I first found the Buyerarchy when perusing the Creative Reuse: Art From Trash face book page (CRAFT). The chart (which is a nod to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs) delineates all the options one has before one makes a purchase, working from the bottom up so that buying is the last option.

I was three-quarters of the way through my most recent “rethink waste” project when I realized I had been following the Buyerarchy of needs without even realizing it! The project was reviving an old dresser from 3 coats of gnarly paint to no coats, all wood. Turns out, I avoided 3 purchases as a result of the Buyerarchy…

First, because I chose to ‘use what I have‘, I didn’t have to buy a new dresser. Refurbishments with furniture tends to be less expensive than buying new. Refurbishment in this degree might also qualify as ‘make‘, as the dresser was “S and S BAR’ed” in the process (Sanded and Stripped Beyond All Recognition). Second, I ‘borrowed‘ a sander to smooth the wood after I stripped the paint. It is unlikely that I would ever use an electric sander often enough to warrant private ownership. And finally, I used ‘thrift‘ store rags to catch the falling paint and floor clean up.

During the restoration process, I realized use of this chart is ever present in my decision making, often unconsciously. Has anyone else surprised themselves with use of the Buyerarchy?

{Thanks to guest blogger/photographer Krystal Collins: CollinsRocksMedia}



matt welding front

Like many Bend locals, we were sad to hear about Pakit Liquidators upcoming closure.

For over 20 years Pakit has been a staple in Bend’s Do-It-Yourself scene, inspiring people to Rethink Waste by turning leftover, discarded, broken or outdated items into art, furniture, gardens, greenhouses, green buildings and more.  It’s an alternative reuse site, over flowing with authenticity, that requires careful walking and the ability to see an items potential over its often neglected state.

Pakit is all about Rethinking Waste, having hosted the annual creative reuse junk art event, Trashformations, for many years – benefitting the now defunct Artists Local 101  and then The Environmental Center’s Learning Garden more recently.

If you attended our recent Repair Cafe at Pakit, you know that the DIY vibe made it the perfect venue for this unique event. Owner Matt Korish not only donated the space, he jumped in for a welding repair when someone brought in a flamingo garden sculpture that needed some tail feathers re-attached. This is what Pakit is all about. Having sparked and melded such innovation, collaboration, and creativity, it’s difficult to imagine loosing this space for future Repair Cafes, art events, music and good old junk picking.

{Thanks to Krystal at}



Stepping into Gear Fix, formally known as Repeat Performance Sports, one might be fooled into thinking the outfit is just an outdoor consignment store. Not so. Bringing a six year dream to fruition, in the past several months, owner Joshua Sims has overhauled the operation to fulfill a market need for gear repair, a viable business that fully manifests the phrase “Rethink Waste”.  The shop, still a “work in progress” Sims cautions, now includes ski, bike, sewing, and sole repair services. (They’ll be providing sewing repairs and bike tunes at the repair cafe – hit them up at the shop for your other repair needs!)

Acquiring Repeat Performance Sports in 2006 after a brief stent as an employee, Sims was driven to operate a business in service to the community. He immediately began consulting the Environmental Center and the Rethink Waste Project. The Repair Cafe is important to Sims because he wants to see a trend where “It’s cool to get things fixed.” He adds, “Fixing stuff starts at the time of purchase, asking the question ‘is this repairable?’”. Sims spread this philosophy at last November’s Repair Cafe. When items couldn’t be fixed he took the time to show people why, so they could make more informed decisions during their future purchases (translation: buy repairable goods!)

Perhaps the most impressive of Sims recent expansions is the cobblers workshop located in the loft space above the consignment floor. Perusing the inventory of worn shoes and intricate machinery of the shop, Sims explains the lost art of shoe repair. The days of apprenticeship long past, he has invested in several local gear enthusiasts paying them to learn to be cobblers. He is on track to be the only high volume climbing shoe re-soler in Oregon, although able to handle nearly all shoe repairs. First the footwear is fitted with a last, a dense wood or plastic surrogate foot which maintains the shape of the shoe. Then the grinder is used to wear down the old sole so the new sole can be fashioned, all the while collecting every scrap and making sure they are properly recycled. 

Sims sees the entire operation as a present day trading post and it seems a fitting analogy especially because the recent expansions were customer driven. I have personally consigned many goods at Gear Fix for which the proceeds funded installation and parts for cycling re-refurbishments and my first pair of chamois bike shorts.  Like many of us in Bend, I work in the service industry and cannot afford new goods for my outdoor hobbies even if I wanted to buy them new. I may have never obtained padded biking shorts if it wasn’t for Sims vision. How many of us can express a similar experience? All built on what would have been discarded goods.

The folks from the Gear Fix will be at our Spring Repair Cafe on April 3 repairing bikes and outdoor gear needing heavy duty sewing. Join us!

Interview and photo by Krystal Collins



Sitting amongst towers of fabric Alison Murphy, owner of Utilitu commands a kind of seamstress royal prowess. When asked what “Rethink Waste” means to her, Murphy says craftsmen like her have no choice but to reuse. She proceeds to explain there can be a discrepancy in value of discarded goods and collecting those goods can be cost effective for a small business owner. Utilizing and sometimes by her own admission hoarding fabric is perhaps the most visual clue in her garage studio that she chooses to “Re-think Waste”.

With early inspiration from family to upcycle, Murphy says she has been re-thinking waste before there was a phrase for it. Her mother would sew her elaborate costumes for school productions of Shakespeare from thrift store eighties dresses. At the age of eight she began finding worn garments and transforming them into backpacks and embroidered bags which she would sell to class mates. As a mother, Alison has already been passing on her Do-it-Yourself and upcycling philosophy to her children designing a beautiful tool belt for her six year old son Sailor.

Choosing to work in an industry that is all about repair gives Alison a sense of community membership that she is excited to share at the upcoming Repair Cafe, April 3rd, at Pakit Liquidators. Fixing a zipper or applying a patch she explains “It’s not just a pair of pants, the interaction will shepherd all these other positive actions”. These community connections and repercussions for her work fuel a deep passion to deliver a quality product.

During the first Repair Cafe last November, Alison says making participants happy made helping out totally worth it. She looks forward to seeing everyone’s projects not knowing what each person will need for their repair, saying, “Being challenged keeps me quick on my feet and a better seamstress”. Please join the Environmental Center and the Rethink Waste Project for the Repair Cafe and you will have a chance to consult Alison Murphy on your sewing needs.

Photo and Interview by Krystal Collins




Yes, I really do still have a flip phone. And yes I’m eligible for a smartphone upgrade – I have been for years. And truthfully, eventually I will. But for now I’m not falling prey to the culture of constant upgrades: of bigger or smaller, newer or better, colorful or cool.  I’m decidedly choosing to walk against the tide on this one for now, and here’s why.

1.) It still works.

Despite how many times I’ve dropped it – in the snow, on the pavement, on the wood floors – it still works. This includes my 15 month old playing with it often (“Hiyaa!”) and (almost) dropping it in the dog’s water bowl. And when it does, no big loss. No phone insurance needed.

2.) I don’t take it to bed.

Unless a family member is sick, or a close friend is in labor, it generally stays on a shelf in the living room for the night. (Oh, that’s also because the old battery needs to charge pretty much nightly.) But that’s how I want to keep it.

3.) I can change the battery.

Ok, so I clearly need to do this (see #2). But at least I can. Try doing that with your iphone. When I do upgrade, I’ll be checking out‘s repairability scorecard to guide my purchase.

4.) It’s cheap.

Any deal I come across still has an extra data plan needed for a smart phone. Except for Republic Wireless, so I may go that route when I do eventually get one. But at least there’s no surprises on my monthly bill as it is now.

5.) Life has enough distractions.

Isn’t it hard enough having an internet access to stay focused on the task at hand? I can’t imagine being notified 24/7 every time I get an email, a like, a comment, a retweet, or some other kind of push notification. As it is now I need to take regular unplug breaks, and I’m not even plugged in all the time.

6.) That free phone isn’t really free. It cost the earth every day.

It’s easy to be blind to this one, but it’s the main reason I don’t want to get caught on the upgrade train. Phones take resources – finite, non-renewable resources – to get made. And yeah, you can recycle your phone, but recycling is not the answer. Check out my new favorite website,, to get up to speed on the impact of manufacturing electronics, recycling them, and then go to to get psyched to repair stuff!





The American Dream is changing – finally. People all across the nation are realizing we don’t to keep up with the Jones’s – who needs all that stress? The new peer to peer sharing economy is making it easier to own less and live more. People are making money from what we own but don’t utilize all the time, renting items that are only needed occasionally, or sharing resources without a profit motive.  If I can rent or borrow a truck, I don’t need to own it. If I can borrow a lawnmower, I don’t need the space to store it.  If I can give away things I don’t need to others who can use them, I free myself up from the responsibility of storing, caring and organizing extraneous stuff in my life to pare down to more essential items for a simplified, decluttered life.

And its beginning to make head way in Central Oregon. It seems like everyone knows someone who rents out a room occasionally through AirBnB to supplement their income. A recent stuff swap, organized by friends on Facebook, encouraged people to declutter their lives and give stuff away to others who may make use of them before donating to local thrift stores. Clothing exchanges have also been happening here for a long time but Facebook makes it easier to quickly round up friends to exchange clothes. Sharing has been around a long time, but new peer to peer online sharing platforms are popping up all over the world, and while most of them are regionally based there are some that work no matter where you live.

Here are a few of my favorite sharing sites: online, old school, local, and international:

  • Repair Cafe – Connecting broken items that need fixing with people who like to fix things for free. Next one is scheduled for Thursday, April 3rd 2014 at Pakit.
  • High Desert Maker Mill – Coming soon, this maker space will be a community hub of all things DIY, with community access to tools for metal work, wood working, electronics and more.
  • yerdle – Post items to give away and get items for free, with a point system so the only money exchanged is paying subsidized shipping through yerdle (unless you live in San Fransisco).
  • SkillShare – Experts share skills through online video tutorials for a fee. Learn what you want, when you want!
  • Neighborgoods – Post items to lend to others in your neighborhood, and post items you are looking for. There are about 25 local folks signed up so the infrastructure is there, but it works best if other locals are signed up, so sign up today!
  • Streetbank– Similar to Neighborgoods but with a clearer layout, this needs locals signed up in order to really work.
  • Gear Commons –  Based out of MA but spreading across the country, this is a peer to peer gear rental platform. This could give locals extra cash for renting outdoor gear to visitors or other locals.


More sharing resources:


Obviously you don’t need online apps for everything sharing related…so what are some ways you like to share?



Just in time for the holiday party season, beginning December 19th we’ll have a new way to recycle cans and bottles for deposit in Bend. The Oregon Beverage Recycling Cooperative (OBRC) is opening a one stop shop – called BottleDrop – to redeem cans and bottles for your deposit. While small outlying neighborhood grocery stores will still accept bottles for return, (they will only accept a maximum of 24) participating retailers (ie: most supermarkets in Bend) will no longer be accepting any bottles or cans for return, instead referring their customers to the centrally located Bottle Drop location (the old Salvation Army, on 2nd Street between Franklin and Greenwood).

The BottleDrop redemption center (open 9am-6pm, 7 days a week) offer 3 different options to redeem your recyclables to fit your needs:

Less Than 50, Hand Count

Bring in your small amount of returnables – less than 50 – and someone will hand count them for you right then and you’ll leave with cash in hand.

Up to 350, Reverse Vending Machines

Bring up to 350 returnables and use the reverse vending machines provided.  These machines are different than the ones you see at grocery stores because you can process any returnable at the same machine – glass, plastic and aluminum. It’s also much faster because it simply whisks the bottles and cans away via a conveyor belt behind the machine to be processed in another part of the building. Redeem for instant cash and the payment station.

EZ Drop

The EZ Drop System is the most intriguing as we haven’t seen a service like this in the area yet. I went to the Town Hall forum recently to hear more about how the system works. Here is what I learned:

  • The EZ Drop System lets you drop off a bag of returnables 24/7 and it credits your account within 48 hours. The first 2 bags are free and after that it’s .15/bag.
  • When you open an account, you receive your BottleDrop card and 2 large green bags with a sticker put on it that corresponds to your card account.
  • Fill the bags up with your returnables (cans and some glass) then drop off up to 2 bags 24 hours a day. A drop-off area will have a small locked door that opens after you scan the bar code on your bag, and closes after it.
  • Your account is credited within 48 hours. Withdraw cash from your account at participating retailers (there will be a BottleDrop kiosk where you scan your card and print a slip, then cash out at the register, similar to getting cash for your bottles now) or at the BottleDrop redemption center’s payment station. Pretty easy.

So start saving your bottles and cans today – those nickel’s add up fast and now its easier than ever to get ’em back!

Head over to BottleDrop for more info!



With the holidays approaching, I find myself looking for unique, upcycled or handmade gifts ideas I can make for others. Handmade gifts are fun to make, can be personalized and thoughtful, and avoid the waste and consumerism most associated with this time of year. These are some of the best sites I found because all the images are on the first page – no clicking through each image – and a majority look like something I could do and would want.

Here are a few of my favorites:


Don’t have the time to make it yourself? Head over to Craft-O at The Workhouse December 14th – 15th to buy hand crafted gifts from local artists.

Check out earlier posts on the blog for ideas on thinking outside the box when it comes to wrapping gifts, and be sure to check out our Top Ten Ways to Rethink Your Holiday to truly get you on the road to greener celebrations.

America Recycles Day

Did you know you can recycle 5 gallon plastic buckets in your household recycling bin in Deschutes County? Or that there are 7 locations you can bring your rechargeable batteries after you’ve charged the life out of them? America Recycles Day is a day to pledge to learn, act and share:

Learn. I will find out what materials are collected for recycling in my community. Deschutes County residents check what’s recycled curbside or use our Find A Recycler tab to discover where to recycle over 50 items.

Act. Reduce my personal waste by recycling. Within the next month, I will recycle more.

Share. In the next month, I will encourage one family member or one friend to take the pledge.

As an incentive to explore our Find A Recycler database, take our quick America Recycles Day quiz to challenge your recycling savvy, and be entered to win a Sara Bella* upcycled tote bag! The quiz will be up through the end of the month. Two winners will be chosen at random from all correct responses on December 2nd.

bike repair close up

Dare To Repair? Repair Cafe Helps People Fix Broken Goods

Ripped backpack? Busted toaster? Wobbly coffee table? Don’t just replace it, repair it!

On November 7th, from 6-9 pm, Pakit Liquidators and The Environmental Center’s Rethink Waste Project is hosting Central Oregon’s first Repair Café  – a free event that brings together people who like to fix things, with people who have stuff that needs fixing. Volunteers will be on hand to repair – and share a skill or two – small appliances, clothing, bikes, knit goods, small furniture, some jewelry, backpacks, and other items needing heavy duty sewing.

“A Repair Café is a fun event that brings people together and engages them with their stuff”, says Denise Rowcroft, Rethink Waste Project Coordinator. “A lot of the goods we buy are so cheap it doesn’t seem worth it to repair, but that just keeps us stuck in a consumptive cycle of buying more stuff – which costs us personally and globally.  Pakit has always been about creative reuse, so having the Repair Café there is a perfect fit. It’s just a fun way to extend the life of your stuff and build community at the same time.”

Attendees are asked to bring broken items and any replacement parts they think might be needed. There is no guarantee all broken items can be repaired that evening – more research may be needed, a part may need to be ordered – but the volunteers will do their best with what they have. Here’s what we have volunteers on hand to repair:

  • Bicycles
  • Clothes and other fabric goods
  • Knit goods
  • Small appliances
  • Backpacks and other outdoor gear (And anything needing a heavy duty sewing repair)
  • Small furniture
  • Jewelry (small repairs or for upcycling)
  • * Please bring a small amount of cash to pay for any replacement parts volunteers provide or purchase for your repair.


There will also be an Unfinished Projects area where people are invited to bring a Do-It-Yourself project they want to work on. Resourceful upcyclers and DIYers will be on hand to lend ideas, tools, skills or just company. This event is free, but food will be available for purchase from the El Sancho food cart. Pakit Liquidators is at 903 SE Armour Rd., near 9th & Wilson.

Download an event poster to print and hang!

Read about Portland’s first Repair Cafe this past summer.