Viewing entries in
Buy smart

Reuse pop-up fills zero waste needs

Reuse pop-up fills zero waste needs

The term ‘zero waste’ is being used more and more these days. It could be because of what we see and hear in the news: several environmental crisis on an international scale, such as recycling disruptions and issues with single-use plastics. This has led to new efforts, or a new sense of urgency, to minimize waste, reduce consumption, and promote product reuse and repair.

This zero-waste movement is alive and well in Portland - from community-based efforts to businesses promoting a lifestyle of less.

One of these businesses is Utility.

Utility promotes refill and reuse by selling personal and home care products from bulk and encouraging shoppers to bring their own containers. Each ingredient in every product is researched, so customers can be assured they are using products that are safe for their health and the environment. The store also sells plastic free versions of commonly used items, such as toothbrushes, kitchen sponges, etc. The majority of products are produced locally and made to last.

Rebecca Rottman and Nadine Appenbrink started Utility in April 2019 as a way to help mitigate local plastic pollution and provide Portlanders an opportunity to buy products that are safe for their health and the environment. “We were both tired of having to go to multiple places just to buy shampoo and laundry soap that didn’t have petrochemicals and other harmful ingredients, were safe for the environment and had refill options. Inspired by the many “zero waste” shops popping up in cities around the U.S. and internationally, we decided to start Utility in Portland”.

Although Utility follows some tenets of the zero waste philosophy, Rebecca and Nadine refer to themselves as a “low” waste business rather than “zero”.

Nonetheless, here are some of the ways Utility aligns with zero waste:

●     Sells products from bulk instead of individual plastic bottles.

●     Encourages and promotes the reuse of containers.

●     Carries products that contain only natural ingredients and safe for humans, animals and the earth.

●     Sources from local producers as much as possible.

Utility currently operates as a pop-up shop and online store with local delivery only, no brick and mortar...yet. Pop-ups have been held at retail stores like J. Crew and Nike, bringing these tenets to employees and consumers around Portland.

Bring your own containers

There are pop-up events happening around Portland. Look for upcoming dates online and/or follow them on Instagram

Utility will be partnering with eco-conscious and reuse promoting businesses such as GO Box, Gather Resale and Patagonia this fall.

Read about other zero waste initiatives in Portland and get more tips to reduce waste at Resourceful PDX.

Chinook Book is your key to sustainable living

Chinook Book is your key to sustainable living

It’s the 20th edition of Chinook Book! As always, the annual book includes hundreds of offers that are in line with being a thoughtful consumer in Portland, and why they are a Resourceful PDX partner. 

The Chinook Book highlights local, sustainable businesses that thrive in the community by giving back. There are close to 500 offers in seven categories this year – Dining, Entertainment and Family, Fashion and Gifts, Grocery Retailers, Home and Garden, Travel and Recreation and Wellness.

Some family-friendly favorites listed under Entertainment and Family include:

  • OMSI

  • Oregon Children’s Theatre

  • Saturday Academy

  • Oregon Zoo

  • SCRAP

  • Cloud Cap Games 

The Chinook Book team provides criteria so the businesses that appear in the book have been vetted for sustainability practices. This year, the Bureau of Planning and Sustainability has both a recycling ad and the Resourceful PDX ad, below.

Chinook_Book_ad.PNG

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

 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.

sort it out.PNG


Choose to refuse

Choose to refuse

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

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

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

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

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

A costly habit

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

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

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

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

When is “compostable” not compostable?

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

Do not put them in your recycling or compost bins.

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

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

 

When used clothing surpasses fast fashion

When used clothing surpasses fast fashion

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

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

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

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

Repair, Repurpose, Reinvent

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

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

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

A collective path to sustainability

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

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

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

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

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

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




Shwop is your local membership swap shop

Shwop is your local membership swap shop

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

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

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

The website includes a menu of accepted items, including:

  • Clothes – pants, shirts, sweaters

  • Shoes

  • Jewelry

  • Coats, jackets, fleece

  • Exercise attire

  • Belt, scarves, hats

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

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

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

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

Here are several ways to Shwop!

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

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

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

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

Buy to Last with BuyMeOnce

Buy to Last with BuyMeOnce

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

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

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

Categories online include:

·         Kitchenware

·         Living

·         Electricals (i.e. appliances and gadgets)

·         Leisure

·         Beauty

·         Kids, women’s and men’s items

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

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

Reclaim the holidays

Reclaim the holidays

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

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

DSC_6514-49_2.jpg

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.”

DSC_6383-10.jpg

Kyle

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

DSC_6539-56.jpg

Ann Marie

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

DSC_6490-44.jpg

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.”

DSC_6793-149_2.jpg

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.”

DSC_6456-31.jpg

Lloyd

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

Find (more) holiday inspiration and creative gift ideas

Find (more) holiday inspiration and creative gift ideas

Simplify-the-Holidays-Booklet-cover.png

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. 

MetroVancouver_holidays.png

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.