I’m in Portland, Oregon, a city I’ve long heard about as a model green community. There’s no doubt about that: free tram service downtown is the most obvious sign of this, but the hotel too is greener than usual. It’s always bothered me to throw away all the paper that accumulates at conferences, but here I can recycle both paper and my plastic yoghurt tubs, easily in my hotel room. Here’s a photo of the recycling bag.

I had to get some printing done and had a funny conversation about recycling with the guy there. He had made up a sign about what to put in the paper bin, copied below, and said, “They just don’t get it, why they can’t put in chipboard or plastic juice bottles!” Even here, waste separation isn’t obvious to everyone.

The sign read:

You hate the environment if you put the following items in the recycle bins:


[no carbon required] paper
Paper clips
Window envelopes
Yogurt containers
Anything that is sticky

Materials that can be recycled!
All clean paper
Non-window envelopes
Post-it notes
Paper packaging (most)