Sunday, October 31, 2010

Two cool eco-friendly stores in Seattle

Goods for the Planet in the South Lake Union neighborhood of Seattle is chock full of green goodness. Their website says "you'll find familiar basics and things you didn't know existed," and it's true. The store's selection and variety is huge.

Kitchen and bath section
Children's section

They have a whole section of recycled-paper office goods, the first time I've seen such a big selection in a home store.

Compostable serviceware as well as Preserve products

Gardening section

THE best soap dispenser ever. The wide bottom means it doesn't topple over and break in your sink, and the ridged neck makes it easy to pick up with two fingers while pushing down on the pump with one other finger. We bought our dispenser in Wyoming, so I'm glad to know it's in Seattle, too. Made from recycled glass, of course.

Hanging from the ceiling

Ty shower curtain, which I hadn't seen before. It's made of #2 plastic, which won't off-gas like vinyl and is widely recyclable.

Sign above the trash: To the landfill. I'll be copying this idea!

NuBe Green is in the Capitol Hill neighborhood, and carries artsier (and pricier) items than Goods for the Planet. Not only is every item made in the U.S., but the material for every item is either U.S.-grown or U.S.-sourced.

GreenStyled bags, made in San Francisco, are made from produce bags with cool labels.

Alchemy Goods' bags are made from recycled vinyl banners, with handles from recycled seatbelts and grips from recycled bicycle tubes. Made in Seattle.

I like the grips

A fun poof ball made from T-shirts

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Alberta Co-op Grocery in Portland boldly goes where others fear to tread

In our germ-phobic, douse-everything-with-antibacterials world, it's nice to see some stores are still willing to allow a container swap. Using antibacterials such as triclosan kills off the harmless germs, leaving the really nasty ones to flourish and open up a can of whoop ass on us, says the New York Times (though not in those exact words).

The Alberta Co-op Grocery is in the Alberta Arts District of Portland. The Ft. Collins Food Co-op in Colorado lets you leave clean containers for others to use, too.

Bulk foods section

An impressive array of bulk spices

Friday, October 29, 2010

EcoTrust Building

Constructed as an industrial warehouse in 1895, the Ecotrust Building (Jean Vollum Natural Capital Center) in the Pearl District is a really awesome renovated LEED gold-certified building, the first restoration of a historic building nationwide to be awarded such a high designation. It's one of those buildings that you could spend hours in, with natural light pouring in from the skylight and big windows. How'd you like this to be your office building!? There's even Laughing Planet Cafe, Hot Lips Pizza and Patagonia off the atrium.

The back of the building. A farmers market is held in the parking lot every Thursday during the summer.

Front entrance. More than 98 percent of the construction waste was recycled or reclaimed. Read all about the materials used in the building here. It's quite extensive.

The public has access to this wonderful space.

I love these cubicles.

Imagine spending your lunch breaks out here in the summer.

I loved the ecoroof! It's the first time I've seen one in person.

A sea of succulents.

Stormwater runoff from the roof and parking lot drains into bioswales.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Delicious eats of Seattle and Portland

We interrupt our regularly scheduled programming to bring you these pictures of yumminess. This post's for you, John J. (Above: Tasty, tasty, tasty ramen from Samurai Noodle.)

Fish sandwich from Paseo Caribbean Restaurant in Seattle
Toulouse Petit in Seattle has a breakfast happy hour, when all breakfast dishes are $6 each. To die for.

Spicy Creole shrimp with eggs and creamy grits

Cured pork cheeks confit hash

El Camion food cart in Seattle

The masa in this pork tamale was so tasty and smooth.

Fish tacos. Delectable.

Bi bim bap from Number 1 Bento Korean food cart in Portland

Khanom jiin kaeng khiaw waan luuk chin plaa from Pok Pok in Portland

Shrimp po boy from Bubba Bernie's food cart in Portland

cappuccino from Stumptown Coffee Roasters

Nong's Khao Man Gai food cart in Portland

Nong's chicken and rice is her sole offering and specialty, and rightly so. All the pleasure centers of my brain lit up while eating this wonderful dish, and the broth you get with the chicken and rice sealed the deal. I was happy for hours afterward.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Drop-off recycling in Portland

We drove down to Portland from Seattle for a couple of days, and while we were there of course I wanted to check out the recycling/composting scene. I heard about Far West Fibers from a friend of a friend, and was really intrigued that they accept plastics that aren't recyclable curbside. So we visited the drop-off site, which is at 12820 Marx St.

It's really great they accept so many types, but then what happens to these plastics? They get baled all together and sent overseas for sorting, which seems to be the usual case with post-consumer non-electronic plastics.

Residents dropping off their recyclables.

Aseptic containers (milk cartons, juice boxes, tofu and broth toxes) also accepted.

As are electronics

and shoes of all types

Next door is Far West Fibers' processing facility

This sign at the drop-off lot ...

led us here:

Examples of what Total Reclaim does and doesn't accept currently, but they'll soon have a machine that can process the #4 (LDPE) and #5 (polypropylene) blocks in addition to the machine they already have, which processes #6 (polystyrene aka Styrofoam) blocks. They also accept #6 cups, plates, trays and clamshells -- they simply sandwich them in with the blocks.

Which leads me to my best discovery: PC Plastics founder and CEO John Gogol. His philosophy toward recycling is the gold standard as far as I'm concerned. He partnered PC Plastics' process and talents with Total Reclaim, which is expanding their Portland facility to accommodate a process that's three times the capacity of the PC Plastics' line that they acquired two years ago. All this was under John's direction. PC Plastics LLC, a new company, markets post-consumer plastics to domestic markets, and John says he's getting more and more inquiries from companies looking for domestic sources of post-consumer plastics for their new products! There may be hope yet. From PC Plastics LLC's website:

Your recycling bin brims with last-week 's newspapers, flattened cardboard, plastic bottles and jars -"recyclables" awaiting pick-up day. But, what about those foam inserts that protected your newly-purchased laptop? Where does the plastic from your old TV go? What to do about those " nonrecyclables ?"

The answers are distilling at a small NW company, committed to recycling and reuse. Portland-based PC Plastics takes those "nonrecyclables" and recycles them into new, high-quality, plastic for TV cabinets, seed trays, planting pots, computer cases, mailboxes and more.


Much of your plastic recycling today goes unaccounted for, ending up in landfills here or overseas. Or it's being burned to create energy, all the while polluting our air. And then there's that foam that's mostly found refuge in your local landfill. PC Plastics puts your waste to work. When we take it on, we guarantee it's going to good use.

You could call it the boomerang effect. You toss us your trash, but, in this case, we'll send it back in better form.

We recycle 50 tons of plastic and foam into 50 tons of new, high-quality plastic every month. That's 600 tons of plastic and foam saved from the landfills and burn piles every year. And our volumes continue to grow.

Please click on these links to learn more. Each page is worth reading.


The recycling process

Products their plastic gets made into

What they accept