Jun. 17—If you are piling up plastic grocery bags, ratty clothes and burnt-out lightbulbs that you can't bring yourself to throw in the garbage because you're just sure there must be a better way to dispose of them, well, you're right.
You can pay a service to collect hard-to-recycle items at your doorstep.
Ridwell, founded in Seattle three years ago, recently expanded to Portland and now is enrolling residents of Vancouver, Hazel Dell and Salmon Creek. Signups begin today.
The service costs $12 to $16 a month for pickups every two weeks, with the lowest price for those who pay ahead for a whole year, said Taylor Loewen, Ridwell's manager for Southwest Washington. The service is offering the first month free, she said.
Ridwell doesn't replace municipal curbside recycling and garbage pickup.
"We are looking at what the market is missing," Loewen said. "We want to be complementary and not compete."
Ridwell supplies you with a bin and five canvas bags: one for lightbulbs, one for plastic bags, one for textiles, one for batteries, and a fifth for a rotating category. (For an additional $1, you can also put out a bag of clear plastic clamshell boxes, the kind berries often come in at the grocery store.)
"Ridwell only works with North American recyclers," Loewen said. "Nothing is going overseas."
For example, plastic clamshells go to Green Impact Plastics, headquartered in California, which shreds them into plastic flakes and pellets to make new containers. Worn-out clothes go to Pioneer Wiping Cloth in Portland, which turns them into cleaning rags and other products. Plastic bags and film goes to Trex, headquartered in Virginia, which turns them into composite decking.
The fifth bag rotates among a long list of miscellaneous items — corks, electronics, school supplies, holiday lights, kids clothes.
Ridwell recently collected 8,000 gently used bras in Seattle and Portland for Vancouver-based National Women's Coalition Against Violence & Exploitation, which provides them to those in need.
Michelle Bart, president of NWCAVE, praised Ridwell's work.
"They are an awesome organization to partner with," Bart said. She also looks forward to using the service as a Vancouver resident. "They take things we don't think twice about throwing away."
For example, Bart said she was surprised to learn her wine corks could make new flooring.
Although individuals could find places to take these items on their own, Ridwell is positioned to do it on a larger scale, Loewen said.
Ridwell undertakes collections with its carbon footprint in mind, she added, which is why it wouldn't launch service in Vancouver until it had at least 1,000 interested households.
"We work to make responsible disposal accessible and seamless," Loewen said.
Pickups begin June 28 for west-side locations and July 12 for east Vancouver. Ridwell is also exploring adding routes Camas.
For more information or to sign up, go to ridwell.com.