By Bonita Davis, SE Resident and Master Recycler

Most people I know agree on one thing: 2020 has been a stressful one and it isn’t over.  For me, navigating new ways to work, recreate, shop and socialize has been invigorating in some ways, taxing in others.

One thing for certain, I need to refocus on the positives, so I set out to find examples of waste reduction happening in creative ways.

In the news are high end retailers, both brick and mortar and online, offering used fashions alongside new merchandise.

Major companies such as Unilever, are experimenting with less or no product packaging and moving to dry and concentrated versions of products to reduce weight and fuel consumption used in shipping.

Retail clothing companies are contracting with businesses such as The Renewal Workshop in Hood River to give returned clothing a chance to be resold after cleaning, repairing or refashioning. Learn about how this company is keeping clothing out of landfills at renewalworkshop.com.

Here in Portland, while searching for a hat, I remembered a window filled top to bottom with hats in the heart of our neighborhood.

Flipside Hats, 4438 SE Belmont St., so impressed me with the fit and the flattering designs of their hats that I bought several.   

Much later that I learned that Flipside Hats takes “the path less traveled.” Their hats are sourced from abandoned materials and industry excess and handcrafted locally in small batches. Now I like my hats even more.

This business is all about sustainability and being part of the waste solution. Check out the Belmont store, shop online at flipsidehats.com or find them at local New Seasons Markets and Whole Foods stores.

More good news: the Cracked Pots ReClaim It! Store, 1 N. Killingworth, is one of 13 local organizations that received 2020 DEQ grants. The funding will enable them to increase their capacity to repair more items by training more volunteers to do repairs and purchasing better tools to accomplish those tasks.

Great results are already happening with items once destined for the landfill, now ready for another life. If you would like to be part of this dynamic organization, they would like to talk to you about becoming a volunteer.

Adjusting to changing conditions, ReClaim It! is currently partnering with companies, commercial entities and other organizations, other than the Metro Transfer Station, to divert materials from the landfill.

To shop, volunteer or check on how you can donate go to reclaimitpdx.org.

Remember China rejecting our bales of recyclable materials in 2017 because of contamination? Just south of us in Oregon City, Pioneer Recycling Services received a grant from Metro to improve some infrastructure.

The grant was awarded last December, for the 2020 installation of “optical sorters to remove contaminants from mixed paper to make it more valuable in the markets for recycled paper.”

Previously, Pioneer received grant money for two robots that use artificial intelligence to speed up sorting mixed recycling materials with greater accuracy and efficiency. For more information, go to bit.ly/PioneerRecycling.

Whether waste reduction is achieved through technology or our willingness to consume differently or a combination of both, it is up to all of us. There is a lot we can do, even in a year like this one.

We can all recycle right at home and work, say “no” to one-time use items when possible; buy local, lend a hand to clean up projects; support policies that support repair and reuse and communicate our values to businesses through feedback and how we spend our dollars.