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reduce

It’s almost back to school! Tips for a no-waste lunch

It’s almost back to school! Tips for a no-waste lunch

School days are right around the corner! One area that parents have some control over for back-to-school savings is lunch related. Packing a lunch for students saves money, resources and helps prevent waste.

No-waste lunch tips

Pack your lunch in a reusable bag or a lunch box

Wash and reuse

• plastic containers for sandwiches, soup and snacks

• plastic water or juice bottles

• locking plastic bags for crackers, carrots, cookies

Bring your own

• reusable forks and spoons

• cloth napkins

Save packaging – buy large, pack small

• Choose large bags of snacks like pretzels, chips and raisins over individually packaged ones

• Pack single servings in reusable containers to save resources

By planning and creating weekly meal plans, you can reduce waste while shopping, too. Stock the fridge in one trip, and you’ll save time and resources too.

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

 

 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!

 

Reuse, recycle and dispose of unwanted bulky materials at Portland events

Reuse, recycle and dispose of unwanted bulky materials at Portland events

Clean up for spring at Portland Community Collection Events

Portlanders can clean up their garages, basements or other clutter-filled areas and head to one of over 35 Community Collection Events scheduled this spring. Materials accepted at collection events vary, but the sponsoring neighborhood association or community group may offer a combination of bulky waste collection, an onsite reuse section and a litter pickup activity.

A variety of community groups are providing this convenient service for a reasonable donation or fee. Besides bulky items like furniture, mattresses and appliances locations may accept items for recycling and reuse, like scrap metal and household goods.

The City of Portland’s Community Collection Events, also known as Neighborhood Cleanups, offer neighborhood, community and nonprofit organizations funds for proper disposal of bulky household waste that may otherwise be disposed of inappropriately. The events prioritize recycling and reuse over disposal.

These events do not accept the following items: Hazardous waste materials; all construction, remodeling or demolition materials; all kitchen garbage; residential yard debris and trimmings; commercial landscaping; roofing; waste and recyclables collected curbside; and waste not allowed at a regional transfer station. Learn more about asbestos containing materials at the Metro transfer stations.

Your support in protecting community volunteers and transfer station staff from exposure to asbestos and keeping our neighborhoods clean and safe is appreciated.

Interested in reusing and sharing? Many groups and organizations are free and offer Portland-area residents’ simple ways to move useful materials through the community and into the hands of others who need them.

Have bulky items at other times of the year? Your garbage and recycling company can remove large items that are not reusable or recyclable for an extra charge anytime of the year.

Need a list of this year’s events? Contact the Curbside Hotline at 503-823-7202 to find a Community Collection Event near you.

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!

Think repair for the holidays with over 200 local shops

Think repair for the holidays with over 200 local shops

Did you know you can find repair shops all over the Portland region through an online database?

Portland Repair Finder is dedicated to helping more people fix more things. The organization makes tools, knowledge and resources easier to find, and helps tell the stories behind repair work. They believe that repairing things is good for the local economy, community and environment, and it is empowering and fun.

The creator of this online tool is Joel Newman. He started the website in 2017 to become a comprehensive access point for repair of all kinds around Portland. His background is in art and design - and bicycle repair.

Joel (right) fixing a bike at a Repair Cafe.

Joel (right) fixing a bike at a Repair Cafe.

He said over the next year they will be revising the search and filtering features, as well as growing the database of repair shops and resources. The ability to search the site by item as well as by mode of repair– whether that's a needed tool for a DIY fix, expert advice or professional repair– is key to showing people the range of options available, and getting more people involved.

One of the cool things about repair work is its ability to add life to a favorite item or keepsake. If you get a favorite pair of jeans or shoes mended or restore a piece of furniture or jewelry that has been in your family for generations, it’s much more unique and memorable than buying something new.

Give the gift of repair

With the holidays upon us, now’s a good time to find alternative gift ideas. Look at who you plan to buy for this year. Would they benefit from a gift certificate from a jeweler, cobbler or for a gadget? Could a family heirloom be repaired, old photos be restored or a favorite outfit brought back to life through alteration? There are 200 businesses included on the Repair Finder.

And don’t forget about free repair events in the region. Both Repair Cafés and Repair Fairs take place around the Portland region throughout the year. Think of these events as an ongoing way to get small repairs made to keep your possessions in circulation and in use. The Resourceful PDX event calendar lists all the repair events taking place, along with other community events.

 



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.

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.