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thrift stores

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!

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. 



“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.”



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


Ann Marie

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



“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.”



“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.”



“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.

Show your creative spirit this Halloween

Show your creative spirit this Halloween

Clever costumes and Portland seem to go hand-in-hand this time of year. One idea shared with Resourceful PDX was from a mom who created Halloween witch costumes for her two young daughters – out of a 80’s style, black lacy prom dress!

Start planning now for your own Halloween costume, and take advantage of all the great resources Portland offers for making, swapping or renting a costume.

Make a costume

Used clothing and reused craft supply stores allow you to create a unique and inexpensive costume of your own making.

  • Find cool homemade costume ideas online. Pinterest offers a wealth of ideas to inspire you! Explore ways to get crafty, adorn a costume, and make hair wreaths or masks.
  • Find all kinds of fabric and supplies at SCRAP for super low prices and costume ideas on their website.

Reuse a costume

There are great finds lurking throughout the city. Consignment, second hand and thrift stores are great resources for costumes, or clothes to make costumes. They also often have used costumes for sale leading up to Halloween.

  • Vintage clothing shops abound in Portland, with clothing options for all decades.
  • Many children’s resale shops have kids’ costumes as well.
  • Bonus! Chinook Book offers coupons for many Portland area resale shops and the Resourceful PDX map shows Resale Shops too!
  • Or attend or plan a costume swap – your friend’s costume from last year may be perfect for you this year.

Rent a costume

Short on time or crafty abilities to make your own? Renting gives you options for a stand-out costume.


Oregon takes steps toward more reuse

Cindy Correll, Reuse Alliance Oregon chair and Resourceful PDX partner, shares an update on reuse and repair in Oregon.

Reuse Alliance has a vision of making reuse a mainstream part of people’s lives and as common as recycling currently is in our culture.

The Oregon Legislature recently passed two new laws that involve reuse and repair. Senate Bill 245 and Senate Bill 263 set goals and make funding available to develop programs to increase the practice of reuse and repair.

This creates exciting opportunities to increase the public’s awareness of and participation in the practice of reuse and repair.

The new laws support implementation of Materials Management in Oregon: 2050 Vision and Framework for Action. While earlier versions of this plan focused mostly on recycling efforts and managing waste, the 2050 plan addresses the full life cycle of materials (from raw materials, to manufacturing, purchasing and use, to disposal). It establishes a foundation for our state to use fewer raw materials and to get the most out of the resources we do consume. Reuse and repair play a big role in maximizing the useful life of the manufactured goods that are part of our daily lives.

Highlights from SB 263 addressing reuse and repair include:

  • Waste prevention and reuse education programs in elementary and secondary schools.
  • Funding or infrastructure support to promote and sustain reuse, repair, leasing or sharing efforts.
  • Technical assistance to promote and sustain reuse, repair or leasing of materials or other sharing efforts to reduce waste.

SB 245 will make grants available to government agencies, nonprofits and businesses that want to implement programs in support of the reuse and repair goals outlined in Oregon’s 2050 plan.

With grant funds becoming available early next year, it will take some time before we begin to see results from this important new legislation. Over the next few years, expect to see new, innovative programs that give you more options for reusing and repairing your belongings.

Resourceful PDX gives Portland residents tools and ideas for reducing waste

Get involved with reuse and repair now by tapping into what exists in the community already. Explore Portland’s many second-hand stores to find new-to-you clothing, furniture, electronics, household or craft items and salvage building materials.

If you’re a do-it-yourselfer, how-to classes and online tutorials can help you improve your sewing, bike or home repair skills quickly. There are also community resources, such as Repair PDX and local repair shops, that can fix anything from clothing and shoes, to furniture, tools, electronics, appliances and more.

As you’re repairing, reusing, borrowing and sharing, remember that you’re blazing the trail for others to follow. Keep up the good work!

Chinook Book offers more than coupons in the new edition

Chinook Book offers more than coupons in the new edition

Carrie Treadwell, from Resourceful PDX partner Chinook Book, shares highlights from the latest edition of the local coupon resource.

Chinook Book highlights local, sustainable businesses with a belief that businesses that give back also thrive in the community. 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 16th annual edition has updates and improvements of both the print and mobile editions. The print edition includes information and resources on how to connect with local food and Portland’s many farmers markets, as well as the plethora of local businesses that are in line with resourceful living. The new app launched in July and offers even more personalized navigation and provides savings at your fingertips.  

Resourceful PDX shares community resources with the newly updated map (page 403 in the print edition). Some resources are in the Chinook Book for the first time in the Home and Garden category, like Salvage Works, ReClaim It! and St Johns Living Well.

As always, 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 even car sharing opportunities.

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

Find back-to-school savings with Chinook Book

Find back-to-school savings with Chinook Book

Carrie Treadwell, from Resourceful PDX partner Chinook Book, offers her insights on last minute uses for the local coupon resource.

As any parent of school-age kids knows, getting ready for back-to-school includes lots of lists of what kids need for the classroom, for the lunchroom, or out on the field.

Carrie wants you to put your Chinook Book coupons to work for you and your family. The mobile coupons expire on August 31, 2015, while the print ones expire on October 31, 2015. Before the new edition arrives in September, utilize what you already have and save money!

With kids in school, the Chinook Book offers coupons in many categories, including Fashion and Gifts, Grocery Products and Local Grocery. It has you covered for back-to-school and last minute needs, from clothes and supplies to food and fashion. Savings abound with local, sustainable businesses in Portland.

Are you after new or used clothes?

Under Fashion and Gifts there are a number of places to purchase kids’ clothes, coats, shoes and more. A few clothing options include Grasshopper, Bella Stella and two locations of Piccolina.

There are adult resale options too! Sequel Apparel, Silver Lining, Button and Here We Go Again.

Trying for waste-free lunches or healthier lunch and snack options? Need a new backpack or a way to make an old one new again?

Stock up with grocery products at local stores to create weekly meal plans and to reduce waste while shopping. A few grocery options include New Seasons, Food Front Coop and Grocery Outlet.

Most local grocers carry backpacks, lunch bags and water bottles for supplies and waste-free lunches. Shops that carry kid friendly items also carry these. Many of the coupons take a percentage off or $5-$10 off a purchase based on how much you spend.

SCRAP offers inexpensive school supplies and art supplies to add something special to favorite or worn-in items. The coupon offers an additional $3 off of a $10 purchase.

Get more tips about waste-free lunches at a previous Resourceful PDX post under kids in school.

Plan ahead and make your lists based on Chinook Book savings!

For family and friends who have it all, share the bounty of the Northwest

For family and friends who have it all, share the bounty of the Northwest

Yvonne and Josh are a creative duo who love to make things inspired by the Northwest seasonal harvests. Instead of purchasing items for friends and family, many who live outside of Oregon, they give batches of homemade goodies that show off the bounty of the seasons – and find a place in their hearts and stomachs! 

Josh and Yvonne treat family and friends with their holiday creations.

Josh and Yvonne treat family and friends with their holiday creations.

Shop local for food and supplies

For their marionberry jam, they plan ahead in the summer when the berry bounty is plentiful and either buy berries at their neighborhood Montavilla Farmers Market, or they pick berries at Sauvie Island Farms. (Both the market and farm offer winter hours too.) 

Josh brews beer and roasts his own coffee. He uses old air pop popcorn makers from thrift stores for roasting coffee and buys other coffee supplies from local store Mr. Green Beans.

Yvonne bakes cookies and candies, like hazelnut toffee, that she gifts in holiday tins. She purchases tins for toffee and canning jars for jam from local thrift stores and takes them back from friends when they are empty to reuse them year after year. They also purchase food preservation equipment for the jam from small businesses like Mirador Community Store.

While their loved ones get bountiful, consumable gifts, Yvonne and Josh get the satisfaction of working together to make delicious, low-waste creations.

If you don’t have the time or inclination to DIY, you can still get the most of Portland offerings by shopping local at one of the many artisan events. The Resourceful PDX event calendar lists holiday happenings.

Find gift ideas for other hard-to-buy-for people in your life in our resourceful holiday series. #holiday

Sustainable resources abound in Chinook Book's 15th Anniversary edition

Sustainable resources abound in Chinook Book's 15th Anniversary edition

Carrie Treadwell, from Be Resourceful partner Chinook Book, shares highlights from the latest edition of the local coupon resource.

Chinook Book highlights local, sustainable businesses with a belief that businesses that give back also thrive in the community. The Chinook Book team spends time thinking about businesses and their industries and the approach and criteria with which they appear in the book.

Significant updates and improvements are part of our annual print and mobile editions to help celebrate our proud 15-year history in Portland. You'll find more coupons than ever before, exciting new merchants and enhanced app navigation.

The newly updated map (page 390 in the print edition) highlights resources that are part of the Be Resourceful program:

  • Places to borrow, share and swap like the tool libraries and kitchen shares and the swap and play spaces.
  • Places to go for used art supplies, building materials and clothing.
  • And much more!

You’ll also find a plethora of information and resources for local food, including Portland’s farmers markets, as well as many local businesses that are in line with resourceful living. Look for coupons and tips for bike shops, consignment and thrift stores, hardware stores, and even car sharing opportunities.”

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