What does a Portland millennial have in common with a Hillsboro dad?
Both are making choices to spend less and share more. As a result, both are throwing less away.
And they are not alone. The concept of living lighter—whether to save money or natural resources—is an idea that continues to grow.
“It’s not really about making this big lifestyle change or becoming a zero-waster who only creates one can of garbage in 16 months,” says Kim Waxler, recycling specialist at Metro. According to Waxler, little shifts in behavior can result in broader impacts on what people buy or don’t.
Swapping instead of shopping
Amy Phung doesn’t do much clothing shopping anymore. She gets to scratch her fashion itch for free at clothing swaps. And she says she loves passing along to others what she no longer wears.
Borrowing instead of buying
Ethan Corbin has a daughter who’s crazy about science. Checking items out from Hillsboro’s Library of Things lets her explore her interests—like electronics, programming and robotics—at no cost.
“And rather than buying something and keeping it in the garage,” Corbin says, “I can come here and get something that we share with the rest of the community.”
“I think of a lot of these ‘things’ as creating better informed consumers,” says Bendan Lax, the Hillsboro librarian who helped start the Library of Things.
Repairing instead of replacing
At a repair café held at the Gresham Regional Library, Lorraine Lynn and her mom Jeanne Johnson hope to fix an inherited lamp that’s a family favorite. And they agree that their decisions as consumers matter. They also wish that throw-away, short-lived products weren’t quite so ubiquitous.
“There are some really simple ways of looking at how we function as consumers in America,” Waxler says. “Obviously, further upstream beyond the consumer is the manufacturer,” she adds.
According to Waxler, it’s up to manufacturers to stop producing items and packaging that quickly end up in the garbage.
“But as consumers we can still make better choices,” Waxler says.