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Here's the fourth of five visits to Portlandy things I love. We seem to have a theme of redistribution going on. Today I visited two favorite east-side reduce/reuse/recycle places.

The floor and corners of my former-but-now-demolished closet yielded up several bags of yarn. Craft-hobby-creative supplies are hard to get rid of because they have monetary and sentimental value. Even though I'm willing to let them go, I hate to give them away indiscriminately. That's why, even after the massive decluttering of Project Empty, my closet remained crammed with the stuff.

Recently I found a new and wonderful way to move it along. It's an operation called SCRAP Creative Reuse Center. Like the Rebuilding Center, it's non-profit and takes donations, which are tax-deductible. They take yarn, fabric, beads, little boxes, pens, paints--basically all kinds of little doo-dads that creative people can use for making stuff. And it's right up the street from me.

Scrap Creative Reuse Center in Portland, with their red-trailer craft gallery
Eleanor O laden with donations outside Scrap. The red trailer is a craft gallery

SCRAP is located in a grungy old light-industrial space, filled with bins and racks of oddball stuff. I saw a barrel full of never-used wine corks, one of pre-printed small cardboard boxes in their unfolded-up state, rolls of silver mylar tape narrow enough to knit with, buckets of crayons sorted by color...a strange array, donated by end-users and industry alike, thematically linked only by "wow, that's kind of cool! I could make something out of that, I bet..."

Bins of stuff at Scrap
Sign reading Re-Boutique at the entrance to the craft shop at Scrap

Barrels of stuff at Scrap including little white jarsMore barrels of stuff at Scrap, including rolls of skinny silver mylar
Stuff you find at Scrap

Two vinyl record albums turned into wall clocks at Scrap
One of the fun re-purposed object ideas in the Re-Boutique

The lady wearing cat-ears who accepted my yarn donation was happy to have it, and we spent a couple of pleasant minutes chit-chatting about the suddenly-gorgeous, perfect-for-bike-riding weather. A children's craft class was just getting underway so several moms and kids were filing in.

Later in the day I went to Free Geek, yet another non-profit where you donate stuff and they do good with it--in this case, electronic stuff.

The exterior of Free Geek in Portland on a sunny day, with a group of customers outside

I wasn't donating today, just looking for a particular adapter, which I found for three bucks. (It didn't actually serve my purpose once I got it home, so I guess I'll donate it back again.)

Crossposted from Dreamwidth, where there are comment count unavailable comments.


( 5 comments — Leave a comment )
Mar. 12th, 2014 10:00 am (UTC)
I wish we had this variety of places for recycling in the UK. It might help me declutter - one of the factors limiting me is the feeling that stuff is too good to throw away, or that it is a waste to throw it away. Free Geek in particular would be good, although to be fair some charities here take some electronics.
Mar. 12th, 2014 04:35 pm (UTC)
That's been precisely the value of these places for me: the sense that I can pass along some of the stuff cluttering up my house; that someone else might be able to get some value from it. The "waste not, want not" urge is very deeply ingrained, isn't it?

Electronics are problematic--extremely fast obsolescence and loaded with hazardous materials. Free Geek uses donations to teach people how to build computers from parts; they donate the computers to schools and community centers (where, presumably, they eke a couple more years' worth of life out of old components and save the organizations some capital).

And they're pretty responsible about detailed recycling and hazardous waste disposal of the components they can't use. To be fair, they're also particular about what they will and won't take to begin with and they actually charge ten bucks or so to take things like CRT monitors.

I've heard that in the Scandinavian countries, the consumer has to pay the full price of eventual recycling or disposal of the things they buy, and that the manufacturers and retailers have to provide recycling and disposal methods. Not sure how widespread it is--maybe only on big things like cars--but heck, why not? It's like a bottle deposit on everything. We should all be doing that.
Mar. 12th, 2014 02:03 pm (UTC)
Both those places sound WONDERFUL. There are reuse centers here, but as far as I know none are for crafting or electronics specifically.
Mar. 12th, 2014 04:50 pm (UTC)
There's a business opportunity here that could be copied in any city, I think. So far in Portland I've discovered this model operating in building materials, bikes, hobby and craft supplies, and electronics. I suspect there may be others.

It's fascinating to watch this sector grow. I feel like each one of these operations is a little blade of grass pushing up through the rubble that rapacious corporatism has left behind. No revolution, just people finding quiet, creative ways to do (moderately) well while doing good. They pay rent, they employ at least a couple of people, they appear to have fun, and every one of them includes a community skill-building component.

Portland (for reasons completely outside my understanding) seems to have become a seed-bed for this type of thing, but it's certainly popping up all over the US. Something really cool is happening right before our eyes. I love seeing it happen.
Mar. 12th, 2014 05:01 pm (UTC)
I think it's *wonderful* that it's a growing sector. I firmly believe in that old adage about using things up, wearing them out, making them do or doing without and the idea that if you just can't do that you may as well pass it on to someone who can is so great.
( 5 comments — Leave a comment )



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