Green Neighbors Program

The Clark County Green Neighbors Program was developed and is maintained by Clark County Solid Waste and Environmental Outreach to assist citizens with developing more sustainable lifestyles and building a strong environmental community in Clark County. Solid waste regional planning and programs are a cooperative effort of Battle Ground, Camas, Clark County, La Center, Ridgefield, Vancouver, Washougal, and Yacolt. Funding for this project provided by a grant from the Washington State Department of Ecology.

Clark County makes every effort to ensure the accuracy of the information provided on this web site. However, due to the possibility of transmission errors, HTML browser capabilities, changes made since the last update to the site, etc., neither Clark County, nor any agency, officer, or employee of Clark County warrants the accuracy, reliability, or timeliness of any information published by this system, nor endorses any content, viewpoints, products, or services linked from this system, and shall not be held liable for any losses caused by reliance on the accuracy, reliability, or timeliness of such information. Portions of such information may be incorrect or not current. Any person or entity that relies on any information obtained from this system does so at his or her own risk.

In offering information on the Web, Clark County seeks to balance our requirement for public access with the privacy needs of individual citizens. Information that appears on the Clark County Web site is part of the public record. By law, it is available for public access, whether by telephone request, visiting county offices, or through other means.

This site contains links to other websites. Clark County is not responsible for the privacy practices or the content, accuracy or opinions expressed on such websites, and such websites are not investigated, monitored or checked by us for accuracy or completeness. Inclusion of any linked website on our site does not imply approval or endorsement of the linked website by us.

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Virtual Learning

We now have our workshops available on YouTube so you can watch and learn at your convenience!

Workshop FAQs

Lasagna Composting

Learn how to layer organic materials, such as food scraps and yard debris, to create a raised garden bed. This method requires no tilling or turning and allows you to build right on top of any kind of soil or grass.
More info: Workshop FAQs

Backyard Composting

Learn the art and science of backyard composting. Get all the tips and tricks on how to turn your food scraps and yard debris into rich garden soil.

More info: Workshop FAQs

Worm Bin Composting

Learn how to compost using red worms to turn food scraps into all natural fertilizer for your garden. This is a great alternative to backyard composting, especially if you are tight on space.
More info: Workshop FAQs

Green Cleaning

COMING SOON: Learn how to properly clean, sanitize, and disinfect using green cleaners. You'll also learn how to make 3 versatile household green cleaners.

More info: Workshop FAQs

Recycling Done Right

Learn how to recycle right! You'll get an in-depth explanation of what can and can't go into your recycling cart or dumpster and how the recycling process works.
More info: Workshop FAQs

Prevent Food Waste in the First Place

Learn tools to combat food waste and minimize food spoilage.

More info: Workshop FAQs

Backyard Composting FAQs

What is the best way to turn a bin?

A pitchfork, wingdinger, and shovel are all good tools to use to turn the bin. It’s more about what you prefer and works best for you.

What is the ratio of sand to linseed oil to in a sand bucket to clean your tools off?

Coming soon

Can you put fresh livestock manure directly into your pile or does it already have to be aged before adding it to your pile?

Livestock manure should be aged 3–4 months before adding it to your pile as to make sure there are no diseases in the manure. Fresh manure is also very high in nitrogen and ammonia, so it could potentially burn your plants.

Do rats ever enter the leaf mold bins?

Coming soon

Can pine needles go into your compost pile?

Pine needles can go into your compost, but they may take a while to break down.

What are the benefits of putting in coffee grounds and tea leaves?

Coffee grounds and tea leaves are both high in nitrogen and other nutrients. These count as greens.

What compost bin do you recommend for a small backyard space?

Coming soon

Would pine needles be considered a green or brown?

Coming soon

What do you recommend to prevent pests, such as raccoons, in your compost bin?

To prevent pests, do not put in meat, dairy, bones, fish, and/or grease. If these are in your bin, be sure to remove them, mix your bin and add in some fresh materials.

Can you pour potato and egg water into gardens if the soil is too dry?

Coming soon

Does the shredded paper have to be dry?

The shredded paper should be dry since it is a brown, and your greens should already have plenty of moisture. If you think that your pile is too dry, you can add some water.

Can you put in shiny paper, such as flyers or magazines?

It’s okay to put in shiny paper if you are in need of browns.

Can you use an old trash can and poke holes through it as a compost bin?

Coming soon.

How often do you need to turn your bin?

It depends on what kind of composting you are doing. If you are “hot” composting, it is recommended to turn the bin once a week to aerate your material until it no longer smells and starts to look like crumbly earth.

Is it okay to put cooked food scraps in your bin?

It I not recommended to put cooked food scraps in as they may contain oil, grease, sauces, etc. These can be hard to break down and may attract pests.

Is it okay to put in grass clippings or plants that have been exposed to chemical fertilizers? How does that affect the compost?

It is not recommended to put grass clippings or other plants that have been exposed to chemical fertilizers, especially if you are an organic farmer. This can be harmful to your health and the plants in your garden.

Why do you have to cure the compost before you can use it in your garden?

Coming soon

If you have a spinning bin, at what percent capacity should you stop loading it to allow the contents to cure?

Coming soon

Can you add waste from gutters to your compost?

Coming soon

Can you add seafood shells to your compost?

  • Yes, you can add seafood shells to your compost.

At what point do leaves go from being a “green” to a “brown?”

Coming soon

Does turning the bin speed up the process because it adds more air?

Turning the bin helps to add more air and better mix the materials.

What is the app called that helps you connect with other folks to obtain more food waste?

Coming soon

Can your compost bin be in total shade/does it need to have a certain amount of sun per day?

Your compost bin can be in the shade or in the sun.

Can you place compostable bags in your compost?

No, do not place compostable bags in your compost. The compost does not get hot enough to break them down, and they do not add any nutrients to your compost.

Preventing Food Waste FAQs

What is freezer burn?

Freezer burn usually occurs when food has been improperly stored or it has been in the freezer too long. It is more of a quality issue than a safety issue, so it is still safe to eat. It is recommended to use that food in other foods. For example, if some meat has freezer burn, you could use it in a soup or stew.

What are good options for freezer storage?

There are many options for freezer storage. You could invest in a vacuum sealer and vacuum seal your food. Other options include mason jars, reusable plastic containers, yogurt containers for short-term storage, and silicon pouches.

Can eggs be frozen in their shell?

No, do not freeze eggs in their shell. You can crack the eggs and create a scramble mixture and store that in the freezer.

Can you compost bread and pasta in your home compost?

Yes, you can compost bread and pasta, but it is important to make sure that it is covered properly as to not attract pests. It is not recommended to compost these if they contain any oils or sauces.

What are some good resources for proper storage?

The USDA has some great resources to learn more about how to store food properly. This USDA page outlines the basics of refrigeration and food safety.

Should you store bread on the counter or in the fridge?

It’s a personal preference, but bread might lose its moisture if stored in the fridge.

When is it safe to cut off mold from food?

This is a tricky question. It is said that you can cut off an inch of the food surrounding the mold, but this is not always the safest option since mold can reach deeper into the food. This is also a personal preference, so if you feel comfortable eating the food after cutting the 1-inch piece off, that is your decision.

Lasagna Garden Composting FAQs

Can you put weedblock down first?

Coming soon

Can you use any empty food boxes as cardboard for the bottom layer?

Yes, there are many different kinds of cardboard boxes you can use as the bottom layer. It is a good idea to remove the tape before you place it down, but it usually will come up to the surface as the cardboard breaks down.

Do you have a good source for cardboard?

Coming soon

Are rodents likely to dig in the garden to get to the food scraps?

Coming soon

Can you use brown yard debris bags for leaf mold?

Coming soon

What do you recommend for a cover crop in the fall?

In the fall, you can plant a die-back perennial such as asparagus or horseradish. After these die back, you will need to cover the top layer with a few inches of mulch. You can also plant a non-die-back perennial such as blueberries, roses, shrubs, grapes, and trees.

Can you put leaves in a bag to let set and make leaf mold compost?


Recycling Done Right FAQs

I agree with reducing consumption, but it seems like the US economy depends on it. What’s the alternative to consumerism for the economy?

You vote with your purchasing dollars. To move towards a more zero waste approach, try supporting reuse, repair, sharing, and bartering. Conducting a household waste audit can help you identify ways to reduce your overall waste and find alternatives.

Do labels on tin cans need to be removed?

Labels do not need to be removed, but it doesn’t hurt to remove them before you place your items into the recycling cart. You do not need to remove labels from plastics.

What do you do with Styrofoam?

Block foam can go to the transfer stations for recycling. Please never place it in the recycle cart. You can find the locations and times for the transfer stations here.

Can paper egg cartons be recycled?

Paper egg cartons are made by molding small paper fibers together. The shorter the paper fiber, the less valuable it is in the paper recycling process. It is better to compost egg cartons if possible. The current market for Clark County does accept a small percentage of them in curbside recycling.

Can milk cartons be recycled?

Yes, the Clark County curbside program accepts milk cartons and aseptic containers. They must be clean and dry.

What kind of aerosols can be recycled?

As long as aerosol spray cans are empty, they can be recycled in our program. Cooking spray, hair sprays, and spray paint cans, are all accepted. Do not place hazardous product cans in recycle cart.

Can refrigerator and freezer boxes, such as a 12-pack of soda or frozen meal box, be recycled?

Refrigerator and freezer boxes cannot be recycled in Clark County because these contain a liner called Wet Strength to make them sturdy and prevent them from getting wet. This makes them difficult to recycle. Cartons and aseptic boxes that contain orange juice, milk, soups, etc. can be recycled curbside.

Can stretchy plastic, such as bread bags, be recycled?

Yes, plastic film and bags can be taken to many grocery stores to be recycled. Never place these in the recycle cart as they can wrap around machinery at the recycling facility. This causes the whole operation to shut down multiple times a day and is dangerous for the employees to untangle and cut out.

Do plastic tubs have to be round?

Squarish tubs, such as butter tubs, are okay to recycle as long as they are clean, empty, and dry.

Can broken glass bottles or jars be recycled?

No, broken glass bottles or jars should not be placed in the recycling. Please bag broken glass and place it in the garbage.

Why do I pay for recycling?

It costs to have a recycling cart, collect the material, pay for gas/truck, the driver’s salary, etc. You also need to pay for when the machinery has to shut down due to contamination.

Can plastic lids be recycled?

Screw top caps can be left on the bottle, but lids that can easily popped off, i.e. lids for tubs, need to be thrown away. This is because our sorting system sorts objects by shape, so  a flat, plastic lid can get sorted with the paper products and contaminate the load.

Do I have to rinse bottles and cans?

Yes! Empty, clean, and dry please!

What do the recycling numbers mean on plastics?

The numbers are to indicate what type of plastic the product is made of. It is very confusing with the chasing arrows because not all plastics are recyclable. It depends on where you live and what kind of materials your Materials Recovery Facility is able to process and recycle.

Can you set out extra recycling at no charge?

Yes! Extra recycling can be set out next to your blue recycle cart at no additional cost, either contained in a cardboard box or large paper bags.

What can I do with electronics?

Certain electronics are covered in Washington’s E-waste program and can be taken to various locations around the county. You can use the Recycle Right app to find those locations.

What kinds of plastics are not allowed in the recycling cart?

The recycling system in Clark County is guided by the shape and size of objects. Plastic containers that are smaller than 6 oz. shouldn’t go in recycling carts (K-cups, small yogurts tubs, etc.). Other plastics that do not belong in the recycling cart include clamshells, takeout containers, block foam, plastic films and bags, and anything that contained hazardous waste. If it contained hazardous waste such as oil or a household cleaner, this needs to be disposed of at the transfer station.

What do you do with medications?

You can look up drop-off locations on our Recycle Right app. Many pharmacies and police stations accept medications. Please do not throw away or flush medicines down the toilet/sink. When medications enter our water system, they can pollute our streams, rivers, and lakes and cause problems for their ecosystems.

Worm Bin Composting FAQs

What do you do with your worm bin if you go out on vacation for 2–3 weeks?

As long as you feed the bin before you leave, the worms should be fine.

Can you put in paper towels and napkins as your “browns?”

Yes, you can put in paper towels and napkins.

What types of bins are recommended to use as your worm bin?

There are many different options to use as a worm bin. It is more so about what works best for you. The MCR program recommends two large plastic totes that are relatively easy to make. You can find directions on how to make it in our Worm Bin Composting brochure. Other options include a wooden box, a cylindrical bin with trays called a Can O’ Worms, and many more.

Is paper from my cross-cut shredder okay to put in?

Coming soon

How necessary/important is it to let the vermicompost rest before applying it to plants?

Coming soon

Are grass clippings and green leaves good sources of food for worms?

Coming soon

What is the lifespan of a red worm?

Worms can live up to 10 years. However, in the wild where there are many predators, the average lifespan for a worm is 1–2.

Can you avoid leachate if you keep enough browns in the bin?

Coming soon

How often should you feed the bin?

A pound of redworms can eat up to a pound of food in a week. Check the bin weekly and feed as necessary.

What is the best type of bin for a person new to vermicomposting to use (migrating bin vs. large bin)?

Coming soon

Do you ever mix your worm bin?

No, it is not necessary to mix your worm bin.

My worms eat through the food, but there are clumps of paper leftover. Why is this happening and is it okay to set aside to rest and then apply to my garden?

Coming soon

How do I check the pH level?

Coming soon

What is the ideal temperature to keep the worms safe and cozy?

The ideal temperature for a worm bin is between 55° and 75° Fahrenheit. If temperatures are too extreme, i.e. too cold or too hot, they may die.

What does it mean when your vermicompost is still wet and not crumbly like soil?

If your vermicompost is still wet, then that means there is too much moisture in the bin and you need to add more dry materials to absorb the water.

Is there a particular season that the results of worm composting can be used or stored?

Coming soon

Can you use coconut fiber (coir) for bedding?

Yes, you can use coconut fiber for bedding. Newspaper and shredded paper also make for good bedding.

Would you put ice in on a hot day?

No, you do not need to put ice in on a hot day as it could be too cold for the worms. If you are worried about the worms getting too hot, you may want to move the bin to a cooler location.

Green Cleaning FAQs

Does the efficacy of the cleaners decrease if they sit unused for months?

Does the efficacy of the cleaners decrease if they sit unused for months?


Do you have a solution for stubborn mildew/mold on shower grout?

Do you have a solution for stubborn mildew/mold on shower grout?

Tea tree oil is effective at getting rid of mildew/mold, so you can add a few drops to an all-purpose solution. Spray the spot and let it sit for 15 minutes, and then scrub, this should help to get rid of the mildew/mold.

Do you have a recipe for hand soap?

Do you have a recipe for hand soap?

You can fill pumps with Castile soap.

What can you use for laundry soap?

What can you use for laundry soap?

You can create a dry laundry soap using washing soda, borax, and natural, unscented bar soap. To make it, grate the bar soap until finely ground. Then, in a large bowl, mix 2 cups of borax, two cups of borax, and the grated soap. Store in a container such as a mason jar.

What do you recommend to clean wood floors?

What do you recommend to clean wood floors?

This is dependent on the type of wood floor. A true hard wood floor needs to be condition. Pergo needs just a laminate floor cleaner. You can use Murphy’s oil in a spray bottle for deeper cleaning.

What is the ingredient that shouldn’t be used on vinyl floors because it will strip it?

What is the ingredient that shouldn’t be used on vinyl floors because it will strip it?

You should not use washing soda.

Can vinegar hurt marble surfaces?

Can vinegar hurt marble surfaces?

It can. You would want to test a spot first to see if there is a problem. Vinegar can damage quartz, so it is always best to test.

How do you get rid of soap deposits from the shower?

How do you get rid of soap deposits from the shower?

You can add a few drops of lemon essential oil to the all-purpose cleaner. Spray, let it sit for about 15 minutes, and then scrub.

How do you get rid of iron deposits on toilets, sinks, laundry machine, etc.?

How do you get rid of iron deposits on toilets, sinks, laundry machine, etc.?

A solution is to spray the area with vinegar or hydrogen peroxide and allow it to sit overnight. Then scrub it with a toothbrush, cloth, or mildly abrasive sponge.

Where can you find washing soda?

Where can you find washing soda?

You can find washing soda at Walmart and Winco.

What type of spray bottle can you use? I have tried several plastic ones but the squirter stops squirting.

What type of spray bottle can you use? I have tried several plastic ones but the squirter stops squirting.

You can repurpose old apple cider vinegar and soy sauce bottles and purchase the sprayers on Amazon or Home Depot online. The sprayers screw right into the bottle.

Where can you find essential oils?

Where can you find essential oils?

New Season, Natural Grocers, and Whole Foods all carry them. You can also find them at any of the Co-Ops in Portland and online.

Where do I find info on disposing old household cleaners?

Where do I find info on disposing old household cleaners?

You can find information on Recycling A-Z or the Recycle Right app. Household cleaners can be disposed of at any of the three transfer stations in Clark County.

Is there a local Facebook group for zero waste/green cleaning?

Is there a local Facebook group for zero waste/green cleaning?

Coming soon
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