A Resource Links Page


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, compostables to most other forms of refuse, 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. Eggs do fine in straw baskets that can be dropped on the compost heap when they wear out.  We don't need "durable" packaging for hamburgers.   We don't need centuries' worth of concrete sidewalk to reach 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 with a clear conscience, here is a list of resources in the Portland area (and some other cities) for converting old junk into creative capital.

Portland, Oregon Recycle Resources:

Metro -- your greater Portland 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.

GI Junk Removal: one of several businesses in this market, which we happen to have worked with.  If you don't have time to research disposal options, they will come get your unwanted items and recycle or otherwise dispose of them as appropriate.  

Other Local Resources (wherever you are):

The Co-Op:  Most areas 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:  

Online Clothing Resale: This market has expanded a lot recently, and includes everything from army surplus on eBay to fashion-forward resale stores like (Women's clothing and accessories), (Men's, women's, and all types of clothing).

Nationwide Resale / Donation Centers: Nationwide groups collecting clothing, furniture, and other donated items for charitable purposes include Goodwill Industries (their main charitable work appears to be providing training and jobs for their own employees)... the Salvation Army, Habitat for Humanity's ReStores, St. Vincent de Paul Societyand occasionally the Red Cross (mostly they collect money and organize blood donation drives, but sometimes they'll collect bulk items as needed for specific disasters).

Local donation/assistance centers:  Many local organizations use your donations to give assistance directly to folks that need it.  Local assistance groups in Oregon include: Oregon Food Bank, Care to Share, Ecumenical Ministries of Oregon, Sisters of the Road Cafe, Veteran's Administration, Portland Rescue Mission, ARC, and others.  Many of these can do neighborhood pickups by pre-arrangement.  Most not-for-profits can accept donated cars in partnership with Volunteers of America.  Most of the above prefer items in very good condition: unopened food, clean used clothing of good quality, unopened toiletries, and household items in new or good condition.

Education and Cultural: 

- OMSI used to keep a stockroom of donated craft & science resources, available to educators and classroom teachers by arrangement.  Included 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, MakerSpace, 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.

- 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.