drivers in four cars in the donation drop-off line waited to unload their unwanted items at the Fisher’s Landing Goodwill. Though Merissa Hanks of Camas unloaded only one box, she has been dropping off donations weekly, and so has her mother. Hanks said watching the Marie Kondo series “definitely encouraged me to get rid of stuff. It feels good. You realize that your stuff doesn’t bring you happiness. Stuff is not important.”

Steve Wehrman of Vancouver also dropped off one bag, but he said Marie Kondo’s decluttering advice has inspired his stepdaughter, who donated six bags of clothing to Goodwill.

“Because of Marie Kondo, she started going through her closet. She told me she felt happy. Unburdened,” Wehrman said. “What a great feeling — both to get rid of stuff and to donate.”

As Robin Duke of Camas dropped off several bags of clothing, she said, “Marie Kondo is inspiring. She asks ‘Does it spark joy?’ I can identify with that vibe. We have so much stuff. It feels better being lighter.”

To recycle or toss?

As Clark County residents channel Marie Kondo while rummaging through their closets, basements and garages, many will divide their stuff into piles: keep, donate, recycle or toss into the garbage.

Though many items can be added to curbside recycling bins, others can’t. Clark County’s three transfer stations offer recycling for a variety of items. Beyond that, there are more recycling opportunities. Deciphering what can be recycled and where to take items can be challenging.

“When you start really diving into it, there’s a lot going on about waste reduction in the county,” said Josy Wright, recycle manager at Waste Connections.

Waste Connections offers various recycling education programs. Wright also identified several free online options for getting rid of unwanted items: Craigslist, Next Door, Rooster, Facebook Marketplace and Buy Nothing Facebook groups.

“Recycling is not the best solution for every single item,” said Jill Krumlauf, the county’s outreach specialist with Clark County Green Neighbors.

Noting that 48 percent of Clark County’s waste is diverted from the landfill by recycling, Krumlauf added: “We have a pretty robust recycling community that has kept our recycling rates high. People want to do the right thing.”

In order to ensure people know where to turn when they have questions regarding what can be recycled and where, the county created Green Clark County’s Recycling A-Z, an online widget that offers options for recycling. Find it at ClarkGreenNeighbors.org/Reduce-And-Recycle/Recycling-A-Z. You can also download the Recycle Right App on your smartphone.

“We’re trying to get the word out about these resources,” Krumlauf said. “People wonder what to do with their old cellphones. We want to keep those hazardous items out of the landfills.”

Home decluttering projects might uncover old computers, cellphones, broken refrigerators, expired prescriptions, vehicle tires and open cans of paint. Many things can’t be donated to Goodwill or put in curbside recycling or garbage bins.

So how do you recycle or dispose of this stuff? Below are some options for Clark County residents.

Recycling, Donation guide

Appliances

(inoperable ranges, refrigerators, washers, dryers and old TVs)

Call Waste Connections’ customer service line, 360-892-5370, and request a bulky item pickup, which are scheduled for Tuesdays. Disposal fees vary. 

Habitat for Humanity ReStore, 10811 S.E. Second St.; 360-213-1313; ehfh.org/restore; 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. seven days a week. Accepts working appliances in its retail store; also accepts nonworking large appliances for recycling.

“We recycle metal,” said Alyssa Albert, store manager. “If you have a stove that doesn’t work anymore, drop it by for a donation, but let us know it doesn’t work so it will be recycled rather than sold. We also provide customers with a resource listing if they need help finding where to donate something, where to dispose of materials.”

Automotive tires, wheels and batteries

Les Schwab Tire Centers, multiple locations in Clark County; lesschwab.com. 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday. All locations have recycling trailers on their lots and accept up to four car and passenger truck tires for $3 fee per tire; semi-truck tires for $5 per tire; automotive wheels and batteries, which typically have no recycling fee.

Bicycles, helmets, locks, inner tubes

Wheel Deals Bicycle Shop, 915 W. 13th St., 360-205-5617; sheltered.org/wheel-deals-bicycle-shop. Donate bicycles, helmets, locks and inner tubes from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday; from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday. Proceeds benefit Open House Ministries, which operates a homeless shelter.

Block foam

Drop off at Central Transfer & Recycling Center, 11034 N.E. 117th Ave.; 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday; 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

Computers, electronics and e-waste

Computers contain significant amounts of lead and cannot be put into landfills. Three local transfer stations collect e-waste separately and break it down. (See Drop Off Sites box).

Additional sites:

Cascadia Technical Academy, 12200 N.E. 28th St.; cascadiatechnicalacademy.org/its3. Accepts electronics (either working or not) including computers, laptops, monitors (but no glass monitors), printers, keyboards, mice and cellphones. Donated electronics provide educational opportunities for students in the Information Technology Systems, Service and Support program. Drop off at the school office during school days. Arrange large drop offs by contacting teachers at ray.nelson@evergreenps.org or ira.erbs@evergreenps.org.

“We accept working systems as a donation, but gladly accept all e-waste to recycle,” says teacher Ira Erbs. “Our students learn to troubleshoot, build, configure and set up computer systems.”

Free Geek, 1731 S.E. 10th Ave., Portland; 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday; 503-232-9350; freegeek.org or email info@freegeek.org. Accepts computers and computer-related hardware in any condition (scanners, tablets, e-readers, printers, copiers that can print from a computer network, LCD monitors, keyboards, mice, networking devices, fax machines, phones and cellphones, stereos and DVD players). No fee charged, but suggested donation from $3 to $8 per piece. 

Electronics in working condition

(including TVs, computer monitors, mice, keyboards, digital cameras and microwaves) Donate at thrift stores including Goodwill (six locations) and ReTails Thrift Store, 5000 E. Fourth Plain Blvd., Vancouver.

Electronic media

(working) Donate working CDs and DVDs to Goodwill Industries (multiple locations); ReTails Thrift Store, 4000 E. Fourth Plain Blvd., Vancouver, 360-984-6060; Friends of the Camas Public Library, 625 N.E. Fourth Ave., Camas, 360-834-4692.

Electronic media  to be shredded

(hard drives, CDs, DVDs, floppy disks, X-ray films and microfiche): LeMay Mobile Shredding Services, a Waste Connections company: 360-514-9011 or vancouvershred@wcnx.org

Fluorescent light bulbs

Drop off at Clark Public Utilities, 100 Columbia Way; Globe Lighting, 809 N.E. Minnehaha St., Vancouver; Filbin’s Ace Hardware, 809 N.E. Minnehaha St., Vancouver; West Van Materials Recovery Center, 6601 N.W. Old Lower River Road, Vancouver; Central Transfer and Recycling, 11034 N.E. 117th Ave., Vancouver; High School Hardware, 1605 W. Main St., Battle Ground; Washougal Transfer Station, 4020 S. Grant St., Washougal.

Household cleaning products

Habitat for Humanity Restore, 10811 S.E. Second St., Vancouver; 360-213-1313; open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. seven days a week. Cleaning products including Windex and Lysol must be in the original container and must be at least half full.

Household hazardous waste

Includes fluorescent lamps and bulbs, brake fluid, solvents and paint thinners. They are not required to be in the original containers, but they must be contained with a secure lid. Sharps needles should be in a sturdy container with a lid, such as a coffee can. All three county transfer stations (see box) will take household hazardous waste including cleaning materials, sharps, needles and batteries. West Vancouver, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday and Saturday; Central Transfer and Recycling, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays; Washougal Transfer station, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. first and third Saturdays.

Kitchen remodeling castoffs

(Including cabinets, sinks, appliances, windows and doors.) If you’re remodeling your kitchen, instead of demolishing your cabinets, call Habitat for Humanity Restore’s Salvage Service. Staff will deconstruct and haul away your old kitchen components and sell them at the Restore. Contact Mark Pomeroy, salvage service manager, 971-303-7575 or email salvage@pdxrestore.org.

Mattresses, box springs and old furniture

Call Waste Connections’ customer service line, 360-892-5370, and request a bulky item pickup, scheduled for Tuesdays. Fee varies.

Medications, prescriptions and vitamins

Don’t flush unwanted medications down the toilet or throw them in the garbage. clark.wa.gov/public-health/recycling-z

Noncontrolled substances

These include over-the-counter drugs and some prescriptions not regulated by the Controlled Substances Act, and can be dropped off at participating pharmacies:

PeaceHealth Southwest Outpatient Pharmacy, 400 N.E. Mother Joseph Place; 360-514-2294; 9 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. Monday through Friday; 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Noncontrolled substances only; must be in original packaging with all patient information removed or blacked out; no leaking containers. No sharps or inhalers.

Walgreen’s 24-hour pharmacy, 1905 S.E. 164th Ave., 360-885-2938; open 24 hours, seven days a week. Drop off controlled substances as well as non-controlled substances including expired medications and over-the-counter drugs in a drop-off box inside the store’s pharmacy. No illegal drugs, needles, lotions, liquids, aerosols (inhalers) or hydrogen peroxide. No charge.

Controlled substances

Drugs or chemicals whose manufacture, possession and use are regulated by the government; they include illegal drugs and some prescription drugs.

Walgreen’s 24-hour pharmacy (see above).

All Clark County police departments (Battle Ground, Camas, La Center, Ridgefield, Vancouver, Washougal) accept unwanted prescription pills only (no liquids, gels, aerosols or sharps needles), 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday; no fee. Empty pill bottles and foil packs, and deliver all pills together in secured plastic zipper bag. Watch newspapers and websites for drug take-back programs on designated Saturdays throughout the year.

Paint

Paint drop-off locations accept any brand of latex and oil-based paint, enamel, stains, shellac and varnishes; must be in the original can with no holes. A maximum of 10 gallons per person will be accepted each week. Items not accepted include adhesives or glues, waxes, polishes, putty, filler, tar, sealant, cleaners, foam, household hazardous cleaners or chemicals.

Free paint recycling is available at:

Clark County’s three transfer stations: Central Transfer and Recycling Center, West Van Materials Recovery Center and Washougal Transfer Station. (See box for addresses.)

Paint retailers including Ace Hardware, Filbin’s Ace Hardware, Miller Paint (four locations), Parkrose Hardware (three locations) and Rodda Paint & Décor.

Habitat for Humanity Restore, 10811 S.E. Second St.; 360-213-1313; ehfh.org/restore; 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. seven days a week. Accepts cans of latex paint, but no oil-based paint. Paint must be in the original can with the original label. The nonprofit resells and also recycles paint.

“Paint must be in liquid form, so when you shake the can, the paint has to slosh around,” said Tulana Phillips at Miller Paint in Salmon Creek. “If it’s dried up or empty, pop the lid off and toss the can in the garbage.”

Paper to be shredded

Protect against identity theft by shredding documents with sensitive information: financial statements, invoices, medical and dental records, legal records, pay stubs, tax records, vehicle records, employment records and customer information. Acceptable: staples, paper clips and binder clips, paper inside file folders. Place all papers to be shredded in document storage boxes, which can be purchased at office supply stores. Take to document shredding area at county transfer stations. Fee: $8 small box, $16 large box. If you have more than 10 document storage boxes, Lemay Mobile Shredding Services, a Waste Connections company, brings a shredder truck to your home or business. 360-514-9011 or vancouvershred@wcnx.org. Waste Connections paper shredding information: wcnorthwest.com/shredding-with-waste-connections

Plastic bags

Do not throw plastic bags in the garbage or put them in your recycling bin.

Most grocery stores have collection bins for plastic bags inside their entryways.

Printer ink cartridges  and toner cartridges

Don’t put these in your curbside recycling bin. Put them in your garbage or take them to be recycled.

Cartridge World, 2100 S.E. 164th Ave.; 360-882-4405; 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. weekdays; 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturdays. Call first to confirm your cartridge is a brand recycled here.

Office Depot, 8812 N.E. Fifth Ave., Vancouver; 360-573-9275 or 11505 N.E. Fourth Plain Blvd., Vancouver; 360-253-2048; 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. weekdays; 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday. No charge for printer cartridges or toner, cellphones, PDAs and rechargeable batteries. Tech recycling service available for a fee of $5 to $15 per box of e-waste including computers, fax machines, keyboards, monitors, printers, scanners, televisions, VCRs and DVD players. Buy a box, take it home, pack items inside and return unsealed box to store for shipping.

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