10 things to do today to reduce your waste

10 things to do today to reduce your waste

Jenica Barrett from Zero Waste Wisdom shares her insights for creating less waste.

Jenica Barrett started a new, personal journey that began with a six-month challenge. That was three years ago and it is now part of her everyday life. The challenge she set out to complete was a waste audit - where you gather your trash to tally, weigh and itemize for a week or a month.

She was a college student back then and now as a graduate student, she leads workshops and presentations about her zero-waste lifestyle.

I see myself as someone fortunate enough to educate others on the environmental impacts of our actions collectively and to provide resources for them to adjust their lifestyles for the better. I do this by dedicating a vast amount of time to keeping my blog up-to-date and offering local workshops. I provide information that anyone can apply to their own life, or they can adapt my suggestions to meet their current needs. Face-to-face interaction is also highly impactful which is why I focus a lot of time promoting the idea of waste reduction and environmental stewardship in my local community.

Rethinking how to create less waste is the goal. This can be purchasing a durable coffee mug from a resale or thrift store to buying dried cranberries from the bulk section at your local grocery store.

Ask yourself questions before a purchase, such as:

  • Do I already have something that can do the job?
  • Can I buy this second hand?
  • Is there a more durable option?
  • Can I borrow it from someone?

We all have habits – some good, some not so good – that we choose to do. What we do with our waste – recycle, compost or landfill it - is part of our habits too.

The average person produces 2.89 pounds of garbage a day per year.  That’s 1,054 pounds a year. Jenica chronicles her continued journey by showing the waste she produces each year. In 2017, she created 1.67 pounds, and it fits in a jar!

Jenica gets many questions about her lifestyle from workshop participants and online. This gives her opportunities to offer tips to reduce, reuse – and refuse. She said some people get stuck on bringing things themselves (bags, mugs, cutlery). She offers another direction if this is an obstacle – like purchasing an item in a different package. This type of shift is what opens the door to reducing and creating less waste. Keep in mind - the best choice is to avoid any product that is designed to be disposed of after one use.

The biggest thing people can do to avoid contributing to the plastic program our oceans are facing is to stop using it. Plain and simple. This can take the form of buying things in bulk, bringing your own container, and giving feedback to companies who still use excessive packaging. It is important that we start demanding change by being conscious of where our dollars are spent and make sure we are putting our money towards products that are good for the environment. We can’t kick our plastic habit overnight and I still use plastic products now and then. But unless we dramatically cut back on our reliance on disposables, these items will keep ending up in the ocean. It doesn’t matter how well we sort our recycling or whether we develop incinerators for our trash. If we are using so many disposable products, litter and pollution will continue to occur.

Here is Jenica’s list of 10 things to do today to reduce your waste:

  1. Invest in a reusable water bottle
  2. Bring your own grocery bags
  3. Bring containers for leftovers at restaurants
  4. Buy in bulk
  5. Make your own cosmetics
  6. Compost your food scraps
  7. Refuse plastic straws
  8. Purchase second hand items
  9. Switch out paper towels for cotton towels
  10. Conduct a waste audit

Jenica offers tips, advice, recipes and more on her website and through social media. Learn more at Zero Waste Wisdom.

Reduce, reuse – and refuse

Reduce, reuse – and refuse

Does your garbage can fill up fast with bulky take-out containers? Rethink how to remove plastics and single-use items at home, work or play.

Americans use 500 million straws in the United States every day! Do your part to reduce single-use items by creating a to-go kit so you’ll have what you need when you need it.

Start a new habit

Change your mindset and start a new habit. Those everyday items you use at home can find another life outside the home – that goes for replacements for napkins, cutlery, coffee and smoothie cups, water bottles, grocery and produce bags - and straws.

Try one new option and begin to be consistent until the habit takes shape. This can take the form of buying in bulk, bringing your own container or giving feedback to companies that use excessive packaging.

Remember to reuse (and reduce disposables)

Make a reusables kit for your car, day bag or bike bag. Include reusable shopping bags, a coffee or travel mug, produce bags, cutlery or small containers for leftovers. After you use something from your kit, replace it when you get home so your kit is always with you and ready for anything.

Having an on-the-go kit is good if you eat out a lot, make frequent stops at the store, or tend to forget your reusables (we all do!).

Choose to refuse unwanted items

If you don’t need the straw, plastic cutlery, napkins or a bag, say so!

Find more ways to ditch plastics at Zero Waste Wisdom. And if you really want to reduce waste, join the Plastic Free July challenge.

Put a spring back in your shoes and your step

Put a spring back in your shoes and your step

Julie Derrick, from JD Shoe Repair, shares how to get your shoes ready for warmer weather.

The weather has tossed us about this spring, but summer is on the way. Along with planting flowers and vegetables, long-awaited projects at home, and the prospect of outdoor fun, it’s time to think about your shoes!

When we switch out wool sweaters for breezy summer fabrics, it’s the perfect opportunity to switch your shoe and boot wardrobe for the season as well. Here are some tips for making that transition go smoothly.

  1. Store shoes in good condition. Look over all the shoes and boots you’ve worn most during the heavy weather. If they are basically in good shape, you can clean them yourself or take them to your local cobbler for a professional clean/shine/conditioning treatment.
  2. Seek professional help. Some things your cobbler can help you assess and repair include run-down heels, water or salt marks, holes in soles, edges coming unglued, stitches unraveled, torn linings or broken zippers.
  3. Get ready for summer. For shoes that are about to get their day in the sun: Are your elastics and Velcro closures intact? Are the foot beds in place and complete? Are you missing a buckle or rivet? Are your heels worn down on the corners? Again, your cobbler can help.
  4. Shine those sneakers. Sneakers of all types can be cleaned at home or in a shop. One tip to keep sole edges bright; try using Shout! brand spray cleaner and a nailbrush or toothbrush. Mild detergent solutions can work well for uppers.
  5. Protect your delicate shoes. Suede and light color palettes are popular for summer; keep them protected with a spray waterproofing treatment you can do at home or have a professional do for you.
  6. Prep your bags, too. Purses, backpacks, and bags should be ready for day trips and longer journeys. Make sure your hardware, like snaps and rivets, is functional. Get those items cleaned professionally by a cobbler; we recommend making a few phone calls to make sure your cobbler does this, as not everyone provides these services (JD Shoe Repair does!).

The goal is to incorporate shoe care into your seasonal patterns, like any other home projects you do two or three times a year.

In the springtime, pull out all your summer gear and go through it as you prepare your winter goods for storage. While it is spring, get all your winter boots repaired and refreshed while you’re wearing your sandals and sneakers. Then in the autumn when the rains return, you are ready to greet the wetter season with dry feet in restored shoes and boots.

It’s a healthy cycle for your wardrobe, and you will be continually in touch with your shoes, boots and bags. Your local cobbler will appreciate you for spreading out the workload too, as our trade tends to be flooded in the fall and quieter in the summer. You can likely work out bulk pricing rates and expedited turnaround times too, as cobblers want to encourage this seasonal cleanup momentum.

Most shoe repair shops sell products they recommend for care of leathers and fabrics, as well as providing the services. Feel free to ask questions and request tutorials from professionals.

And remember to have a lot of fun in the sun!

 

Spring break offers tulips, trails and tigers, oh my!

Spring break offers tulips, trails and tigers, oh my!

A break from school offers many options, both local and those farther afield from Portland, and a chance to explore and spend time together.

Plan for the whole week or just one day. Sign up for a spring break camp where you can dance, swim or create – or get outside and take a hike.

Local camps

SCRAP PDX offers Camp SCRAP, an art camp centered on themes of creative reuse. This camp is for children who love inventing, making, and bringing their creative ideas to life! Each day there will be a fun mix of staff-led projects and time for free building.

How about a one-day activity? Portland Parks & Recreation offers a large variety of options for sports, arts, dance, swimming, science and camps. Located in your neighborhood, these are offered for kids of all ages.

Find more spring break camps at PDX Parent.

City finds

Locate tigers, among other animals, at the Oregon Zoo. The Zoo offers a spring break day camp too!

Take a stroll at the Portland Japanese Garden or a hike the nearby Hoyt Arboretum Loop trail.

You gotta eat, right? There are many kid-friendly spots around town. Find a new favorite restaurant by asking your kids for ideas or try a new place you’ve been wanting to check off your list.

Find local events for the whole family.

Day trips

The 2018 Wooden Shoe Festival runs from March 23 through April 29 and includes plenty of flowers, colors and activities for the whole family.

Take a trip across the Columbia River and visit Fort Vancouver. This is a popular national park site in the Pacific Northwest, where your family can experience stories from the pioneer era at four unique sites.

Find more local spring break ideas in this article.

 

Love your stuff

Love your stuff

This Valentine’s Day, fall in love with Portland local resources to find ways to be resourceful and get more out of your stuff.

Borrow your way to more love

Do you love cooking?

Portland has many options for you to borrow kitchen tools to try them without purchasing new items. Expand your kitchen knowledge or take a food workshop at a kitchen share. NorthNortheast and Southeast Portland residents can connect with each other and find a new gadget to love.

Already thinking about giving your garden or home some love?

For those with home, yard or garden projects, locate the tool lending library based on where you live. The Green Lents Community Tool Library in East PortlandNorthNortheast or Southeast all offer residents low-to-no-cost options. Find home improvement project ideas from previous blog posts.

Or are you ready for a little space?

Clear your closet with Swap Positive, your go-to for multiple swap events throughout the year, including those for families. Share clothes and accessories you don’t love so much anymore with folks who might enjoy something different.

Keep what you love

Ready to repurpose a favorite chair or locate a well-loved heirloom?

Explore Portland’s many second-hand stores to find new-to-you clothing, furniture, electronics, household or craft items, salvage building materials and more. 

Do you have favorite items you have loved so much they need a fix?

Repair PDX offers residents free fixes for bikes, small appliances, clothing and more. Monthly repair cafes bring volunteers who love to fix stuff together with those who have broken items that need fixing.  

Find more ideas to create more love and less waste at New Dream. #morelovelesswaste

Three tips to be a thoughtful consumer in the new year

Three tips to be a thoughtful consumer in the new year

There are many benefits to becoming a more thoughtful consumer: buying less, cutting clutter and reducing waste, to name a few. As we begin a new year, consider making a small change that can help you live more resourcefully. Make it easier to adopt the change by choosing one new habit per month, or make a change to an established habit. Who knows, maybe something small will turn into even bigger changes (and benefits!) for you.

Watch Alicia on KATU Afternoon Live, where she shares these tips with host Tra’Renee.

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1.       Borrow rather than buy to cut clutter

Take advantage of the resources that Portland offers! The online map connects residents to free or low-cost options for living more resourcefully.

The map categories are repair/resale/swap shops, donation centers and lending libraries.

Portland has:

·         4 tool libraries

·         3 kitchen shares

·         3 swap and play spaces

·         1 toy library

Borrow these types of items and more  

·         Home and yard tools, power tools, table saws

·         Juicers, mixers, bread makers, canning equipment

·         Toys, games, clothes, books

These community organizations also need support! You can become a member based on the area of the city where you live and volunteer your time or donate your unused items.

The Library of Things (which lends baking equipment, board games and even karaoke machines to members) is available in Hillsboro and is coming soon to Beaverton too, through the county library system.

2.       Remember to reuse (and reduce disposables)

Make a reusables kit for your car or day bag, bike bag or purse. Include reusable bags, a coffee or travel mug, produce bags, cutlery or small containers for quick stops or on-the-go items.

After you use something from your kit, replace it as soon as you get home so your kit is always with you, ready for anything. Having an on-the-go kit is especially good if you eat out a lot, make frequent stops at the store, or tend to forget your reusables (we all do!).

3.       Resolve to redeem in 2018

As of  January 1, 2018, many more kinds of containers now carry a 10-cent deposit. These include bottles and cans for tea, coffee, fruit juice, coconut water, hard cider and kombucha. Beer, soft drinks and water containers continue to require a deposit.

By recycling these containers at a bottle redemption center, the materials are separated and turned into a clean, reliable supply of high-grade recyclable material. The materials are all processed in in the U.S., and for plastic containers, 100 percent of them are recycled in Oregon.

Of course, you can still recycle at the curb – aluminum and plastic go in the recycling cart, and glass goes separately in your other bin. But by redeeming your own containers, you get more money back in your pocket.

Find a BottleDrop Oregon Redemption Center near you!

Reduce and reuse for the holidays

Reduce and reuse for the holidays

Master Recycler volunteer, Bonita Davis, shares tips to reduce and reuse during the holiday season.

The holiday season is a time when we do more of everything, including celebrating and shopping. It can also be a time when a lot of waste is created in the process, but that doesn’t have to happen. This season, we can have some fun focusing on reducing and reusing to save money and go easy on the environment.

Watch Bonita on KATU Afternoon Live, where she shares some of these tips with host Tra’Renee.

Reduce

Choose experiences rather than things because something out of the ordinary may be the perfect gift for someone on your list – and alternative gift ideas are often waste-free. Know what your family and friends like and want – and if someone has a gift registry for a special occasion, use it!

Resourceful PDX partner, Chinook Book, offers coupons through the print edition or mobile app from local businesses and provides gift ideas and savings at your fingertips.

In the long run, durable materials save us money and significantly reduce waste. Items such as plates, utensils, glasses and linens can be new, used, borrowed or rented. Holiday meals may include leftovers. Plan ahead to save containers, like yogurt tubs, or invite guests to bring their own containers to take home extra goodies.

And don’t forget to use your reusable bags and travel mugs when you are taking advantage of holiday festivities and shopping excursions.         

Reuse

Creative reuse is the name of the game during the holidays. Reusing items and buying used materials can be fun and easy on our pocket. Make SCRAP PDX your first stop for cards, tags, bows, ribbon, gift bags and more.

Collect old maps and the Sunday comics to use as gift wrap. Or use a bandanna or kitchen towel for a no-waste gift.

Return, re-gift, or donate items you know you will not use. It is better to keep them in use with a new owner, rather than cluttering up your space with something you’ll never use. Many people need items during this time of year, so consider donating them instead.    

Find more ideas to create memories in your life in our resourceful #holiday series. 

           

Maybe holiday goodness means something more

Maybe holiday goodness means something more

Everyone has at least one person on their list that’s nearly impossible to choose a gift for. Perhaps you have a teenager who wants everything, but likes nothing. Maybe a busy mom who is always trying to put a homemade meal on the table. Or an uncle who says he has everything he needs, but you want to give him something fun during the holidays.

Fortunately, you can find a special something for everyone on your list and — bonus! — skip the retail lines to save your sanity, too.

Do something together

Wrap up cookie ingredients and include a coupon for a cookie-making playdate at your place. Make it extra special for a friend by taking care of cleanup, too. For adventure seekers, take a trip downtown together and brave the Portland underground tunnels tour.

Make it!

Portland offers many ways to make it yourself. Try a woodworking class at the ReBuilding Center, or make something special at one of the many do-it-yourself workshops around Portland.

Feed their mind

Who doesn’t love to learn something new? Portland offers nearly endless options for classes, tours, lectures, and much more. Is your uncle a cheese lover? Save him a seat in OMSI's Design Lab where he can learn to make his own cheese. Help those busy parents in the kitchen by giving them a cooking class. And for that impossible-to-please teen? Gift a video production class at Portland Community College.

Find more ideas to create memories in your life in our resourceful #holiday series. 

Meal planning tips for holidays or anytime

Meal planning tips for holidays or anytime

Whether you are planning a holiday gathering, potluck or special dinner, preparing your meals or specific dishes ahead of time allows you to get what you need with less waste. 

Save the Food offers cooks and eaters alike options for food-and-money saving tips. The latest tool is the Guest-imator, a dinner party calculator that estimates how much food you need to keep your guests full and happy. What a concept!

    Visit a local farmers’ market

    There are some farmers’ markets open year-round and even more open for Thanksgiving, so it’s a great time to get back out to the market. The farmers market map allows shoppers to find a market based on the neighborhood and the day they want to shop.

    Choose from a wide variety of seasonal food that tastes fresh and looks beautiful on your plate, including apples, pears, cranberries, winter squash, hazelnuts, walnuts, chard, kale, leeks, beets and potatoes.

    Reduce and reuse at the table

    There are many waste reduction ideas you can incorporate at the table and in the kitchen. By using durable plates, cloth napkins and serve-ware, you can add beauty to the table, save money over time and reuse these items year after year. Invite your guests to bring reusable Tupperware or casserole dishes so they can take home leftovers (or bring your own if you’re a guest so you get dibs on leftovers too!).

    Save the Food offers these top 10 meal planning tips - plus more resources and tools on their interactive website for you and your family to save both food and money.

    1. Don’t start from scratch
    2. Check the refrigerator
    3. Use portion planners
    4. Have kitchen essentials handy
    5. Use building blocks
    6. Think double duty
    7. Schedule a lazy night
    8. Go fresh fruit
    9. Lean on frozen ingredients
    10. Cook and freeze

    Let the new Chinook Book entertain you

    Let the new Chinook Book entertain you

    By Carrie Treadwell from Resourceful PDX partner Chinook Book

    The 18th annual edition of Chinook Book has arrived! As usual, it highlights local, sustainable businesses that thrive in the community by giving back. This year, there are over 600 offers in eight categories. The Chinook Book team spends time thinking about businesses and their industries and the approach and criteria with which they appear in the book.

    This book is designed to be lived.

    Ready for a night out on the town? Use the many Dining and Entertainment offers available. A meal at neighborhood restaurants, like Pollo Norte, OP Wurst or Ex Novo Brewing. Dancing at 80’s Video Dance Attack or karaoke at Voicebox. A play at Artists Repertory Theatre or Portland Center Stage. A movie at Northwest Film Center or The Academy Theater.

    Resourceful PDX shares community resources with the newly updated map (page 14 in the print edition). There are many places to go for used art supplies, building materials and clothing. Look for coupons and tips for bike shops, consignment and thrift stores, hardware stores, and bike and car sharing opportunities. Visit the new DIY Bar as well!

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    Check out all the community coupons online. The print edition includes information and resources on how to connect with local businesses that are in line with resourceful living. The app continues to improve to offer even more personalized navigation and provides savings at your fingertips.

    Find savings by using both the print book and mobile app, available at local retailers and through school and nonprofit fundraisers.