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Buy smart

 Bring your own bags to reduce waste at the grocery store

Bring your own bags to reduce waste at the grocery store

Reduce and reuse

You can help reduce waste by reusing plastic bags of any kind. If you reuse them even once, you’ll end up using half as many. Keep them in a place where they’ll get reused, like your car or your kitchen.

Plastic bags and plastic wrap cannot be recycled at home. Throw them in the garbage.

Keep plastic bags of any type out of your recycling bin. The same goes for plastic wrap, which includes things like cling wrap and the packaging for toilet paper and paper towels.

The City of Portland has had a plastic bag ban since 2011 and Oregon passed a statewide ban this legislative session. That means plastic bags will no longer be available at stores throughout the state, and there will be a fee on paper bags.

Plastic bags and plastic wrap create big problems. They can end up as litter, impacting the environment. You can make a difference by reusing them or not using them in the first place.

So now is a good time to remember to bring your own bag. Pack your durable containers in reusable bags to take to the store and that can be used for years. As a bonus, many grocery stores offer a refund if you bring your own bag. 

Tips to remember reusable bags:

·         Return bags to your car or bike.

·         Store bags near your house keys.

·         Keep a small bag in a purse or backpack.

·         Put a reminder on your grocery list.

Want help sorting it out?

Recycle or Not is a new community resource created by Metro and local government partners in the greater Portland, Oregon, area. These agencies are working to reduce waste and protect the environment by sharing information about how to recycle right.

Read (or listen) to this NPR story about sorting out plastics at the grocery store.

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Choose to refuse

Choose to refuse

Say no to unnecessary take-out items because these items belong in the garbage

  • Take advantage of the discounts local businesses offer for bringing your own coffee mug and reusable shopping bag.

  • For to-go orders, take only what you need.

  • If you don’t need the straw, fork, spoon, cup, condiments, containers, or a bag, say so! Hundreds of Portland restaurants and bars have switched to offering straws only upon request or asking if you need single-use items.

  • Another step to reduce single-use waste is to have what you need when you need it. Make a to-go kit for your car, day bag or bike bag that includes grocery bags, a coffee mug, silverware or small containers for leftovers.

A costly habit

Single-use items — from paper napkins and coffee cups to straws and plastic bags — have been in the news a lot lately, and for good reason. We use many items for just a few minutes before throwing them away. Disposable products may provide convenience and ease at home and on the go, but they require natural resources, energy and water, which increases carbon emissions that contribute to climate change.

In Portland, all plastic and paper to-go items should be tossed in the garbage.

They do not belong in the recycling or compost bins, even if they claim to be compostable.

With a little effort we can reduce the disposable stuff we throw away to prevent waste and save money.

When is “compostable” not compostable?

Items labeled “compostable” or “biodegradable” belong in the garbage. The labels are well-intentioned, but they’re not always accurate. Many products that are labeled “compostable” or “biodegradable” don’t break down at our local composting facilities.

Do not put them in your recycling or compost bins.

Find more inspiration from a previous post about the 10 things you can do to reduce your waste and read a New York Times article about people trying to live plastic free (spoiler: It’s hard, but doable!).

Ready to pledge to go plastic-free in July? You can do that too!

 

When used clothing surpasses fast fashion

When used clothing surpasses fast fashion

Alicia Polacok from the Bureau of Planning and Sustainability shares what she learned about sustainable fashion and how to waste less clothing.

The Sustainable Fashion Forum was held in Portland in April, providing an opportunity for those in the fashion industry – and those who may be curious (like me!) to learn more – to have an open dialogue about the social and environmental effects fashion has on our world and what we can do to improve it. 

A panel of experts spoke on a variety of topics from cities around the country. There were plenty of Portland connections too, including panelists, stylists and more.

From learning about fair trade certified clothing and what personal stylists can do for you, to thinking about repurposing and repairing, the day was packed with new ideas, tips and tricks, and professionals who can help if you need more inspiration!

Repair, Repurpose, Reinvent

The world of fashion has an overproduction issue. We have plenty of clothes to choose from, so why not wear what you already own, or shop at thrift stores to add to your wardrobe in new ways. Extending the life of our clothing is key and we can do this by wearing what’s in our closet. Organize by color, category and try new things together. One stylist said if you get compliments, then it is working! Confidence is key.

Here’s an idea from a stylist that I am going to try too: Take out 10-15 of your favorite pieces from your closet and put them away for a week. This will force you to wear other stuff you have instead and experiment with different styles.

Another stylist who specializes in buying used clothes at local thrift stores gave this advice: Shop early and often and return to the same places. Once you find some signature pieces, have them altered to fit your body type. Know your body type and measurements, especially when shopping online. Try an item in a new way before getting rid of it, especially if it’s a signature piece. Wear it inside out, backwards, upside down, or experiment and mix-and-match with pieces you already own. Fashion is about breaking the rules with shapes, colors and textures.

A collective path to sustainability

The forum also shared what happens to clothes that make their way to donation centers that can’t use them. Not surprisingly, a large percentage are sent abroad. It is tough to combat these practices, however there are alternatives.

The Fair Trade Certified campaign, We Wear Fair, informs shoppers who is behind the clothes we buy, supporting livelihoods for factory workers and creating transparency in the fashion industry. Consumers drive change when they shop their values, so get informed on brands that are certified by learning more with the guide to fair trade clothing.

FABSCRAP is trying to do something about reusable fabric. Sorting is a difficult but important part of the process by separating out the types of materials that are recyclable. Fabrics that can be recycled are cotton, polyester and wool. Mixed materials may end up as “shoddy”, which is a shred material and not recyclable.

FABSCRAP started in response to waste in the fashion industry in New York City, and shows those in the industry that there is financial and environmental value in materials, by offering reuse and recycling options instead.

The Renewal Workshop in Cascade Locks, Oregon, is about waste minimization. They take discarded apparel and textiles and turn them into Renewed Apparel, upcycled materials or recycling feed stock. They provide the apparel industry a circular and sustainable solution and offer customers a way to become zero waste consumers.

There was so much good stuff shared at the event. You can learn more from these related resources:




Shwop is your local membership swap shop

Shwop is your local membership swap shop

Shwop is a membership-based swap boutique for the whole family. It is the smart way to shop and swap your unwanted or unused items in your closet, drawers and jewelry boxes. Everyone shops, members swap!

Owner Marci Pelletier is celebrating both the shop’s seventh anniversary and a recent membership drive that reached 1,000 members. Marci is celebrating both highlights on April 20, 2019.

She found the current location in Sellwood in October 2018 after she outgrew a few other places in Portland. The inventory comes from members and takes items for the family, including men’s and kid items too. They don’t care about seasons and if it’s the right time of year (think sweaters in the summer!) like some used clothing stores do. And they aren’t brand or style specific, which also sets them apart from consignment shops.

The website includes a menu of accepted items, including:

  • Clothes – pants, shirts, sweaters

  • Shoes

  • Jewelry

  • Coats, jackets, fleece

  • Exercise attire

  • Belt, scarves, hats

Marci shares shop and volunteer needs through social media and frequent membership communications. There is structure around volunteering for those who have capacity to help and she welcomes volunteers to sort on Mondays, when the store is closed.

She has offered free pop-up stores for schools during conferences and worked with teachers on clothing drives, particularly in outer Southeast Portland. She sees a need to help others who may have fallen on hard times. Twice a year, she hosts free weekends with no questions asked.

She is hosting events, like tie dye and upcycled t-shirt workshops. These are free to members and open to the public for a small fee.

There is recycling, and reuse efforts made for items not sellable or wearable. Some textiles and fabrics find homes through relationships with artists; items like denim, flannel and cashmere that can be upcycled into usable, sellable goods.

Here are several ways to Shwop!

  1. Become a member: Swap to your heart's content.

  2. No-swap shopping: Just stop by and shop.

  3. Donate: Clean your closet of those items you're not wearing, and they'll donate a shopping voucher to others in need.

Curious about this membership-based swap shop? Learn more about Marci from a previous blog post, get your questions answered online or visit the store for yourself!

Buy to Last with BuyMeOnce

Buy to Last with BuyMeOnce

The holidays are a great time to reconsider what we buy.  A recent article in the New York Times about buying items to last resonates this time of year because Resourceful PDX is about thoughtful consumption. The article highlights one woman’s journey to find long-lasting items that are built to last. The story features Tara Button, the creator of BuyMeOnce. Their tagline reads: We find the longest lasting products on the planet. To save you stress, to save you money, to save the planet.

The gist is to move away from throwaway. Seeking items that can last a lifetime may seem old-fashioned, or from another era. However, disposable items or those that are made to break (also known as planned obsolescence) are a waste, in more ways than one.

Instead, BuyMeOnce suggests seeking items for yourself or for others that stand the test of time. From socks and sweaters to blenders and mixing bowls, you can search for what you need or want, and get ideas for the holidays too.

Categories online include:

·         Kitchenware

·         Living

·         Electricals (i.e. appliances and gadgets)

·         Leisure

·         Beauty

·         Kids, women’s and men’s items

If you must give a gift of something, consider an item that the receiver wants, needs and is built to last their lifetime.

Find out more about BuyMeOnce. And check out the Resourceful PDX blog for more local options to buy smart!

Reclaim the holidays

Reclaim the holidays

Customers at ReClaim It! and Community Warehouse Estate Store told us why they choose to give gently used gifts during the holidays and all year round.

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

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Sam

“There are so many stories to be told through other people’s items. To re-gift them to another human creates the next chapter in the story.”

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Kyle

“I look for raw materials like reclaimed old-growth wood to make a memorable gift for family or friends.”

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Ann Marie

“I celebrate people in my life by giving experiences, homemade gifts and sharing my time.”

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Riah

“I love to create and repurpose with old items and give them a second life. This is also my favorite way to gift those who are special to me.”

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CK

“The chances of finding something unique are so much greater at resale places and I usually discover special things that remind me of someone I care about.”

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Lloyd

“I take friends out on adventures, make them mix tapes, or really anything I think would make them feel loved and appreciated.”

Find (more) holiday inspiration and creative gift ideas

Find (more) holiday inspiration and creative gift ideas

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The holidays are upon us - and that means consideration of how we celebrate the people in our lives.

We can choose to do things differently. Here’s information on two sources that provide ideas outside the gift box.

More fun and less stuff

New Dream empowers individuals, communities, and organizations to transform the ways they consume to improve well-being for people and the planet. They’ve been offering alternatives about gifting for many years, including extensive information and resources about how to celebrate the holidays in ways that are lighter on the planet and your wallet.

The SoKind Registry is a registry and wishlist service that encourages the giving of homemade gifts, charitable donations, secondhand goods, experiences, time, day-of-event help, and more.

Check out the gift ideas section!


Create memories, not garbage

Metro Vancouver, our neighbors to the North have a holiday campaign called Create memories, not garbage.

There is a collection of creative gift ideas, tips for gift wrapping and ideas for celebrating the season – all with the intention to create memories and reduce waste this holiday season.

Get inspired with gift ideas by price range too with the Merry Memory Maker.

Note: The specific places are in and around Vancouver, BC. Check out the Resourceful PDX map for local organizations.

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

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The Buyerarchy of Needs

The Buyerarchy of Needs

Are you already overwhelmed with stressful holiday errands and overspending? Worried about getting buried in all the packaging?

Consider a new low-waste way to approach the holidays this year that might save you some money and bring you a little more joy. The Buyerarchy of Needs is a visual guide to remind you of your other options besides buying something new.

As you look over your holiday lists, take a creative moment and ask yourself:

Is there something I already have I could use in a new way? Could I borrow or swap to get what I need? Maybe a thrift or resale shop has it? Can I make it?

Intrigued? Resourceful PDX is your local resource for tips and ideas to make simple changes in everyday choices. In fact, the Resourceful PDX map includes community-based organizations that help residents reuse, swap, repair and share such items as tools, building or art supplies, household goods or other materials rather than throwing away or buying new.

Resolve to be a thoughtful consumer in the new year to save money and resources. Explore the website for more ideas and tips in our resourceful #holiday series. 

Learn how The Buyerarchy of Needs came to be by designer and illustrator, Sarah Lazarovic.

Chinook Book offers delicious discoveries

Chinook Book offers delicious discoveries

By Carrie Treadwell from Resourceful PDX partner Chinook Book

The arrival of the 19th annual edition of Chinook Book includes over 100 Dining offers, with new ones available each month in the mobile app.

Breakfast, lunch and dinner options? Check.

Coffee, tea, beer and wine? Check.

Pizza, sandwiches, donuts and ice cream? Check.

Some new and exciting favorites that are part of this year’s offers include:

  1. Breakside Brewery

  2. Spielman Bagels

  3. Bridgeport Brew Pub

  4. Besaws

  5. XLB

  6. Pollo Bravo

  7. Willamette Valley Vineyard

The Chinook Book highlights local, sustainable businesses that thrive in the community by giving back. There are over 500 offers in seven categories this year. The Chinook Book team spends time thinking about businesses and their industries and the approach and criteria with which they appear in the book. The Bureau of Planning and Sustainability and Resourceful PDX included!

Find savings by using both the print book and mobile app, available at local retailers and through school and nonprofit fundraisers. And don’t forget, every book includes a 12-month app subscription!

 

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The Chinook Book map includes many resources that are also part of the Resourceful PDX map

Back-to-school shopping: Think local, buy used

Back-to-school shopping: Think local, buy used

Get kids ready to go back-to-school with local resources. There are many places to buy smart to help save time and money.

The back-to-school shopping season accounts for about 50 percent of annual school-related spending and impacts approximately one-quarter of U.S. households. The average spending per household is $510!

While clothing and school supplies dominate back to school lists, the highest average spending is for computers and hardware. Here’s a breakdown of the average spending per family in each category:

  • Computers & hardware $299
  • Clothing & accessories $286
  • Electronic gadgets $271
  • School supplies $112

Look for local options first

Free Geek makes buying repurposed electronics of all kinds an option for any student with their focus on digital inclusion. Computer systems are the focal point of their thrift store space and you can also donate old computers and electronic equipment.

PDX Parent offers a list of the many consignment, resale and used clothing shops in the Portland region.

SCRAP PDX has supplies to create DIY one-of-a-kind items for school, like pencil bags from fabric, zippers and found objects, or to customize last year’s backpacks by adding sew-on patches or letters. They have paper of all colors and sizes, markers, pens, colored pencils, plus so much more.

If you are you interested in diving into more about back to school spending, there’s a survey about insights on spending and shopping trends. In the current survey, 98 percent of people said they plan to buy clothing and accessories and school supplies.

Check out past posts about kids in school - and use the Resourceful PDX map to locate resources near you.