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Aging parents and the stuff their kids don’t want

Aging parents and the stuff their kids don’t want

A recent article in the New York Times about aging parents with an abundance of stuff resonated because Resourceful PDX has thoughtful consumption at its core. It offers tools and ideas for reducing waste, and specifically, how to act and where to find resources. 

The article explains that the volume of unwanted keepsakes and family heirlooms is poised to grow — along with the number of conversations about what to do with them – because of our aging population.

Resourceful PDX is about making simple changes to help you save money, support your community, conserve natural resources and enjoy more time with friends and family.

There are many online groups and local organizations that offer Portland-area residents simple ways to move useful materials through the community and into the hands of others who need them. Here are just a few:

·         Buy Nothing Project

·         Freecycle

·         Nextdoor

·         Paying it Forward Store

·         PDX Free Store

·         Rooster

Check out the Curbsider Blog for more options for sharing your unwanted or unneeded household goods.

Also, Metro has compiled a helpful list of charitable organizations to contact for pick up or drop off of your usable items. These range from local organization like Free Geek and The ARC of Multnomah County to national organizations like Goodwill and Salvation Army.

Read a previous Resourceful PDX post about Community Warehouse, your local furniture bank. Items that are needed the most include linens, kitchen and household goods and furniture. The Estate Store at Community Warehouse offers collectibles and antiques for purchase to help further furnish homes for local families and will gladly accept your donations.

Unusable bulky items
After sorting out all of your reusable items and finding them new homes, your garbage and recycling company can remove large, unusable items for an extra charge. Call your company a week in advance and they will give you a cost estimate. For a reasonable charge, they will pick up appliances, furniture and other big items. For curbside pickup, set bulky items at your curb on the day your garbage and recycling company has agreed to pick them up. 

Large items abandoned in your neighborhood? Contact the Metro Regional Illegal Dumping (RID) Patrol or call 503-234-3000.


Spring into action with the 15-minute “clearing clutter” workout

Spring into action with the 15-minute “clearing clutter” workout

By guest blogger Kathy Peterman, Simple Up

With the help of popular books, like Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, people are ready to tackle clutter. However, we know a book won’t necessarily help you get started.

Here are my top tips for getting started with decluttering your space. You can do this as part of spring cleaning or anytime of the year, with the 15-minute "clearing clutter" workout.

1.       Start small. Begin by clearing two small surfaces within your home. That might be your bathroom counter, your nightstand, the top of a bookshelf or your kitchen table. It can be any surface.

Take everything off that surface, wipe it down, then go through the items to determine if you have any of the following:

·         duplicates (if so, pick your favorite)

·         items that belong elsewhere and could be put away

·         items you are not using

·         recycling or garbage

Do what you can to reduce the items you put back on the surface. Three is the ideal number, but less is good, no matter what the number is. You can box up items to try it with less if you’re not ready to let go of these things…yet!

2.       Get support. Many people need some support to get going. That can vary from having a friend or family member whom you can share your goals with, to an online group or hiring a professional organizer. Even just speaking or writing down your goals is one way to get more clear and committed. When we share this with someone else, it helps make it more real. It’s ideal if that person is willing to declutter too and you can report back to each other.

3.       Figure out your why. Why do you want to declutter your space? It is to help you find things? To reduce the amount of time it takes to clean? To clear space in preparation for downsizing? To feel more calm and less chaos?

It’s helpful to actually write out your why and post it somewhere you can see it as a reminder, especially when you need a boost. Be sure to share the why with your support person too.

4.       Put it on your calendar. Decluttering is that thing we think of doing, but rarely schedule. By putting it on your calendar and telling your support person when you’ll be doing it, you have a clear plan to follow. Set a timer for 15 minutes and commit to decluttering until it pings. Even if you declutter for just 15 minutes, you’ll be surprised how much of a difference it can make.

Once you’ve gotten started, you may be ready to move onto other categories like Marie Kondo describes in her book – clothes, books, papers and more. Don’t be afraid to break these into smaller sub-categories that you work through on separate days for 15-30 minutes, such as jackets, shirts and shoes.

Set that timer and start decluttering!

Community Warehouse shares your used goods with neighbors in need

Community Warehouse shares your used goods with neighbors in need

Here’s a typical morning routine: You wake up to an alarm clock, in a bed made with sheets and pillows; take a shower and dry off with a towel; make coffee with a machine and toast bread in a toaster. Perhaps the items themselves – alarm clock, bed, towel, coffee maker, toaster – are taken for granted because they are at our fingertips and in our everyday lives.

According to Rena Satre Meloy, Communications Director for Community Warehouse, the silent role our stuff plays is what makes her organization such a deeply important resource for our neighbors in need.

Community Warehouse, your local nonprofit furniture bank, serves clients from all walks of life. They work with 200 partner agencies that help others find secure housing – veterans, people coming out of homelessness, public school families and those in crisis situations.

They make the most of items you no longer need or want and keep resources circulating in the community. They see themselves as a conduit between neighbors - to help each other and to provide a smarter way to redistribute existing goods directly to others locally.

Resourceful PDX sees reuse at the core of what they do. A system that is closed loop because goods go to someone else who needs them and provides a meaningful interaction for those involved, while also keeping material on a local scale to lessen transportation and disposal costs.

Community Warehouse has two locations: Northeast Portland and Tualatin. Items that are needed the most include linens, kitchen and household goods and furniture, especially stuff like pots and pans, toasters, dressers and twin beds. Gently used mattresses without big stains or tears are also welcome.

What about those treasures you no longer treasure? The ones you may have inherited or no longer serve the purpose they once did? Estate Store at Community Warehouse offers collectibles and antiques for purchase to help further furnish homes for local families and will gladly accept your donations.

We had been struggling for a while to convince our mother to let go of her long-accumulated furniture and belongings. The idea of giving mom’s furniture to Community Warehouse, where it could do such good for local families, was really helpful for her in the letting go process.
— Anonymous Furniture Donor

Watch this 30-second time lapse video to see the volume of goods going in and out of Community Warehouse.

Find Community Warehouse under Resale Shop on the Resourceful PDX map.

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.

St Johns Food Share offers more options for residents

St Johns Food Share offers more options for residents

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

Founded in 1988, St Johns Food Share is a member-owned, volunteer-powered food sharing community. Formerly known as Golden Harvesters, St Johns Food Share has a mission to empower Portland residents by providing food options, preserving dignity and promoting self-sufficiency. Each year, the food share distributes over 300,000 pounds of food to local families.

New name draws new members

When Golden Harvesters became St Johns Food Share, the name change and rebranding prompted a big increase in members – they more than doubled membership just through word of mouth!

Members are volunteers

Food Share membership is open to all residents. In exchange for a minimum of eight donated volunteer hours and $30 monthly dues per household, you can shop twice a week in the store at no additional charge. The monthly fee helps pay for the store space, electricity and utilities.

Volunteers are crucial to the operation of the Food Share. It was a volunteer who brought the organization into the 21st century too – with software and computerization that hadn’t existed before. Paying membership fees are coming online soon too.

Lynda, a St Johns Food Share member and volunteer, shows off available options at the store. 

One new member, Lynda, drives from St Helens to visit the store and volunteer on Fridays as a store lead. This volunteer position includes making displays look organized, greeting and assisting first-time shoppers with using the computer and weighing items for check-out.

“Having this option really makes a difference,” said Lynda. She explained that the Food Share “offers a way to stretch my monthly money because social security only goes so far.” She can keep her kitchen stocked with a variety of items – fresh produce, dairy products, protein and staples – while keeping good food out of the waste stream.

Food is donated

You’ll find a well-stocked store offering a variety of foods donated from partner agencies. These include Pacific Coast Fruit, St Johns Community Garden, Fred Meyer, New Seasons, Grocery Outlet and more. St Johns Food Share also works with social service agencies to pass along viable food through their food banks. Some of these programs include Grace Christian Fellowship, Hereford House and Linnton Community Center in North and Northwest Portland.

One Food Share volunteer, Judie, said the organization also works with various farmers who take back the food that isn’t viable for human consumption and use the food scraps to make compost or as pig feed.

Learn more

Curious about Food Share? If you aren’t sure you want to be a member, you can shop free the first time. Or you can sign up as member right away.

St Johns Food Share is open Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 9 a.m. until 12:30 p.m.

Find St Johns Food Share under Donation Center on the Resourceful PDX map.

Resourceful PDX discovered this “new” community resource when a resident used the Add to the Map button on the Resourceful PDX map. Let us know if you have a resource to add!

Swap and share your way to savings for the school year ahead

Swap and share your way to savings for the school year ahead

School days are coming! Channel your creativity and resourcefulness to get kids off to a great start. Swap and share items you already have, but no longer need, to keep kids outfitted for activities inside and outside the classroom.

Host a clothing swap

Hosting a clothing swap with friends and neighbors is a fun and easy way to share kids’ clothes, toys, books and sports equipment, and donate anything that’s left. 

A clothing swap involves getting a bunch of people together to exchange clothes and other items you no longer wear, and offering them free of charge to others by swapping them instead. Swap events are a great excuse to get together with friends or meet new people, all while giving your stuff another life and helping everyone save money and avoid buying new.

Swap Positive is a local resource that provides all you need to know about attending, hosting and getting involved with swaps in Portland. There are options for family swaps and those specific to household stuff or clothes of every size.

Center for a New American Dream put together this video about hosting or participating in a clothing swap that can help you plan your own swap!

Find used sports equipment

Don’t forget about sports gear and equipment – items for school and recreation leagues can add to your budget. From cleats to uniforms, there are ways to find used items through swapping, borrowing and purchasing gently used goods through your friends, neighbors or Craigslist.

Join a swap and play space

Join one of the swap and play spaces around Portland to connect with other families with children. Swap and plays offer an opportunity to swap outgrown clothing, toys and gear, share community play space and also connect with other parents and kids in your neighborhood.

Portland swap and play spaces are membership organizations and vary in hours, activities, events and ways to get involved. They are Southside Swap & PlaySt Johns Swapnplay and Woodlawn Swap n Play

Check out other back to school resources in our previous kids in school posts.

Get extra credit with your school supplies

Get extra credit with your school supplies

Compiled by Eco-School Network Leaders at the Center for Earth Leadership

The time of year between July 4 and September 15 represents a season (other than summer!): Back-to-School. When retailers are emphasizing a shopping season, resourceful people take notice and consider their actions to avoid impulse purchases. 

On average, a family with school-aged kids will spend $673.57 for clothes, accessories, electronics, shoes and school supplies. The National Retail Federation surveyed more than 6,800 consumers about their annual back-to-school plans, finding that families with children in grades K-12 are expected to spend 9.6 percent more this year than last year. (Source: Time)

The average spending per family in each category breaks down as follows:

  • Clothing: $235.39
  • Electronics: $204.06
  • Shoes: $126.35
  • School Supplies: $107.76

Here are some strategies to help you save money, buy less stuff and get the most from this back-to-school season.

Avoid using shopping lists unless supplied directly by the school

Online and store-supplied shopping lists are often written by the companies who manufacture school supplies. Obtain the school’s supply list to ensure you get what the teacher needs.

Set your school up with Schoolhouse Supplies

Schoolhouse Supplies is a local organization that collects corporate donated supplies, buys supplies in bulk and delivers the school supplies directly to the school. These supplies are less expensive because they are purchased or donated in large quantities. They save parents the hassle of running all over town in the family car to purchase supplies and ensure that the right supplies are bought for the class. Schoolhouse Supplies offers teachers low- or no-cost classroom supplies. Learn more at the how to donate page online.

Buy supplies after winter break

Instead of purchasing supplies at the beginning of the calendar year, work with your teacher and volunteer to purchase supplies after winter break. At some schools, the supplies often run out at mid-year. By replenishing just the most-used supplies, you’ll help ensure that those supplies that have run out will be replaced and the classroom won’t have excess supplies they don’t need.

Volunteer to conduct a supply audit for your students’ classroom

Auditing how many supplies are used versus what supplies are purchased is a valuable activity for teachers. Often, supply lists are generated at the beginning of a teacher’s career and as technology and teaching needs change, the supply doesn’t receive the fine tuning necessary to keep it relevant.

Create a Party Pack for your teacher

Most classrooms have several parties or celebrations annually, in addition to student birthday treats. Creating a Party Pack that contains durable items can significantly reduce the amount of garbage produced by classroom parties. While parties differ, the average event produces 30 gallons of garbage (per Portland Eco-School Network research). That fills approximately one large black garbage bag. 

Contact the Center for Earth Leadership for more information about the Eco-School Network. 

Digging into summer projects with borrowed tools

Digging into summer projects with borrowed tools

When Robert Bowles learned that two friends were opening a tool-lending library in Northeast Portland, he liked the idea so much he became a volunteer on the spot.

“The Northeast Portland Tool Library is a great community resource,” said Robert. “It empowers people to complete dream projects and save money by not having to buy tools for one-time use, like a table saw. Thanks to the tool library, people improve their surroundings while reducing the resources necessary to do it.”

Robert is passionate about fixing broken things. He enjoys helping people find the right tools for a job and hearing stories about projects the tool library helped make possible. “My favorite stories are from people who really stretched themselves and took on something they didn’t think they could do.”

He is also a Master Recycler volunteer who has since joined the board of the Northeast Portland Tool Library and continues to give back to the community. “Doing small things to make our neighborhood a better place makes it better for all of us.”

Aushti and Parfait Bassale

Aushti and Parfait Bassale

Concordia resident and local musician Parfait Bassale is a Northeast Portland Tool Library member who has completed some home and yard projects with tools he borrowed. He’s completed many yard improvements, like building planters, and finished a painting project.

Parfait, and his son Aushti, typically stop by the tool library on Saturdays. He’s been a member for three years and has gotten to know other Northeast residents and neighbors through the tool library. “It is wonderful to see familiar faces one week after the next and hear about the progress they are making on their projects.”

One dream project on Parfait’s list is a building an outdoor veranda in his backyard. “It would be a fun project and one that I’ll be tapping the tool library volunteer staff to help me with. Is Robert available?”

Do you have home projects to complete? Need some inspiration? Tool libraries are available to residents of East PortlandNorth PortlandNortheast Portland, and Southeast Portland. Become a member of one near you!

Find more stories about borrowing in Portland. #sharingcommunity

Read past articles about Portland’s tool libraries. #tool library

Building community with a love of food

Building community with a love of food

What do Kitchen Share Northeast and the Northeast Portland Tool Library have in common? They are both partners in the new Leaven Community center, merging sustainability, livability and a whole lot more.

Kitchen Share is a network of kitchen tool libraries that offers equipment, skills, traditions and food to borrow and share with their members. They offer dehydrators, canning equipment, ice cream makers, juicers, mixers, bread makers, durable dishes and more.

Kitchen Share builds community through the sharing of skills and food. One Portland resident and community volunteer, Gabbi Haber, got involved with Kitchen Share Northeast because of her love of food and cooking.

“Food is such a powerful way to connect with people, and when we cook and eat together, we not only form social connections, but also learn from each other's techniques, histories and life stories. I first started volunteering with Kitchen Commons, a nonprofit founded by my friend and Kitchen Share Northeast co-founder Jocelyn. I helped organize a community tamale sale and a community tomato canning day which was fun, but I wanted to go beyond community events and address some of the infrastructure obstacles to preserving, cooking for large groups, or just being adventurous in the kitchen.”

According to Gabbi, Kitchen Share Northeast:

  • Saves money, by offering tools so you don't need to buy them yourself, and by providing preserving equipment so members can take advantage of seasonal bounty.
  • Connects people with new ways of cooking, whether it's exploring how to use a new tool or making something from scratch you've never made before (like pasta or yogurt!).
  • Encourages people to cook at home by making new resources available.
  • Helps people gather their communities around them, by providing free dishware and cooking and serving tools for big events (like weddings, fundraisers and birthday parties).
  • Gives items a second chance and reduces waste since members can donate unwanted or unneeded tools and equipment instead of throwing away.

Gabbi’s involvement with Kitchen Share Northeast includes teaching workshops and building connections with other community groups.

“It's so much fun to be surrounded by people who are excited about making food, and ready to learn new ways to enjoy food. We are all constantly learning and have something to teach each other. A pretty great Saturday morning is when everyone is standing around with flour on their hands and tomato sauce on their noses, chatting away with people they just met an hour ago.”

Aside from teaching workshops, she enjoys collaborating with the Neighborhood Gleaners. They're an all-volunteer organization that collects leftover food from the Hollywood Farmers Market and distributes it to low-income seniors at the Hollywood Senior Center. Every year they host a Thanksgiving dinner for seniors and anyone else who wants to come, and borrow dishes and tools from Kitchen Share Northeast in order to do it.

“It makes me happy to know that this thing I helped create is making it easier for other volunteer organizations to build community and make people's lives better. It's very satisfying to give back to the community, and it's a great way to make new friends. At the end of the day you know that you've done your part to make your little patch of the world a little better for you and your neighbors."

Are you interested in sharing your kitchen knowledge? Or ready to take a food workshop? Join Kitchen Share Northeast or Southeast!

Find more stories about borrowing in Portland. #sharingcommunity

Swapping is more than give and take

Swapping is more than give and take

“I think swapping is invaluable to communities,” said Shay Mullins at the Spring Stuff Swap. “You are able to receive things you need and get rid of things that might otherwise be tossed out.”

Swap Positive has been hosting community swaps for 11 years in Portland. Swaps bring together volunteer coordinators, donated venues and swappers who bring clean items in good condition to share, at no cost. Items remaining at the end of a swap are donated.

Shay has lived in Portland for nearly 6 years. She grew up in Southwest Florida going to garage sales and “would dumpster dive after the Ringling School of Art and Design let out, and collect copious amounts of art supplies and other non-garbage items that were thrown away,” she said. “I used to use Freecycle, but here in Portland, the giving atmosphere is different and swaps abound, so I ended up moving into those circles rather than staying with what worked elsewhere.”

Shay has participated in and volunteered for dozens of clothing and ‘stuff’ swaps. She loves the culture of giving at community swaps.

“I participate in clothing swaps a couple times a year and have been coming to each biannual stuff swap for four years now.”

One of her favorite parts about participating at a swap is the possibilities. “I love finding things that I need or that someone I know needs. I actually ask my friends for things that they may need so I can keep an eye out for them at the swap.”

“I also like witnessing someone receive an item that they've been wanting for a long time, or needed but couldn't justify purchasing for whatever reason – that ‘paired up’ moment when someone finds something that they need, want, or love. It's elating!”

Another worthwhile element for her is knowing the items she brings that aren’t taken won’t be sold. The remaining items go to organizations and individuals who give them away, in the spirit of sharing. No money ever changes hands. Everyone involved gets to be with other kind, generous, thrifty, sustainability-minded people. That is the mission of Swap Positive Free Swaps.

Are you ready to swap? View our event calendar for upcoming events. Or visit Swap Positive's About Swaps page to learn more and get your questions answered on the FAQ page.

Find more stories about swapping in Portland. #sharingcommunity