Day 96, 97: OR; green families, bicycling, green Diapers, recycling…

Googling Oregon on the Internet, we kept finding “greenest state in America,” so we entered Portland with pretty high expectations of environmental…ness washing over us and the YERT camera. Like every other environmentally conscious place we’ve been, the Subarus are here in spades…

Even though YERT wasn’t sure that we’d captured completley the green essence of the city, we decided to take a few hours off on our last night in Portland and just be human, visiting our already-green families. Ben and I went to Jason and his Marcelle’s house, ate grape tomatoes out of their beautiful organic backyard garden and joined them for vegetarian dinner at a local local eatery while Mark continued visiting with his family (Carl, Darcy and little Kieran) and doing homework.

Monday was Columbus Day, which we kept hearing was a holiday… We set out in the morning with sleep in our eyes, determined to catch some commuters cycling over the Hawthorne Bridge on their way to work. Ben and Mark set up camp on the downtown fork of the bridge and i set off in search of…what else…coffee. (Surprisingly, Starbucks on two adjacent corners was the “option.” I was kind of expecting some kind of organic local brew? Call me spoiled…i DID just come from Seattle.) Anyhow, we got one interview with a cyclist and a couple with pedestrians, and got some nice footage of the bicycles passing autos on the bridge.

Next, we headed over to the headquarters of gdiapers to talk with its founders about the benefit of compostable diapers as an antidote to the environmental impacts of “50 million disposable diapers entering the landfill every day, where they sit for up to 500 years…” I was excited to talk to co-founder Jason Graham-Nye because I grew up nannying for families that used cloth diapers and some who used “disposables.” The former uses a LOT of water to clean and the latter is just SO MUCH WASTE. My brother and his wife used compostable diapers for their son, Miles, and loved them, so I bought gdiapers for my two girlfriends who were having their first babes. Girls? In between feedings, you wanna let me know how that’s going?
Moms, I encourage you to check gdiapers out, they’re AMAZING!!!

While we’re on the subject of waste, I’ll skip ahead a day because we went to visit Bring RecyclingPlanetary Improvement” Store in Eugene this morning, a veritable bounty of a salvage yard, and I am inspired. Dad you would have been thrilled. Bring is proud to be “one of the nation¬ís oldest non-profit recyclers.” I asked Julie Daniels if we should be thinking: Reuse, Reduce, Recycle, in that order – and she said, “Rethink. We want people to rethink how they are buying things in the first place. We want them to understand that the biggest amount of energy is used in the initial product manufacture, and to rethink how much stuff they really need to buy in the first place. Then, if they have to recycle something, they can bring it here.”

Bring’s mission is beautiful:

to promote a healthy and sustainable environment through education, innovative conservation programs and
community involvement in conserving natural resources. We help people understand the connection between
the resources they use and
the clean air, pure water and wild places they value.

and hasn’t changed since they began as a non-profit organization in 1971, but there are some new things: They are now bonded and licensed to help people in the deconstruction of their property. If someone is remodeling or demolishing, they can hire Bring to come and take it all their salvage away, which is a useful service since proper recycling of demolition materials is required by Oregon law. (yay!) This extra income has afforded the company the support to move to a new location with much more space, and to begin to retrofit existing buildings into a solar energy-powered office complete with living roof, bio-swales with native plants to catch stormwater runoff, filtering toxins that spill onto the parking lot from visitors’ cars and machine parts that are recycled there. From what we can see, Bring walks the talk. The “new” office’s walls used to be the roof of Babes topless bar, the lighting fixtures are the ones that were already there, just with much more efficient bulbs, the bathroom floors are inlaid with random pieces of salvaged marmoleum, and the outdoor decks are recycled telephone poles and TREX.

Go Bring!!!

And the icing on this garbage cake is art! Bring has an eye to aesthetic, and a belief in the importance of art in a sustainable and meaningful life. There is art in the lobby for all to enjoy and regular art classes and craft reuse workshops at Bring to supplement instruction on the basics of recycling… we’re looking forward to seeing some more of this…

Oregon’s amazing recycling law

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