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There’s a healthier way to clean this spring

There’s a healthier way to clean this spring

With spring in the air it can only mean one thing – time to clean!

According to Metro, the average person in the U.S. uses 40.6 pounds of household cleaners each year.

Many of these products include ingredients that can be harmful to those we love and the environment around us. Choosing products that are less harmful are better for you and your family (and saves you money!).

Recipes for a greener clean

Metro has a wealth of information about reducing toxics, including simple cleaning tips and recipes for a safer home. There are many recipes available – and you may already have all of the ingredients you need at home – from window and wood cleaners to drain and oven cleaners.

Combinations of three key ingredients – baking soda, white vinegar and liquid soap – are the staples of natural, green cleaners. Reuse an existing container or spray bottle and label it so you know what type of homemade cleaner it contains.

Part of the cleaning ritual may be the smell of ‘clean’. Perhaps it reminds you of your family home or your grandma’s place. The smell is often the result of synthetic fragrances which can trigger asthma and may contain hormone-disrupting chemicals. By making your own cleaners, you can choose to add an essential oil to your mix for a customized and chemical-free clean smell. Metro’s recipes offer guidance for which oils and how much to use.

Take a look at the Washington Toxics Coalition Top 10 Tips for Safer Cleaning for more inspiration and tips. Get your house clean safely this spring by following these tips to make sure you use the best cleaning products for both you and the environment.

You can hire a green housekeeper, too

If you prefer someone else do the cleaning, check to see if these companies use safer, less toxic cleaners too. Resourceful PDX partner, Chinook Book, has many service-oriented businesses under Home and Garden. Coupons on your phone or in the book include offers for house cleaning services.

You can (still) be more organized this year

You can (still) be more organized this year

We are more than a month into the New Year! How are you doing on your resolutions? Did you make any commitments to organize, de-clutter or simplify? It’s never too late to rethink how to manage your stuff.

Live more simply this year

Resourceful PDX is about making small changes in your everyday choices to live more sustainably. Our stuff makes up a big part of this – how and where we buy stuff, how much of it we have in our homes, and even how we keep it all organized.

Have less stuff

One of the most sensible ways to achieve that elusive organization is simply to have less stuff.

Check out the stuff that you have around your home. Is it meaningful and durable? Does it add enhancement to your life? Are there things around you that just add clutter or distract from quality time with family and friends?

Get rid of a lot – a little at a time

Another favorite tip: whenever you’re cleaning a room, get rid of at least five items, whether it’s a piece of trash, an old magazine, or just something you haven’t used in ages.

Could it be that easy? Perhaps. Especially if we take some small steps to help us manage our stuff and include proper disposal of unwanted or unneeded items.

If you have the time and energy to do a bigger room or whole-home clean-out, planning ahead is the most resourceful option. Sorting and organizing your items before passing them along allows others to get the most benefit from your stuff.

5 steps to declutter

  1. Schedule a block of time. Whether you have 10 minutes or more than an hour, knowing your time limit can help you to stay focused.
  2. Choose a room and stick with it. Pace yourself but set goals for when you want to have each room finished.
  3. Have the materials and resources you need on hand, like containers, boxes, sticky notes, scissors and tape.
  4. Divide your excess possessions into: things to sell, things to donate (for reuse or future swap) and things to store and bring out later.
  5. For some people, having a partner can help too. Choose someone who will help you stay focused and hopefully have buy-in for decision making.

Make Resourceful PDX a part of your year to get tips and resources for places and events that can help you live more resourcefully in Portland. Do you have resourceful ideas or resources to share for the New Year? Drop us a line.

ReClaim It! Make art, not waste at this new retail space offering reused materials saved from the landfill

ReClaim It! Make art, not waste at this new retail space offering reused materials saved from the landfill

Cindy Correll, Reuse Alliance Oregon Chapter chair and Be Resourceful partner, weighs in on a collaboration that is advancing the reuse conversation in Portland. 

“I remember being at a transfer station, looking closely at a massive pile of garbage, and noticing a surprising number of items that were obviously still usable. The amount of perfectly good stuff that ends up in our garbage is overwhelming. Wouldn’t it be ideal if we could rescue these materials before they are crushed, compacted and shipped off to a landfill? 

Enter ReClaim It! Reuse. Repair. Reimagine. 

ReClaim It! is a new venture born from the GLEAN project, a partnership between crackedpots, Recology and Metro. By collaborating with these other organizations, GLEAN artists create original works of art using materials salvaged from the garbage and now ReClaim It! makes these materials available to everyone in their new retail space. At ReClaim It!, you’ll not only find reused art, but also the materials and inspiration you need to make your own unique creations. And everything in the store was saved from the piles of discards at the Metro Central Transfer Station. 

ReClaim It! is located at 1 N Killingsworth St and open 11 a.m. – 6 p.m. on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. Plan ahead before going so that you are prepared to transport your treasures home. Why? Because once you walk through the door, you’ll find all sorts of unique items for your art and DIY projects. 

At their recent grand opening event, I found doors, salvaged wood, unique pieces of trim, bicycle parts, metal, musical instruments, assorted furniture and furniture parts, garden tools, and a wide assortment of interesting doodads.  If you’re looking for artistic inspiration, visit the gallery space at the back of the store, currently showing art made by GLEAN artists. 

As I perused the shelves, I noticed people picking up and carrying off all sorts of things – and everyone had that look of excitement that comes from discovering something really cool that they can turn into something even cooler. I stopped in front of a shelf stacked with pieces of metal, and that’s when I saw it – a sheet of hardware cloth – all rusty and beautiful with an edge that looked like fringe. I had to have it. As a welder, I saw potential in the material. I picked it up, paid for it, and walked out of the store with that feeling of happiness that comes from knowing I am reusing something in a creative way. I’m hooked and can’t wait to go back!” 

Find the inspiration you need for creative reuse at ReClaim It! or any of these upcoming events sponsored by crackedpots: 

crackedpots art show at McMenamins Edgefield
Tuesday, July 22 and Wednesday, July 23, 2014

GLEAN art show at Disjecta
Opening reception on Friday, August 8, 2014, 6 – 9 p.m.
8371 N Interstate Ave. in Portland
Show runs through the month of August

Spring neighborhood cleanups inspire reuse

Spring neighborhood cleanups inspire reuse

Cindy Correll, Reuse Alliance Oregon Chapter chair and Be Resourceful partner, encourages reuse at neighborhood cleanup events.

“Neighborhoods all across Portland hold cleanup events to give residents a chance to reduce waste and unwanted items from their home, basement or garage. If you’ve participated in a cleanup, you know how satisfying it feels to get rid of clutter.

Sometimes you have things that are still perfectly usable, but you don’t need them. Several nonprofit organizations around town welcome donations of household goods, furniture, appliances and building materials, both new and used. Learning about these organizations and what items they accept, and then driving to each location to make deliveries, takes time and effort. Wouldn’t it be convenient if you could just bring your reusable items to your neighborhood cleanup event and drop all of this stuff off in one place? Reuse Alliance thinks so.

Building reuse communities

Reuse Alliance is a national nonprofit organization working to increase awareness of the environmental, social and economic benefits of reuse. The Oregon Chapter, based in Portland, supports Reuse Alliance’s mission locally. Seeing an opportunity to educate the public about the benefits of reuse while also putting reuse into practice, the chapter developed a pilot program to collect reusable items at two neighborhood cleanup events. With many cleanups already collecting reusable items, it seemed the perfect time to expand reuse options.

To prepare for the pilot, Reuse Alliance learned about cleanups from the experts – the coordinators who organize these events – and enlisted the assistance of some nonprofit organizations that regularly accept reusable goods in donation.

Working in partnership with the Bureau of Planning and Sustainability (BPS), Reuse Alliance is conducting two pilot reuse events this spring. The pilot’s goal is to increase the number of cleanups that offer reuse options going forward and to inspire cleanups that already practice reuse to expand their collection of reusable items.

Pilot program events

North Tabor and Mt Tabor neighborhood associations are hosting their event on Saturday, April 26, 9 a.m. – 1 p.m. at Mt Tabor Middle School at 5800 SE Ash St (parking lot, SE 57th Ave entrance).

Southwest Neighborhood Inc. is hosting their event for residents of all Southwest Portland neighborhood associations on Saturday, May 10, 9 a.m. – 1 p.m. at Portland Christian Center, 5700 SW Dosch Rd.

At both events, participating nonprofit organizations Community Warehouse, Habitat for Humanity ReStore, Community Cycling Center and others will collect reusable items in a centralized area, allowing residents to bring all their reusable items to one spot.

With the reuse area positioned near the event entrance, residents drop off their reusable items first. Putting reuse at the forefront of the cleanups also gives Reuse Alliance the opportunity to inform attendees about options for offloading reusable goods in the future."

Take action

If you live in one of the neighborhoods participating in the reuse pilots, bring reusable items to the eventsLearn more about Neighborhood Cleanup events in our recent post and to verify what items are accepted. Find out about Reuse Alliance and news about Oregon Chapter meetings and community involvement.

Get rid of clutter (and find stuff you need) at neighborhood cleanup events all over Portland

Get rid of clutter (and find stuff you need) at neighborhood cleanup events all over Portland

Spring is here, which means it’s time to clear out the clutter from your home, basement or garage!

There are nearly 50 neighborhood cleanup events scheduled throughout Portland during the spring months. Volunteers from neighborhood associations coordinate these events and have been offering more options for reuse and swapping at the events every year. Last year, 33 neighborhood cleanups incorporated onsite reuse options, allowing neighbors to take, swap or buy items immediately. 

Now in its sixth year, Trash to Treasure in North Portland is Portland’s largest swap event and is hosted as part of the St. Johns and Cathedral Park neighborhood cleanup. The daylong event includes over 5,000 items being exchanged between families at no cost.

This year’s Trash to Treasure is on Saturday, April 26, 9 a.m. – 3 p.m. at Red Sea Church, 7535 N Chicago Ave. It is open to the public, free of charge and 100 percent volunteer run. Be Resourceful will have a booth at the event so residents can learn more about resourceful living and share community resources.

This video shows how Trash to Treasure comes together and builds community. 

The seven Neighborhood Coalitions have listings of the scheduled cleanup events by neighborhood association.

Find contact information for your neighborhood association from the Office of Neighborhood Involvement or call 503-823-4519. Metro offers resources for planning a community cleanup event. Contact the Bureau of Planning and Sustainability at 503-823-7202 for possible cleanup dates, locations, costs and accepted materials.

Borrow and share kitchen wares in NE and SE Portland

Borrow and share kitchen wares in NE and SE Portland

Kitchen Share is a network of kitchen tool libraries building community through the sharing of equipment, skills, traditions and food. They offer dehydrators, canning equipment, ice cream makers, juicers, mixers, bread makers, durable dishes and more.

On a recent Saturday, Alicia Polacok, from Be Resourceful partner Bureau of Planning and Sustainability, stopped by Kitchen Share Southeast. Founder Robin Koch was volunteering that day, and Alicia had the opportunity to talk with her about her project.

When Robin Koch started Kitchen Share Southeast in August 2012, she modeled it on the Southeast Portland Tool Library and wanted it to be a combination of their model for borrowing tools, along with other organizations that were popping up around Portland that are part of the sharing community.

Brentwood-Darlington resident Emily Jameson has been a member since 2013 and stopped by that Saturday to borrow a juicer. Emily was looking to try juicing for the first time. Instead of buying an expensive piece of equipment that takes up more room in her kitchen, she borrowed the juicer to give it a try and see if she liked it.

This is what Robin is striving for – to provide a service where borrowing and sharing items is common and where the benefits include less of an environmental and financial impact around consumption.

Kitchen Share Southeast has close to 300 members and over 200 items available to borrow. Robin said residents often donate items when combining households with another person, removing unused items when moving or assisting aging parents when they shift into retirement homes.

More recently, Robin got involved with a group in Northeast Portland who was interested in bringing a kitchen share to their neighborhoods as well. There was a decision between the groups to pull some resources, including a website, and offer support to what is now Kitchen Share Northeast. It opened in August 2013 and is housed in the same space as the Northeast Portland Tool Library. Both kitchen shares and tool libraries lease space from churches.

These community resources are membership-based and have limited hours due to the grassroots, volunteer nature of the organizations. An ongoing step is recruiting neighbors and members to get involved so the organization can staff more hours and make it easier to use the library.  Robin said it the libraries would be much improved if they could be open more hours.

Do you have kitchen items you no longer use? Are you interested in building community through events such as do-it-yourself classes on cooking and food preservation?

This video captures what Kitchen Share Southeast is and how it works. Check it out and get involved.

Another local organization where residents can become members and borrow kitchen items is the Home Goods Library in Southeast Portland.

4 Tips to help make moving easier

4 Tips to help make moving easier

There's no getting around it – moving takes time and work. By planning ahead, tapping into local resources and using a checklist, you can move with fewer headaches!

Here are some general moving tips to get ahead of what might be a stressful time for you and those around you.

1. Take stock of your stuff

Before you begin packing, set aside any items you no longer want. Depending on how much you want to get rid of, you may want to have a garage sale, offer items to your friends and neighbors, or donate them. If you have paint, chemicals, cleaners or other hazardous materials, take them to one of Metro’s Household Hazardous Waste Facilities. Online resources, such as Craig’s List and Freecycle, allow you to sell or giveaway stuff that others may want.

2. Create a checklist

Make a checklist of everything that must be packaged and moved out, even if that list is very small. As you pack, you’ll get the satisfaction of crossing those items off your list.

3. Find used boxes and supplies for everything on your checklist

Don’t forget to use your bags, suitcases or other empty containers to save resources and space! Borrow used boxes from others or collect them from stores. Save newspapers to pack your belongings. There are also companies that rent out boxes and crates, such as Alien Box.

4. Move yourself, with help

If you know someone who has access to a truck or van, and are willing to help you move, take them up on the offer. Local car rental companies or Zipcar also offer rentals of larger vehicles. Or move by bike and turn the drudgery of moving into a “stuff” parade with a built-in housewarming party!

Save money on kids' clothes

Save money on kids' clothes

Kids grow fast! Finding gently used clothes at secondhand stores and clothing swaps is a great way to save money and help teach kids about the value of resourceful living. As kids move through clothes from growing up, playing hard, or the inevitable lost-and-found bin, parents need affordable options and tips for saving money on kids’ clothing.

Some of Portland's used children's clothing stores and resale shops are filled with great quality, and sometimes never worn, clothes and shoes for all ages. They allow parents to buy the right size clothes for the right season for their ever growing kids. When you’re done with those clothes, you can sell them back at some of these same shops so another family can use them.

Swapping clothes with friends and neighbors is another option, especially connecting with those who have kids older than yours, where a cycle of hand-me-downs can happen. 

Local resources such as sewing classes, cobblers and tailors can help you repair, rather than retire, garments with small tears, missing buttons and broken zippers. Visit a Portland-area Repair Café for free assistance on mending and fixing clothes.

Metro Parent maintains a comprehensive list of consignment shops in and around Portland. Look for coupons for many of these shops in your print or mobile Chinook Book.