In 2001, the Oregon Legislature established statewide waste generation goals that aim for zero increases in per capita waste generation after 2005, and in total waste generation after 2009.
As a result, in 2006, Portland City Council adopted a waste prevention goal to reduce per capita waste generation below 2005 levels by 2015. And in 2007, City Council voted to approve the Portland Recycles! Plan, effectively mandating the City to work with the community to help stop growth in the waste stream.
The Portland / Multnomah County Climate Action Plan, approved by City Council in 2009, further reinforces these waste reduction goals through the following 2030 Objectives:
- Reduce total solid waste generated by 25 percent.
- Motivate all Multnomah County residents and businesses to change their behavior in ways that reduce carbon emissions.
EPA carbon emissions calculations show that the production and use of materials for consumers account for one-third of global carbon emissions. Production and transportation of goods and food also require the extraction of natural resources, creating additional health and environmental problems.
The Portland Recycles! Plan states that promoting behavior change and education is a key strategy for meeting citywide waste reduction and recycling goals. As part of the development of the waste reduction program, the Bureau of Planning and Sustainability conducted research in 2009 and 2012 to uncover barriers to long-term behavior change. The research demonstrated that many Portlanders understand the importance of taking actions to reduce their waste and stated that they wanted to participate in these activities, however, a large percentage of people did not know where to go or how to do it.
The Be Resourceful Program
The Be Resourceful program was developed to give Portlanders tools and ideas for reducing waste, specifically, how to take action and where to find resources, while encouraging residents to try simple changes in how they get what they need. The program:
- Connects residents with resources -- including community-based organizations, local businesses, government agencies, and each other -- to help them be successful in reducing waste.
- Offers resources specific to times of life transition that are often periods of greater waste, thus presenting more opportunities to take advantage of relevant community resources.
Community members are also invited to provide information about local resources including classes and workshops to learn new skills.
The program focuses on four main categories:
- Buy Smart: Plan ahead, check to see what you already have and make a list. Choose durable alternatives to disposable items. Consider gifts of experience instead of stuff.
- Reuse: Buy second hand, salvage and vintage. Repurpose something you already have to save money and avoid waste.
- Borrow and Share: Cut down on clutter by borrowing, sharing, swapping or renting items.
- Fix and Maintain: Extend the life of what you have with basic maintenance. When something breaks, repair it instead of replacing it.
These activities were identified as effective ways residents can get the things they need while saving money, avoiding waste, cutting clutter -- while simultaneously conserving natural resources and reducing carbon emissions.