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

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Portlandia and The 5 Rs: From Refuse to Recycle — 3 Comments

  1. Pingback: 15 Ways to Recycle or Repurpose Your Underwear

  2. So this is what you were working on? Wonderful job! I was going to start feeling like an eco-slacker until I thought about the day. I shared home-canned fruits and vegies that had been locally produced in our bountiful valley and purchased directly from the growers, no additives or packing room waxes included! The cake was made from local eggs, milk, flour and etc. – the sugar, vanilla, baking soda, pecans, coconut and chocolate were the only things produced outside of Oregon. Birthday present was wrapped in the Sunday funnies instead of new gift paper. And then I took home a bunch of empty jars for packing this year’s harvest-to-come. Yay especially because all those things were part of normal daily choices. It’s a no-guilt day for me!! I’m going to go eat a piece of cake now!! xoxo :D

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