Today’s WasteNot article concludes the discussion about the expansion of the Oregon Bottle Bill by sharing how Ashland has been pro-active. Part One appeared in the Jan. 19 Tidings.

The focus is on local efforts to create a modest and successful pilot and program with minimal cost. If you keep reading you will hear about the generosity of some of our downtown businesses who will be mentioned shortly. To give a little background inspiration, approximately six years ago the Ashland Parks Department started to attach baskets to some of the trash cans in Lithia Park. You may recall that some had “recycle” signs on them. Today their baskets can be found throughout the city’s parks, trails and dog park. In fact, there are more than 30 in various locations. Thank you Ashland Parks for initiating this program!

A couple of years ago the Ashland Conservation Commission (thanks to a nudge from a former parks commissioner) was motivated to bring the bottle and can basket collection option downtown. The sole purpose of these baskets is to provide a convenient place to drop bottles and cans once the drink has been consumed. Maybe you have noticed these cute little baskets attached to some of the trash cans? The baskets in the park are managed by the parks department and the ones in the downtown area have been adopted by some stellar businesses that check them regularly for contamination.

The redeemable bottles and cans in the baskets are for the taking and it seems to be working great. Each bottle and can, after all, is worth 10 cents. It is no small feat to come up with a cheap, simple and effective way to offer “public” collection for anything but trash. When any “recycling” collection container is unmonitored, which means there is no person standing there, nor a place (material recovery facility) to sort through and remove contamination, it too often ends up creating greater amounts of waste and expense.

China’s rejection of the dirty recycling the U.S. and other nations have been dumping on China demonstrates the results of our failings to deliver clean materials. The thinking behind collecting only redeemables (deposit containers) is that they have a monetary value which may create an incentive to save the item and collect the 10 cents. Other recycling is more complicated and runs a greater risk of contamination by being dirty or an item not recyclable locally.

One of the great things about the basket is that it is in a shallow container, easily visible (see through), easily accessed (no digging through) which encourages the “right stuff” going in, which increases our success. A sign with a photo is also helpful for the user. Items not destined to the landfill require constant attention and often sorting to ensure a clean stream.

If you have yet to notice the baskets downtown or in other areas around town, please look out for them now that you know they are there. Please check out the names of the sponsoring businesses who have volunteered to help our town accomplish some waste prevention while being efficient with our limited resources. Their name is on each basket sign on the lower left side.

As of January, fourteen baskets have been adopted by the following businesses downtown: Full Circle Real Estate, Greenleaf Restaurant, Sunday Afternoons, Ashland Outdoor Store, Ashland Starbucks, Jackson County Restaurant Alliance, Ashland Conservation Commission, Flip, Mix, Ashland Community Development and Engineering Services, Mountain Provisions, Standing Stone Brewing Company, Wells Fargo and Shepherd’s Dream.

Please let them know you appreciate their contributions to our community!

On a related note:Please join me at 6 p.m. tonight (Thursday) in Taylor Hall (Room 28/31) on the SOU campus for a viewing of the film “The Clean Bin Project.” SOU has been celebrating Zero Waste Week with several events. If you are looking to be inspired to make less trash, you won’t want to miss this free film and discussion. More info is available at:

—Risa Buck has served on the Ashland Conservation Commission and in waste prevention education for more than a dozen years. You may reach her through Find past WasteNot columns online at