From the Farmer’s Market to the Rebuilding Center
Mar 5
This is about the right time of year for a discussion about cleaning out the garage, and where to take all that stuff in it. Since I wrote this post I have also discovered Freecycle. I posted some mattresses this week on Freecycle and they were gone in 12 hours. Nice. It's going to be sunny this weekend. Time to clean the garage....and here's the repeat:

Judging by the crowds at the Farmer's Market (Sunday mornings at Hillsdale), people in Portland are pretty damn passionate about locally sourced and fantastic food.

Whether you go for Chester berries (a blackberry / raspberry mix) or Astiana tomatoes, fresh bread or tamales for breakfast, or to pick up your CSA, you know what I'm talking about. The market is the place to be.

One year my friend Suz bought into a CSA and couldn't eat everything she received. I was the lucky recipient of her excess, and discovered tomatillos and thusly how easy it is to make green salsa. The next year my friend Carol and I split a share of our own. Fast forward a year or two and I'm buying 50+ pounds of tomatoes to roast and freeze for the winter, plus corn and berries, and more. Once frozen from fresh, fruits and veggies taste fantastic all winter, first of all. Second, the more I freeze, the less I bring home from the grocery store in plastic clamshells. Everyone wins.

And here's the connection to the Rebuilding Center. I want to put a small freezer in the garage to store more tomatoes, which requires making room in the garage. Now, I'm betting that most of you (also) have a less-than-orderly garage. Whether you want to make room for your car or a freezer, or just a path to the door, here are non-landfill tips for where to take your excess. Friendly reminder! (But who doesn't need reminders every once in a while?)

How to get started:
1. You know that rule for your closet: if you haven't worn it in a year, get rid of it? Well, in the garage you will likely find sports equipment and yard accoutrements you haven't used in ten years, as well as unidentifiable home improvement remnants. Start by removing the obvious items. If it hasn't been used in years or if you cannot identify it, put it on the pile. The more you remove, the more you will find to remove.
2. A big clean can be done in a day, but it can also be done over time. I'm a fan of filling the back of my car and taking care of one load of junk at a time - far less intimidating than committing to a giant clean-up day/week. But whatever floats your boat.

How to deal with the junk:
3. Friends! Reuse is better then recycle so Tiki torches, citronella oil, a patio umbrella (plus a fantastic steel umbrella stand made by my dad) went to pals with an evolving yard. Another friend is taking my old golf clubs for her vacation home. (An extra set of clubs is useful for guests.) Ask around, send some emails. You can decrease your pile this way. Share the wealth!
4. Rebuilding Center. With the back of my car filled with home improvement excess, I decided to loop through town hitting various recycling locations. I had done some initial online research regarding what could go where, but sometimes a field trip is necessary. The Rebuilding Center took my paint rollers, painter's plastic (the stuff painters tape over everything), miscellaneous plumbing kits, curtain rods, and light fixtures. (FYI: they do NOT take paint, caulk, or hydraulic cement.)
5. Metro. Here I picked up a list of paint stores that take paint for recycling. This printed list had big print across the top: Where to take paint for recycling. I stopped at the closest paint store (a few blocks away) and the staff was perplexed. This store had NEVER taken paint for recycling, and showed me their own list from Metro, which did not include their location. They sent me to somewhere else, also close by, but that location had no room at the inn for more old paint. DO NOT make the mistake I did. Here is the page where you drop in your zip and find a drop off location. I recommend calling the store before getting in the car to make certain they will take your paint.
6. Green Century located on Macadam. This is a convenient stop for me, so I'm here a lot. They take TVs, computers, and screens, batteries (you have to pay for battery recycling), and all your excess cords. Free Geek is an excellent option for these items, too.
7. Craigslist . Sell your stuff! Make money for more tomatoes.
8. Goodwill - the old standby. After Goodwill all I had left in the car was the damn caulk and hydraulic cement, plus Styrofoam. Does anyone, anywhere recycle Styrofoam?
9. 1-800-Got-Junk. I have not used this service, but have heard only great things. A friend is going to try it out, and I will get feedback from her. Per their website, you book a time, they call you 15 to 30 minutes before arrival, you point to the problem are, and they give you a price for loading and taking your junk away. Check out everything they will pick up. Also according to the site, 61% of what they receive does NOT end up in the landfill. I have Qs (like where and how they dispose of computers), but this sounds like a good solution to all types of junk problems.

As for the Styrofoam, caulk, and hydraulic cement, I have a call into Recology. I'm determined to find a place for these items that doesn't gunk up the landfill. OK, off to roast more tomatoes! And to check Craigslist for freezers.

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