I sent this submission to a Delta Sky Magazine Contest …

It was with some trepidation that I set out to enter this contest, because this is a story of the evolution of my greening. After all how Green can you be to be really green?

Portland Oregon is living breathing green. It is my adopted city. And I have come to love it. Never have I lived in a place where plants grow abundantly in the winter with actual flowers blooming. It was a sight I excitedly wrapped my head around.

I grew up in and around Toronto Canada and honestly still love the surrounding countryside of the rolling Ontario hills but brown slushy big city snow has sell-by-date limited appeal.
So in a leap of faith and a stroke of luck I moved here seven years ago for the greener pastures of love.

Once here it didn’t take long for me to appreciate other green aspects of my new home. Not counting the year-round vegetation or the 100 foot plus Douglas Firs in our back yard, Portland is well respected for its efforts at promoting conscientious sustainable living. Portland, I soon learned, was green before it was hip.

Our “territorial view” home, a treed lot in realtor speak, backs onto a network encompassing forty miles of trails mostly wooded that wends its way through the greater metropolitan area. A city with forty miles of trails! Unheard of, right?

I realized this afternoon as I walked my dog in the brilliant shimmering chartreuse woods overflowing with springtime foliage and trillium villages that I must live in one of the greenest cities in the United States.

This thought came of course in between the short hailstorm followed by the dappled sunshine and rounded out by an ominous grey cloud cover. It is spring in the Pacific Northwest and one quickly learns you must dress in layers here for three quarters of the year if you wish to be comfortable outside. I froze my first year here until I assimilated that valuable lesson.

The first time I saw one of the Tri Met buses outfitted with bicycle carriers on the front I thought, “How cool is that?” What a perfect solution for those particularly rainy winter days. Then I discovered Compost bins are given out for free to anyone who would like one. Hazardous waste drop off centers rove through the city during the summer months, making removal so easy it would be a crime not to do it.
Green living seminars are offered on a regular basis. In fact I just received my free Portland’s Smart Trips Resources and Rewards reusable bag put out by the City of Portland’s Office of Transportation.

It’s an incentive program to remind people “There is more than one way to get there.” It was delivered to our door by bike riding “greenies”. Inside the bag are trail maps for biking and hiking,a pedometer,a reflective strap to fit an arm or a leg, two separate indoor and outdoor water conservation kits, and an umbrella. The last item a most fortuitous addition since I literally threw out a broken one earlier today.

Recycling wasn’t unfamiliar to me having done my share of paper recycling back in Toronto. However the encouragement to recycle different types of plastics and cartons was indeed a novelty. I understand in the years I have been gone, Toronto has improved dramatically having implemented a program that now collects composting and food scraps. Portland, I have read is in the process of introducing a similar program in the next year.

Composting food scraps isn’t entirely new having grown up on a farm but I had avoided it in Toronto because of the problem of marauding raccoons in a high-density urban environment. But here in Portland I was eager to become one of the converted. We recently moved our full compost bin away from our back door. Digging up the remaining earth I was delighted to discover mixed in with the corn cobs, egg shells, and other vegetable detritus, hundreds, if not thousands of tiny earthworms wriggling their way away from my spade. It works! I was so excited to see them.

We are fortunate enough to live within walking distance of a year round farmers market. Each Sunday through the summer and every other through the winter my yellow Labrador Retriever, Jera, and I walk the two miles to the market to shop. My husband will drive over to meet us and ferry our booty back home again. We enjoy seasonal fresh fruits and vegetables,meats,cheeses and seafood sold by the actual producers that recognize me each week. Some of who I am lucky enough to be on a first name basis. My favorite vendors I made jam for at Christmas using the fruit I purchased at the market.
The chicken farmer actually keeps track of his carbon footprint required to bring his goods to the market. It’s less than 30 miles so when all is said and done they aren’t doing too badly considering the chicken factory farms of the Midwest or Southern USA.

Before moving here I thought I knew what fresh food was all about but little did I recognize the benefit of purchasing your food from someone who actually grew it. Or better yet paying attention to how far food had to travel to get to my home. I admit I still buy bananas from Ecuador and the occasional pineapple from Hawaii but more and more I find myself checking labels and turning away things that have come from a great distance. I see it as a necessity in my own small way of doing my part to decrease my carbon footprint.

I’ve even begun recycling words with my crossword puzzles and writing.

I feel like I might sound like a commercial for Portland but moving here has shaped my life a great deal for the better when it comes to the infamous reduce reuse recycle maxim so popular these days.

For me Oregon is a state of mind.