Portland, Oregon is such a wonderful and eco-friendly city! | Gallery Drinkware

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Portland, Oregon is such a beautifully eco-minded city!

Portland, Oregon Old Town sign

I'm sure it comes as no surprise to hear that Portland is an eco-friendly city-- it's known nationwide as such. But as newcomers to Portland, we were wowed by how being mindful of the environment just permeates the way-of-life here. It's really inspiring and something we wish we could say about more of our American cities. 

The first thing we did as Portland visitors was spend some time wandering through Portland's Ankeny Square weekend farmer's market. We were just amazed by how many of the artisan booths were dedicated to crafts made from re-purposed materials! We've never seen a farmer's market quite like this, with so many of the artists focused on re-using everyday objects to create something new and beautiful. Below is a selection of our favorites and just a small cross-section of what we saw in terms of re-purposed materials transformed into art.

A gourd painted and decorated with marbles, made into a hanging light fixture:

Portland farmer's market marbled gourd light fixture

Bird houses made from all sorts of various "junk" that would otherwise be discarded. How cute and playful are these?

Portland farmer's market bird houses

"Curiosity Cabinets"-- made by a husband and wife team, who take old fence and old bench wood, along with various other re-purposed materials, to make these whimsical and eye-catching cabinets that can hold just about anything you may want to store or display!

Portland farmer's market

Do you notice that there's a little friend peeking out of the star "window" on the right side of this cabinet below?

Portland farmer's market

A little owl! So cute for a child to discover. (And note that the backing of this particular cabinet is a piece taken from an old metal shed roof. Incredibly inventive).

Portland farmer's market

It was hard to pull ourselves away from this really special farmer's market, but of course we also wanted to see the Portland sights. We strolled over to the Willamette River, just a hop, skip, and a jump from the farmer's market, and gazed out across the water, maple bacon elephant ear in hand:

Portland, Oregon Willamette River

We learned that the Willamette was once one of the most polluted rivers in the US, essentially a factory chemical dumping ground (which has been a sad truth in the history of many of our nation's rivers), and although it's much cleaner today, it's definitely not a river in which you would choose to swim or fish.

We strolled through the Skidmore-Old Town Historic District, which we loved. 

Portland, Oregon Skidmore-Old Town Historic District

We noted how walkable and bike-able Portland is, and what a great public transport system this city offers, with the MAX train tracks present on seemingly almost every street. We stopped at Voodoo Doughnuts for a treat, since we've learned Voodoo is a Portland must-try. It was yummy, for sure, but actually not quite as good as the "other" Portland doughnut spot that numerous locals said was better, Blue Star Doughnut. Kenny became obsessed with Stumptown Coffee, Portland's most beloved coffee (and named after one of Portland's nicknames, "Stumptown," given because of the vast amount of trees that were reduced to stumps in order to build this city).

Portland, Oregon Voodoo Doughnut sign

Here was breakfast our first day, including Voodoo's most popular doughnut, the Voodoo Doll Doughnut, with chocolate frosting and a raspberry jelly center (note the pretzel stick, which is the pin that is stuck in the voodoo doll). Definitely a tasty doughnut and felt like a safer bet than some of their weirder confections, like a Tang or Cap'n Crunch-covered doughnut.

Voodoo Doughnut and Stumptown Coffee

We try to avoid any single-use options in our everyday life, but when on vacation at times it's hard to avoid. We were very impressed that at Stumptown Coffee, instead of disposable stir sticks, they offered washable, reusable metal spoons to stir the coffee, helping us to minimize our waste. Way to give us greener choices, Portland!

Stumptown Coffee

There were several other environmentally-conscious aspects of Portland that we were impressed by, such as wind turbines being used as an alternative energy sources on buildings:

Portland, Oregon wind turbines

Multi-tiered waste receptacles that clearly marked the different places to dispose of trash/recyclables:

Portland, Oregon waste and recycle receptacle

Reusable water bottle filling stations, which are commonplace in Portland. We were quite thankful for these, considering the fact that we took our reusable water bottles all over town on our many walks:

Portland, Oregon water bottle refill station

And of course we couldn't miss out on spending some quality time in Portland's renown Powell's Books. We could have strolled through the aisles for hours-- it's truly a book-lover's dream.

Portland, Oregon's Powell's Books

We also immensely enjoyed the incredibly gorgeous Japanese Garden and Rose Garden, to which it was easy to take public transportation (a few stops on the MAX train and a shuttle bus ride later, we arrived in a garden oasis!). Here is a sampling of the amazing natural beauty we saw at the Japanese Garden:

Portland, Oregon Japanese Garden

Portland, Oregon Japanese Garden

Portland, Oregon Japanese Garden

And the oh-so-fragrant Rose Garden (Portland is supposedly the perfect climate for growing roses, hence its other nickname, "City of Roses"):

Portland, Oregon Rose Garden

All in all, we thought Portland was a truly awesome town: eco-friendly, culturally diverse, vibrant, and a haven for foodies! We learned how high the bar is set for restaurants in Portland-- it is quite the culinary center. We can't wait to come back because there is a lot more to explore in this great city and its outskirts. But until then, we will remember this beautifully-apt proverb that we spotted at the Japanese Garden, which applies to life on multiple levels:

Portland, Oregon Japanese Garden proverb



Aug 08, 2015 • Posted by Vicki H

Good to hear how much the city has changed!! My brother went there for work 25 years ago and said it was really dirty.
It’s great to see a community come together and make such great changes!

Aug 08, 2015 • Posted by Sherry Carter

Looks so lovely and its awesome all that they do!

Aug 08, 2015 • Posted by Connie

Portland is a wonderful city and Oregon is such a beautiful state! I miss it.

Aug 01, 2015 • Posted by Orla

Sounds great! We need more of those Reusable water bottle filling stations.

Aug 01, 2015 • Posted by Linda gonzales

I’m dying to go to Oregon! I can’t believe there’s a voodoo donut here as well. They’re popping up all over. Beautiful pictures.

Aug 01, 2015 • Posted by Sheila Hansen

Such a beautiful city and I’m glad to hear they’re so eco-friendly! I’ve always wanted to try a Voodoo Doughnut and Stumptown Coffee sounds yummy. The Rose Gardens look lovely and I could get lost in Powells Books! Thank you for sharing your interesting photos and spotlighting such a vibrant destination! Can’t wait to visit Portland Oregon!

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