Where Do I Put All of This?! A PDX Guide to Holiday Recycling


Every year after the holidays I am overcome with this intense urge to purge and donate all of our belongings. There’s nothing like reading the articles about making do with less “stuff” (while being bombarded with non-stop advertising), paired with the all of the new items our families so generously gift to us, to have me constantly on the edge of bagging it all up and getting rid of it. 

I haven’t quite gone that far (not since we moved here anyway, but that’s a story for a different post), but I am much more aware of the things in our home that we do not use. Or need. Or have too much of. Plus, there are those bags of packaging from the gifts that we unwrapped in the garage that I haven’t figured out what to do with yet. Is any of it recycling? Do I just put it all in the trash? If I put it all in the trash, how long will it be before it ends up in the ocean?  

That is always the bigger overarching question in my mind – what do I DO with all of the extra?! Extra wrapping, extra packaging, extra items we no longer need or use. I’ve learned enough in the last few years about the realities of landfills and recycling to know that while putting five overstuffed trash bags into the dumpster may satisfy my desire to live without clutter, all of the things in said bags will end up somewhere else.

My solution this holiday season is to be more proactive in making sustainable gift purchases for my family and friends and also in my purging methods of our excess. Keep reading below to find where in PDX you can send your “extras” to be recycled properly or to be donated for others who could use it.

Styrofoam packaging

Bring the styrofoam that comes with assembly-required furniture or toys and with more fragile items to the people at Agilyx. They have a drop box located in their Tigard parking lot that is available 24/7 to take household quantities of styrofoam and polystyrene off of your hands. They accept anything with a #6 or PS marked on it, but no packing peanuts!


Unused, out-of-date electronics are definitely one of the things collecting dust in my garage. I’ve found multiple services in the Portland Metro area that offer drop-off or home pick-up options for electronics (and often many other things!), including Far West Recycling, Technology Conservation Group, and SBC Recycle. Metro offers an easy to use online directory to help you find recycling locations for many different materials near you. 

Daisy the plastic polar bear at the Oregon Zoo

Fred Meyers in Tualatin is also hosting a Green Days Event on January 11, 2020. You can bring your block styrofoam, plastic wrap, batteries, electronics, rechargeable batteries and cardboard to be recycled. There will also be meet & greet opportunities with Trailblazer personalities and the chance to win prizes and Blazer Tickets! Donations are also being accepted for the Oregon Food Bank. 


Many local recycling centers have stopped accepting plastic since China tightened up their regulations around what recycled materials they would purchase from US facilities. Luckily for us, Fred Meyer locations accepts plastic bags, plastic food storage bags, plastic wraps and bubble wrap in bins located near the carts. The clean, dry plastic is then shipped out to make composite decking materials. 

Toys/Clothes and Baby gear 

This is by far my most often needed donation category. My kids are constantly outgrowing clothes, outgrowing toys, or just simply acquiring more. I love the convenience of the drive through drop-offs at Goodwill, but sometimes I want the items that I am donating to go to people who need them, instead of being sold for a profit by a corporation. Rose Haven, the Children’s Book Bank and Northwest Children’s Outreach are just a few of the local resources that accept gently used clothing and toys, infants through teen/maternity. With Love and the Mother and Child Education Center also accept baby gear and furniture.

Terracycle Programs

Terracycle offers a free membership program that allows you to gather a type or brand of hard-to-recycle items and packaging (think baby food pouches, toothpaste tubes, etc), print out a shipping label and send it in to the company to be recycled. Here are links to just a few of their programs: Hasboro toys, LOL Surprise!, Burt’s Bees and Once Upon a Farm.

It might take some creative sorting systems to get your post-holiday life back into order, but think of the guilt-free recycling with these options! Are there other local recycling options or locations that your family uses? 

Previous articleThere’s No Place Like NOT Home for the Holidays
Next articleMoms Who Meditate
Katie L
Katie is a recent East Coast transplant from Maine, where she was born and raised. While trying to figure out how to create the life they wanted to live, Katie’s husband, David, was presented with a job opportunity in Portland. They decided to go for it and moved across the country with their two young children. Katie has previously worked as an occupational therapist in an early childhood setting, but with the move was presented with the opportunity to stay home with her kids and she took it! It has been an adventure switching to life as a full time stay-at-home mom to her five-year-old daughter and three-year-old son. She spends her days exploring Portland’s playgrounds and coffee shops, looking for new vegetarian restaurants to check out, and trying to remember that slowing down is a good thing. Since arriving in Portland, she has begun making time for all of the things that have caught her interest over the years: yoga, cooking with local foods, experimenting with sustainable lifestyle choices, writing and getting outside in the always beautiful PNW.