By Bonita Davis, Master Recycler and SE Resident

It’s time to reimagine, get creative, repair and reuse!

Over the past two months we have all grappled with how to navigate our lives with the presence of COVID-19. Businesses were shuttered in unprecedented numbers and those of us who live by “REDUCE, REUSE and RECYCLE” became aware of what appeared to be losses.

Out of concerns for safe handling, some grocery stores stopped taking back cans and bottles for the $.10 deposit (although BottleDrop facilities and kiosks never closed), others removed plastic film recycling bins and plastic bags even made a comeback in some stores due to a reported paper bag shortage.

Bringing your own coffee cup became more difficult as major retailers such as Starbucks stopped selling their popular reusable cups and discontinued filling durable cups brought into the store.

Groceries closed food bins requiring scoops and those bringing reusable bags into stores were being asked to bag their own and changes just keep coming.

Some good news is that area businesses are reopening, including our favorite reuse stores. Here are two of my favorites I hope you will visit soon.

Village Merchants, 4035 SE Division St., was opened by Marcee Meijer in 1998 with an environmental philosophy of “less is more.” Meijer has won the title of “the Godmother of consignment” and is the recipient for the 2020 Best of Portland Award in the Thrift Category. Meijer believes the success of her business is because it is a space that is truly about community.

Now reopened, the shop is filled with most things you might need for your home and garden, plus clothing, shoes, jewelry and much more – all for sale, trade or consignment.

To keep everyone safe, CDC Guidelines are in effect with face masks required, physical distancing reminders, new dressing room protocols and clear barriers on the counters. The restroom has been closed to the public. Learn more and get current hours at villagemerchants.net.

ReClaim It! is a popular regional draw located at 1 N. Killingsworth. Opened as a storefront by the non-profit arts group, Cracked Pots (crackedpots.org), the shop is filled to the brim with metals, wood, hardware, household furnishings, art and art materials, antiques and treasures.

Volunteers glean the majority of what they offer from the Metro Transfer Station operated by Recology, rescuing valuable materials and creative reuse supplies from the landfill (3,000 lbs. per week!). This clean, bright, organized shop is delightful.

As ReClaim It! reopens, you have two ways to shop. You can shop online and schedule contact-free curbside pickup or make an appointment to shop in-store. Go to reclaimitpdx.org for current days, hours and details.

Materials Management Tip: The City of Portland is asking that we tightly and securely bag all garbage before placing it in the bins for pickup. This protects the health and safety of waste collectors and the community. This only applies to garbage; do not bag recycling.

Also, NO plastic bags are allowed in the blue bins.

Visit portland.gov/bps for COVID-19 updates.