A Progressive City with a Trashy Problem

Portland, Oregon is one of the most progressive cities in the U.S., but it doesn't mean it's immune to plastic pollution and litter. One local environmentalist describes what she found on a recent garbage clean-up, and how the Greenpeace Brand Audit is helping to connect the plastic trash she saw to the corporations that produce it.

My name is Dena Turner. I am an outdoor enthusiast with a strong desire to preserve our planet and wild spaces. Outdoor activities feed my soul and counteract the darkness currently seen in our society and politics. I need wild spaces, an ocean free from plastic pollution, clean air, clean water, and a livable planet.

I am greatly concerned about the lack of caring for our planet, humanity’s trashing of our surroundings, and the corporate players who choose ever more plastics packaging for their products.  Where I live, in the city of Portland, we care about sustainability —we ride bikes, have excellent transit, and compost our food waste.  While we are progressive, much of the city is plagued with an ever-present trash and plastic litter problem.

Environmentalist Dena Turner on a hike in the Pacific Northwest.

During a clean-up we did recently, we found litter everywhere — on streets, sidewalks and parking areas, where it was recently tossed out or mushed down into leaves at our curbsides, residing until our city street sweepers can remove it.  We know this from participating in a community clean-up, and by carrying out a Greenpeace Brand Audit. After picking up all the trash, we sifted through what we collected to identify the types of plastic waste we found, and which corporate brands were tied to each product. This audit helps Greenpeace identify the key producers of plastic pollution that we see on our streets and in our oceans.

The clean-up also confirmed our long-held feelings that trash cans are sorely needed in public areas, especially in more populated spaces.  We hauled home the trash we found and put plastics litter in our recycling bins, as there are so few trash cans in public places.

Dena and her team found plastic trash all over the city of Portland.

I am delighted that Greenpeace is doing a national plastics clean-up and brand audit. Our metropolitan area is in the midst of a two-year evaluation of garbage and recycling and my team plans to take our Greenpeace audit to the local government as it considers the future of waste and recycling.  We are also reaching out to other local groups, in an effort to make our collective voice heard in the fight against plastic pollution.

By: Dena Turner


Doing a garbage clean-up in your community and want to help inform our work? Check out our trash clean-up toolkit and fill out our Brand Audit to tell us the plastic brands you found!

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