Time to freshen things up, Portland.

Overheard from a pandemic-weary friend the other day: “Well, we finished Netflix.” 

Presumably, they’ve also baked all the bread, planted all the gardens, and attended all the sad Zoom happy hours. What’s left but the symbolic spring cleaning, just in time for Earth Day, which helpfully falls this year on the very week that all Oregonians ages 16 and up became eligible for their COVID-19 vaccine? 

That’s reason enough to open the windows, sweep out the cobwebs, and get rid of all the clutter you’ve been meaning to deal with throughout this last year of quarantine. Think of it as one big step towards the post-pandemic era that’s on the horizon. 

But spring cleaning doesn't mean just toss everything you no longer want or need out into the trash. Here’s what to do instead: 

SELL

Let’s be honest, after this year of elastic waistbands, we’ve all got some clothes that no longer fit (or others that are threadbare from constant use). Sort out the ones in the best shape and take them to one of Portland’s many fantastic consignment stores. We love Simple&Just in NW Portland, Gather Resale in N Portland, Sellwood Union in SE Portland, and Sugar Mountain Vintage in NE Portland. (Plus, keep an eye out for two coming soon entrants in this category: Raylee Consignment, coming soon to SE Division and Vein of Gold, which took over Button’s old space in North Portland.) Bonus: Most of these picks go beyond just clothing to shoes, jewelry—even sometimes home décor, though you do need to be prepared for your ego to take a beating if your carefully curated pieces aren’t deemed consignment-worthy. 

If you’ve got outgrown clothes and other gear for kids, hit one of the giant pop-up consignment sales that are returning after a yearlong hiatus, including the Pass It On sale this weekend in Hillsboro. You can clear out their closets (and your kitchen cabinets, and the outgrown sports gear and their playrooms) in one fell swoop. 

If you’d rather not give a cut to a middleman and you’re cool with strangers coming to your door, you can try selling on Facebook Marketplace, CraigsList, NextDoor, or similar. (Truly high-end stuff can go to fancy-schmancy sites like TheRealReal.) Or, go old school with a yard sale— a lot of up-front work, yes, but spring is prime yard sale season. For best results, team up with neighbors and advertise widely. 

DONATE

There are many worth nonprofits in Portland that accept donations, though check with them beforehand to understand both Covid-era donation protocols and what they are looking for right now. A few to note: Dress for Success Oregon, which collects clothes for women returning to the workforce and Community Warehouse, which collects almost all home goods, from furniture to appliances, dishes to towels, and works with social service agencies to get them to families and households in need. We also love the neat-o Portland Kitchen Share for that ice cream maker gathering dust, or the various tool libraries around town for the woodworking tools and similar you bought when you thought you’d take up a new hobby; outgrown bicycles can go to the Community Cycle Center, which will get them into the hands of those who need and cannot afford them. 

You can also go online and find a local Buy Nothing group via social media. You can consider putting items out on your property with a “free” sign attached to them, of course, but be prepared to pull them back in after a few hours if you don’t get any takers (and don't attempt this move in rain). Or tap into Portland’s growing mutual aid network—there’s a bloc that will accept just about anything and put it to good use. 

RECYCLE 

We have a few favorites in this category—Free Geek for computers, Scrap for art supplies, but the definitive database is maintained by the folks over at Metro, who know what to do with your old mattresses, batteries, string lights, burlap bags and more. Head over there for whatever you’ve got left to figure out its fate. 

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