A Resource Links Page

Recycling-oriented topics:

Natural Building

Fire Science

Rocket Stoves


Edible Landscape


We believe in appropriate technology; we teach and foster creative use of materials, and minimize unnecessary expense and waste.  We prefer re-usables to recyclables, and in general we like minimally processed technology.  It doesn't take much work to recycle lettuce in the garden, but if you buy it in a bag you've got a bag on your hands.  This leads to one of Erica's favorite teaching points:

A Permanent Solution to a Temporary Problem is a Permanent Problem.

Bananas do fine in their own skins; Easter eggs do fine in straw baskets that can be dropped on thje compost heap when they wear out.  We don't need "durable" packaging for hamburgers.   We don't need concrete sidewalks to latrines we're planning to move in 2 years.  You get the picture.

Sometimes you have these things, and you need to deal with them.  Whether you'd like to cut down on your trash pile, clear your home of "potentially useful" items, gain some "actually useful" space, or get started on a craft project without taking the time to build up a sufficient supply of paper-towel rolls, here is a list of resources in the Portland area (and some other cities) for converting old junk into creative capital.

Metro -- your source for all manner of recycling questions and toxic waste disposal.  Old batteries, industrial solvents, paint, metal, yard debris, you name it.  A good source for compost, cheap recycled paint, composting bins, recycling labels, yard-debris, and stormwater-mitigation products.  Also good for assistance figuring out other things.

Craigslist -- searchable classified ads, with many posting categories free.  A great way to get actual money for old junk, with the option of getting the buyer to come haul it away.   People will buy anything; computers, appliances, scrap metal, furniture.  List is divided into local areas, so you can contact only people who are close enough to stop by for your garage sale. 

SCRAP - the School and Community Re-Use Action Project: they take all kinds of craft materials, yardage, office supplies, and often have weird things like overstock tea cannisters and pampas grass plumes.   Bargain prices.

The ReBuilding Center: donate old building supplies, or have their team come "deconstruct" a building and haul it away.  A great source for serviceable building components like windows, doors, lumber, and cabinetry; with a little scrounging, you can often find period parts for restoration remodeling.   Other sources for odd parts and recycled old fixtures are Hippo Hardware, Fairly Honest Bill's Just Good Used Stuff,  and Rejuvenation.  There's a Tool Library in North Portland for those who live there, and various neighborhoods house cooperative wood shops, ceramics, and printmaking studios.

FreeGeek: a recyclery for technology, mainly computers and associated electronics.  They charge fees for accepting certain items like old bulky monitors; they give computers free of charge to certain folks, and offer discounts on refurbished computers and accessories to the general public.

The Co-Op:  Most places have at least one cooperative grocery.  Re-use your containers to buy bulk food, soap, and other products; many co-ops accept unusual items for recycling, including donated containers for use by other customers.  Some have bulletin boards for other community connections.  Most support other local businesses like market gardens, flower growers, retail crafts and forest products, cooking classes, or even yoga and dance instruction.  Try People's Food Co-Op, Alberta Street Co-Op, Food Front, Food Fight, locally-owned groceries like Big City Produce, or even health-oriented commercial grocers like New Seasons Markets, Wild Oats/Nature's, and Whole Foods Marketplace.

Thrift Stores/Consignment:  There are high-end thrift stores downtown and in many neighborhood business centers.  Check yellow pages for details.  Goodwill Industries is an international chain that provides jobs & training for workers in need, and turns a tidy profit in the process.  Since they stopped teaching people to repair appliances, some of us are more skeptical.  The Bins are the place to go for dirt-cheap objects by the pound.  Retail stores have decent prices on decent secondhand clothing, but watch out for used household junk at new retail prices.  GoodWill take all clothing, kitchenwares, most appliances, toys, and household furnishings.  Donation centers near retail outlets and scattered pickup spots in neighborhoods and industrial areas.

Donation/assistance centers:   Food, clothing, shelter, and help for struggling families: these organizations use your donations to give assistance directly to folks that need it.  Salvation Army, Veteran's Administration, Portland Rescue Mission, St. Vincent de Paul Society, Oregon Food Bank, Ecumenical Ministries of Oregon, Sisters of the Road Cafe, and others.  The ARC does neighborhood pickups in some areas.  Most not-for-profits can accept donated cars in partnership with Volunteers of America.  Most of the above prefer unopened food, clean used clothing of good quality ("interview clothes" are a priority), toiletries, and household items in good condition.

Education and Cultural: 

- OMSI keeps a stockroom of donated craft & science resources available to its educators; it's also open to classroom teachers by arrangement.  Includes glass lenses, some labware, the usual household extras like plastic tubs, babyfood jars, cardboard tubes, etc.

- Audubon Society, Arbor Day Foundation, Metro, Northwest Earth Institute, SOLV, and others offer pamphlets and curriculum supplements for environmental and wilderness education. 

- DIY Network,, village building convergence, and other groups offer free and low-cost gatherings for learning new crafts, trades, and creative ways to use scraps and reclaimed materials.

- American Chemical Society sponsors annual events celebrating chemical knowledge, and offers materials like periodic tables.  Armed forces offer educational recruitment materials.  Architects, Women in Trades, Engineers, and many other professional groups offer resources and materials for students interested in their professions.

- Educational Service Districts serve the public schools, while programs like Scouts, Boys and Girls' Club, Outdoor School, 4-H, FFA, and Extension Services work both within and across district boundaries.