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creative reuse

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:




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.”

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.

DIY Bar: Where people come to get their craft on

DIY Bar: Where people come to get their craft on

By Alicia Polacok, Resourceful PDX partner Bureau of Planning and Sustainability

Brothers Adam and Jason Gorske opened DIY Bar in April 2017 as a long-held dream come true. It is a gathering place to work on individual crafts from their project menu while enjoying beer, cider or wine.

I visited on a Friday evening with three friends to get the story of this business from the brothers – and try my hand at a craft.

Coming from a close family, Adam and Jason always thought they would work together in some capacity. When they both found themselves in Portland in 2015, the dream started to take shape into a business. One where their respective skills and interests came into play - reusing, tinkering and mastering a sense of accomplishment.

For DIY Bar, it involved reusing old materials to repurpose into something new and building things based on their home improvement project experiences. Adam explained that salvage materials from the ReBuilding Center and Salvage Works were used to create the facade of the host stand, shelving for project supplies and the inside of the bar.

A place for crafty (and not so crafty) people

The idea for DIY Bar was inspired by paint and sip places, where you can enjoy a beverage while painting with step-by-step instructions and take home something unique.

Adam and Jason have done the work for you to find the projects, gather the tools and materials needed to make beautiful and functional crafts. To maintain consistency, the project materials are new, while the tools are reused by guests.

Adam said, “The future may include collaboration with other organizations and an interest in featuring local artists to do more intensive and in-depth projects.”

The most popular item on the 16-project menu is the rustic nail and string art. There are templates to choose from, or staff will help you create something one-of-a kind. During my visit – my three friends all chose string art projects. Because I put myself in the not-so-crafty category, I was daunted, so chose a leather beer koozie project instead. I love koozies (and beer) so why not try to make my own?!

With detailed step-by-step instructions in hand, and my questions answered by staff, I completed my koozie. There was still time for a drink and to mingle with others in the space. The friendly atmosphere encouraged people to see what others were making and celebrate their finished works of art.

The evening my friends and I were there, the place was full, and it turned out about one-third of the customers were from out of town. Tourists. Coming to experience a bit of Portland while visiting the city.

Feeling inspired? Check out the DIY Bar frequently asked questions to learn more before booking a space.

 

Creative repurposing offers fresh approach to home projects

Creative repurposing offers fresh approach to home projects

Written by Tim Smith on behalf of guest blogger Lynn Feinstein, Möbius Home 

With a bit of ingenuity, a minimal amount of work and a creative imagination, you can redecorate your home's interior and exterior without spending much money. The environment also benefits when utilizing materials already on hand to decorate a room or outdoor area. 

Recreating Old Furniture Pieces

When you think “out of the box,” there is no end to the design creation. An old dresser turns into a beautiful window seat. After removing the dresser legs, lay a decorative cushion or blanket and some throw pillows on the top of the dresser and place in a window with a view, interior walkway or room corner. The top of the dresser functions as the seating space. Additionally, the dresser drawers provide convenient storage space.

Whether or not you should add a coat of paint depends on your design preference. Leaving the dresser in the original state creates an antique “shabby chic” style while a coat of paint creates the perfect modern accent piece for any room. Using this same dresser concept produces a versatile coffee table with built in drawers as well as a child’s toy box.

For more dresser ideas, see 6 Great New Used for a Vintage Dresser.

An old baby crib can become a decorative quilt or magazine rack in very little time and with hardly any effort. Once you remove the side railing sections of the crib, simply display them vertically against any wall. Hang your favorite quilts over the individual posts or drape magazines, hanging them by their spine, with the front magazine cover facing out.

Window Treatments

Window treatments can run rather costly, yet the average household contains a variety of extra fabrics and prints you can reuse instead. Common bed linens come in an array of colors, styles and sizes, are machine washable and require little work in constructing. With the help of a measuring stick or tape, thread, a needle and a pair of scissors, cut out your own patterns for beautiful yet original window treatment designs.

One Yard, No Sew Window Treatment 3 Ways offers a "no sew" option.

Exterior Property Decor

Gardening season has arrived, so instead of purchasing flower boxes, use an old antique bed frame to add a unique and stunning conversation piece to any front yard or flower garden. Simply remove the headboard and foot-board and use as the exterior back and front walls of your garden. Plant rows of your favorite flowers in the ground area located between the head and foot-board. Once the flowers reach maturity, they become the bed spread, creating a literal floral bed.

Any common item can become an eye-catching masterpiece. An old claw-footed bathtub serves as the perfect container garden. Just drill a few holes in the bottom of the bathtub and fill with gardening soil. This design idea works perfectly for areas with minimal gardening space or for growing any type of small herb, vegetable or flower garden.

Visit Crackedpots 18th Annual Art Show to find something unique for your own space. It is August 1 and 2 at McMenamins Edgefield.

Update your space with fresh colors or a new arrangement

Update your space with fresh colors or a new arrangement

By guest blogger Lynn Feinstein, Möbius Home

Change it up

One of the simplest ways to transform a room is to change the color with paint. Color can make a room appear larger or smaller, peaceful or energizing, brighter or softer.

The lighter the color, the larger the room appears. Darker colors make a room feel smaller and more cozy. For a calming effect, try shades of blue, green and cool grey. For the opposite effect, try warmer colors – red, yellow, orange and warm grey.

Every paint manufacturer sells a no VOC (Volatile Organic Compound) selection. I recommend this to all my clients, to protect the air quality in your home. Paints that have VOC’s continue to off-gas for weeks as they cure, even after they have dried. For anyone with allergies or lung conditions, this is especially critical to minimize breathing toxic fumes.

My favorite local brand is Colorhouse paint, founded by two artists who supported themselves by painting interiors. They made the decision to create a brand that would be safe for them to work with since they were getting sick from breathing the fumes of other paint.

Move it around

Another way to make a simple update is to rearrange your space. You can move items from one room to another. Or simply reconfigure what is already in the room. Add fresh elements like different pillows, throws and artwork. Be creative and think beyond what you might consider conventional. Experiment and have fun!

In these before and after photos, the owner of this craftsman home in Southeast Portland contacted us to help create a cohesive and functional expression of herself from the charming eclectic collection of items she owned. This included a pair of chairs she had recently inherited from her father and wanted to integrate into her home.

Some simple adjustments were made and many of her items rearranged. The bookshelves were removed from the dining area and the photos and collectibles reorganized and simplified in the built-in shelving. We made updates with the wall colors to create a more cohesive division of the rooms, as well as to open and lighten the space.

And her father’s chairs – they were reupholstered with Makelike textiles, a local design firm specializing in wallpaper, fabrics and graphics.

The house has beautiful hardwood floors, and to add some depth and warmth we ordered FLOR carpet tiles to create a custom designed area rug for the dining room. FLOR carpet tiles are made with recycled materials; tiles can be cleaned individually, and when damaged beyond repair, can be returned to the manufacturer to be recycled.

Additionally, new drapes for the windows added finishing touches.

It is clear that with a little change in paint and some creative rearrangements, you can create a dramatic change for little to no expense.

Check tips from Lynn about maximizing space for efficiency from a previous blog post.

ReClaim It! offers treasures rescued for creative reuse

ReClaim It! offers treasures rescued for creative reuse

What marries reuse and repair with creativity and a whole bunch of volunteers? ReClaim It! The nonprofit arts and reuse retail store salvages materials from the "dump" for artists, neighbors and Do-It-Yourselfers. 

The goal of ReClaim It! is to reduce the number of items that end their journey at the landfill while raising awareness about creative reuse. They do this in partnership with Recology, a resource recovery company, and the Metro Central Transfer Station, where they gather perfectly good materials like wood, metal and vintage items.

According to Volunteer Coordinator Kelly Caldwell, “ReClaim It! relies on our capable volunteers from the community to prepare found items for reuse, repair and reimagination. We glean roughly 2,000 pounds of materials every week.”

Volunteers are trained to collect items that can be reused in the home and garden or for creative purposes. With a goal of going through one ton of materials every week and the store open five days a week, ReClaim It! has plenty of activities where community support is welcome.

Tasks include:

·         Gleaning items from the waste transfer station

·         Making price tags and in-shop signage

·         Participating in social media outreach

·         Repairing found items

·         Brainstorming project ideas with customers

·         Cashiering in the shop

·         Cleaning newly gleaned items

·         Creating engaging in-shop displays

Many of the items recovered from the transfer station only need a little T.L.C. to reenter the home or garden. Volunteers clean and repair items in the store in an effort to save those pieces for future use.

Their customers are often residents who live in the neighborhood, with many who are DIYers.

ReClaim It! is a project of Crackedpots, a volunteer-driven nonprofit devoted to waste reduction in our community. Volunteers get started with a one-hour orientation and have flexible schedule options in a fun and creative environment. Contact Kelly at 503-432-7712 or volunteer@reclaimitpdx.org to learn more.

Find ReClaim It! under Resale Shop on the Resourceful PDX map. The store is open Wednesday through Sunday from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m.  Or come check it out during one of the monthly Walk Williams events.

Flex your space for maximum efficiency

Flex your space for maximum efficiency

By guest blogger Lynn Feinstein, Möbius Home

When setting up a small space, the best way to make the most of it is to consider all the surfaces for storage and function. Walls for shelving, under furniture for storage, and even the ceiling for hanging dividers.

Finding furniture that transforms from one function to another saves space. A simple example is an ottoman that is hollow, and the cushion flips to become a tray. Murphy beds are popular, as well as couches that convert to a bed. In a kid’s room, you can paint the bottom surface of a murphy bed with chalk board paint so they can use it to get creative when the bed is stored.

Plan ahead and look at the entire picture to help you save time and additional expense. Consider color, not only for mood, but to divide the room into its functions, or make it feel larger than it is. Lighter colors make a space feel larger, darker colors make it feel more cozy. Use materials, patterns and lighting to add variety and visual cues.

Here’s an example from a client who shared a room in a house with other people.

He used his bedroom for an office as well and needed to figure out the best way to divide the space. The solution was to hang dividers from the ceiling so he could block out his work area when resting, and could open them to allow for more light when he was working.

We had him hang shelving for his printers and books, add wall hooks to store his bags and guitar, and use a small space-saving desk that attached to the wall.

Want more inspiration? A favorite resource is apartmenttherapy.com. In the search field type in “small spaces” or “efficient use of space” to get endless ideas for storage solutions.

 

Five ways to create more space in your home

Five ways to create more space in your home

By guest blogger Casey Hazlett, Sustainably Organized, Inc.

Are you looking for more space to provide storage and organization in your home this year?

Look no further than these five places to refresh your space and repurpose what you already have to fit your family.

1.       Guest bedroom

If a guest bedroom has turned into the catch-all space in your home, consider how to flex the space so it works for you when you need it. Maybe turning the space into a playroom or office space that can shift to a guest room when the occasion arises.

Create more room by getting a murphy bed with a quality mattress to free up floor space. If you need art space for the kids, paint the bottom of the murphy bed with chalkboard paint so they can be creative when the bed is not in use.

2.       Attic or basement

Think about what you need to store and avoid piling just anything in these spaces. Store items that you only need a few times a year, like holiday décor or clothes for your kids when they grow into them. Line the perimeter of the room with shelves with storage bins, keeping the middle open for easy access. Only buy new bins – or reuse something you already have – once you know what’s going to go in them and where are they going to be stored. Don’t forget to label at least two sides of each bin so you can know what’s inside even if the bin gets turned sideways.

3.       Doors

Take advantage of the space behind doors for extra storage by using an over-the-door hanging organizer. Is it the door to the bathroom? Use it for overflow or rarely used toiletries and keep only what you use every day in the bathroom cabinets. Is it the door for the coat closet? Use it for mittens, hats and everything you need to keep warm during the winter months and get out the door faster with less stress in the mornings.

4.       Office

Casey organizing boxes and making space for a client.

Casey organizing boxes and making space for a client.

If your New Year’s resolution includes organizing your home office, take the time to set up the desk to be ergonomically comfortable. Now may be the time to try a standing desk. If your monitor or laptop needs to be higher to get it at eye level, repurpose something you already own, like a box or drawer, to set your laptop or monitor on. Use the bin or drawer for additional office supply storage.

5.       Vertical space

Look for unused vertical space in every room. Do you have space to install shelves to create more storage and help you stay organized? Think about space above the toilet or to the sides of the sink in the bathroom. These are great for often used bathroom supplies. Do you have a partial empty wall in the living room? Use it as a place to set up a household command station.

 

Make room at home and enjoy the holidays more

Make room at home and enjoy the holidays more

By guest blogger Casey Hazlett, Sustainably Organized, Inc.

Enjoy the holidays rather than just survive them: Consider these tips to create a plan.

Tip 1: Determine how much time you need to get ready for the holidays

No matter how much time you think you need – double it! This allows time for the unexpected and a little extra relaxation. Did Rudolph lose a leg? Consider how you can fix it before throwing it out. Make sure things (like gift bags) are stored properly so they can be reused each year. If you are planning to wrap gifts, consider creating a supply bin so you can just grab and wrap.

Bonus: Donate, give away or swap unused décor or supplies (like saved ribbon) that you hold on to but don’t ever seem to use or display. Organizations like SCRAP, Swap Positive or possibly family, friends and neighbors might appreciate them and it helps you clear the clutter.

Tip 2: Move furniture to display your holiday décor

Look at each room you’ll use during the holidays and think about it as an opportunity to declutter and reorganize. If you are moving a piece of furniture to fit more holiday décor in the living room, consider if any items can be donated. Check the Resourceful PDX map for options for resale shops and donation centers.

Tip 3: Plan for overnight guests

Use the guest room for guests, not storage! Consider giving yourself some time to make thoughtful decisions about where the best place is for stuff rather than hiding everything in a spare room or closet. If you still need that table or chair (or still love it!), discover a way to incorporate it into your home. 

Tip 4: Make space for new toys, games and stuff that comes home during the holidays

Now is the time to clear space to make room for the new stuff that’s coming in. What toys are no longer popular? Donate, fix what’s broken, or even consider having a party with friends to trade toys so you don’t have to buy new ones for your kiddos. PDX Toy Library is a local option for donation.

Tip 5: Take inventory of what you already have before heading out to shop

Gift wrap, holiday décor, baking supplies and presents that you’ve been saving to re-gift are just a few categories to check before you head out to shop. You’ll save time and money shopping at home first before heading out to the stores.

Bonus: Clean out the Tupperware drawer to reuse what you already own. If you are hosting a holiday meal and plan to send home leftovers with your guests, this is your chance to clear the clutter where you store durable and reusable items. Make sure you have the sizes you use (or can give away) and every bottom and top have a match. Use tins and baskets you’ve collected or buy used at a secondhand store.