Portlandia and The 5 Rs: From Refuse to Recycle

The 5 "R"s: From Refuse to Recycle

A few years ago I thought a new show coming to IFC – loosely based on my city – would be funny, probably unpopular with non-locals, and really all those things that come along with a tv show shooting in your area. Instead, people forget what the point of satire is and I’ve seen misconceptions, derision, and local frustration. 

On occasion it hits upon something that is a part of the larger Northwest culture. Portland is a weird place and we have placed value on things that many other places have not yet. It can make us great and the reason why so many of us love it here while in the same breath not let it show too much for fear of our place becoming something based more on stereotype than the complex reality it is.

But why am I going on and on about this when the topic of the day is the importance of the 5 “R”s? I was reminded today just how wonderful it is to live where I live, even if these ideas can be taken to the comedic extreme, they truly are all a part of the culture of the metro area here.


Refuse. It really is as easy as it sounds. Refuse what isn’t needed and what isn’t wanted paying particular attention to the environmental impact of a product before it reaches your hands and what it will be after you get it.

For my family, these are things we work on refusing with greater degrees of success depending on who is making the decision:

Reduce. Everything has a cost: environmental, financial, time. This “R” is here to help reduce all of those. 

The top green changes you can make for both cost and environmental benefits are:

Reuse. Ditch those disposables and jump on the reusable bandwagon! Not only has it gotten easier to find great reusable products, but with Pinterest you can find so many creative ways to reuse just about anything these days.

This is an ongoing process for most, so start small, start big, just start somewhere:

  • Reusable shopping bags, water bottles, paper towels/napkins, takeout containers, straws, etc.
  • Reuse those things you can’t refuse: glass jars for food storage, toilet paper rolls for art projects, gray water for watering plants, egg cartons to start seedlings. 

Repurpose. This is where the creative minds get to really have some fun, but those that need a little help have so many resources to choose from to repurpose just about anything that comes through your home.

  • My go-to repurposing on a daily basis is composting. 
  • Projects from knitting with old t-shirt strips to 

Recycle. There is a reason why recycling is last. While it is always preferable to recycle than contribute to the nearest landfill, there are numerous problems and the resources needed to accomplish this “R” well can be immense. Our first line of defense for a healthy home and planet is the first 4 “R”s, but when you have run through them all, choose recycling.


Join the Discussion!

    • What are your favorite tips for any of the 5 “R”s?
    • What challenges do you face where you live?
    • Does your family support each of the 5 “R”s?



Check out these great Green Sisters’ posts on the 5 Rs…

Green 4 U
Green Talk
The Greening Of Westford
Jen and Joey goes Green
The Soft Landing
Eco-Novice: Going Green Gradually

Green Sisterhood Etsy Handmade Giveaway

Handmade Giveaway by GreenSisterhood

2013 has been incredible for Green Sisterhood and we owe our success to your support!

And we want to show our appreciation so we are sponsoring a mega handmade giveaway for the holiday! I am choosing to forgo gifts in my own family this year and we are focusing on experiences instead, but this Etsy giveaway is too good to pass up!

Buying handmade is the most eco-friendly way to shop and we are thrilled to introduce these eco-friendly goodies from the handmade community on Etsy.

So check out these shops and leave a comment (required) as to what other items you would like Santa to bring you.

Green Sisterhood’s Eco-Friendly Holiday Handmade Giveaway!

Handmade Giveaway by Green Sisterhood

1) Herban Lifestyle – Man’s Grooming Set $40
2) zJayne – Set of 3 Lavender Dryer Sachet $15
3) House of Metalworks – Yoga Hamsa Necklace $23
4) Happy Earth Tea – Organic Immune Boosting Tea $12
5) Crunchy Betty – Exquisite Cleansing Oil $15.50
6) HerbanLuxe – Vegan Mascara $11.75
7) Reiter8 – Clutch made from boat sail $23
8) ecokaren – Eco Fabric Modal Scarf $30
9) Snackaby – Food Safe Reusable Snack Bags $23
10) Juniper Mercantile – Organic Unbleached Cotton Towels $15

And to improve your chances of winning, check out these participating bloggers and sign up for their email subscriptions and follow them on Facebook! You can find the widget to enter on their blogs as well.

Almost All the Truth
Condo Blues
Conscientious Confusion
Creative Green Living
Healthful Mama
Healthy Home Magazine
Glue and Glitter
Growing Slower
Jen and Joey Go Green
Mindfully Frugal Mom
Nature Moms Blog
Non-Toxic Kids
O’Boy Organics
The Greening of Westford
The Green Divas
The Soft Landing

Here is how to enter!


If you can’t see the widget below, CLICK HERE TO SEE the FORM AND ENTER

a Rafflecopter giveaway

NOTE: The giveaway is for US and Canada residents only and ends on Monday at 11:59PM EST, December 16, 2013. Please read the Terms and Conditions at the end of the Rafflecopter widget before entering. By entering, you are agreeing to subscribe to Green Sisterhood’s email newsletter.
Disclaimer: This giveaway is sponsored by Green Sisterhood

Kickstarter Wednesday: Glasses! A Board Book

Almost All The Truth - Glasses Kickstarter Readers of this blog know my three children wear glasses, and two have since they were tiny. Where this comes from we still have no idea, but one thing I know for certain is that I want a world that eliminates any stigma, stereotype, or challenges for children who wear glasses. That is what this Kickstarter from Ann Zawistoski is all about.

Consider supporting this Kickstarter and read through to the bottom for more detailed information on how this book project came to be.  

Almost All The Truth - scenes from the glasses photo gallery Ann Zawistoski is a mama on a mission. She says of her latest project…

Zoe [her daughter] got glasses when she was a year old.  I really believe that books can be a wonderful way for kids (and adults!) to think about and process situations that they’re facing.  So I went looking for books for her about wearing glasses.  And there are lots of books about getting glasses, but they almost all happen at school.  They almost all involve silly scenes of kids not being able to see well, so they go to the wrong bathroom, or read the wrong words on the board.  And they almost all have stories about another kid teasing them for wearing glasses.  Some of those books are great, but they aren’t great for a one year old, and probably not even for a three-year old.  What I wanted was some books that talk about helping them see, and that also show kids in glasses just being kids, so she’d see other kids that looked like her.  I kept hoping that someone would write that book
We found other ways to help Zoe adjust to her glasses, and I started LittleFourEyes.com, as a way to connect with other parents and help them find the information they needed.  I put together a photo gallery, mostly to show the parents how glasses don’t hide or detract from their children’s beauty (something I hear from a lot of parents who are worried about their child getting glasses).  So I was surprised the first time I heard that the kids loved looking at the pictures, too.  But I kept hearing these stories, that parents would sit down and look at the gallery together with their child whenever their child was feeling bad about wearing their glasses, and seeing these great pictures of other kids in glasses would help the kids feel better about wearing their glasses. 
So the idea for this book is one that has been rattling in my brain for years (Zoe got her glasses nearly 6 years ago), asking to please get out.  I’m a librarian, not an author, so I kind of ignored it for a while, but I just remember how much Zoe loved looking at books with photos of other kids, and it still breaks my heart when she asks why she doesn’t see other kids her age in glasses (and she’s 7!).  So this is the book that I really wish existed when Zoe first got her glasses.  It’s simple, there’s no plot or conflict.  It’s a board book, so it will stand up better to the wear and tear from young toddlers and babies.  Just pictures of young kids in real glasses (rather than the ill-fitting photo prop glasses that you see in some stock photos), with a rhyming text about the glasses.

I actually talked with a children’s book publisher who explained to me that board books are some of the most expensive books to publish, but that you can’t charge much for them, so publishers aren’t too interested in publishing them unless they’re quite assured of selling a lot.  Now glasses in babies and toddlers aren’t as rare as a lot of people think – about 1% of kids that age wear glasses (and 5% probably should be wearing glasses, but that’s a problem for another time) – but a board book targeted at young kids in glasses is not a recipe for a runaway bestseller.  So I didn’t think there was much chance of this happening until I learned about Kickstarter, and I realized that I knew some people that could help with the production and distribution.
I still really believe in the power of books to help kids (and adults!) for all sorts of reasons and all sorts of occasions.  And I think there need to be books for really young kids in glasses.  Vision is so very important, and treating vision problems early is vital to a child’s visual development and their pre-literacy skills.  I want to do what I can to encourage those kids to have the best vision possible.  I hope you will consider helping by backing my Kickstarter.

Leaving to Get Well

All my bags are packed I’m ready to go
I’m standin’ here outside your door
I hate to wake you up to say goodbye
But the dawn is breakin’ it’s early morn
The taxi’s waitin’ he’s blowin’ his horn
Already I’m so lonesome I could die

So kiss me and smile for me
Tell me that you’ll wait for me
Hold me like you’ll never let me go
Cause I’m leavin’ on a jet plane
Don’t know when I’ll be back again
Oh baby, I hate to go

Almost All The Truth - Leaving on a Jet Plane


I left once – nearly two weeks ago now – and I am doing it again. This time to go home.

Leaving is always the hardest part, from wherever you are leaving from. I sit on this plane just counting the seconds until I home again. I can’t wait to walk through the door, drop my heavy bags – trying to remember why I thought taking my hard case suitcase and loads of books was a good idea again – and just collapse into bed. The house will be still, little ones asleep, and I am ready to be in my own bed in my husband’s arms once more. Then I await the happy little voices and cuddles in the morning.

Leaving the hospital truly is bittersweet. I haven’t felt that good in a long time and can only hope to continue the journey we began once I return to the “real world” with real responsibilities, feelings, commitments, and simply life: good, bad, or otherwise.

So here I go… and I am glad I can say I am on the right path and this journey was the right thing to do.