Portland: The Evergreen City

Portland, Oregon, has more LEED-certified buildings than any other American city, the parking meters are solar-powered, and many residents proudly eat locally whenever they can. It made sense, then, that lawyer Aysia Wright, a 34-year-old tree hugger, decided to open a sustainable fashion boutique here, in the neighborhood of Sellwood.

Almost four years later, Greenloop and its online counterpart is thriving -- and so is she. "It's easier to 'live green' here than anywhere else," says Wright, who has also called Arizona, California, Virginia, and New York home. Here, she reveals her favorite green spots in Portland.

Where to Stay
Ace Hotel
The owners of the Ace Hotel salvaged claw-footed tubs, sinks, and wooden planks from an existing 1912 flophouse before renovating it into this hipster outpost. Local artists made each room unique, and guests can borrow bikes to explore the 272 miles of bike trails around town. Even the lobby coffee shop, Stumptown Coffee Roasters, and the neighboring restaurant, Clyde Common, are committed to sustainability.

Hotel Monaco
Aside from the in-room recycling bins and organic minibar snacks, most of the earth-friendly initiatives at the Hotel Monaco (503-222-0001) take place behind the scenes. The staff uses nontoxic cleaning products and energy-efficient lightbulbs. The hotel also recycles all paper, glass, cans, and cardboard, and conserves water with low-flow toilets and faucets.

Where to Eat
Eleni's Estiatorio
At Eleni's Estiatorio (503-230-2165), a candlelit Greek bistro down the street from Wright's shop, vegetables are seasonal and organic, and all the meat is hormone-free. Her must-haves: the saganaki (cheese pan-fried in olive oil and served in flaming Cognac) and the mixed wild greens topped with red onions, olives, and baked kessari cheese (a sharp, salty Greek favorite).

Special occasions find Wright indulging on roasted chicken with morel mushrooms and asparagus at Wildwood (503-248-9663), an upscale restaurant with a casual, Northwest feel. Chef Dustin Clark changes the menu weekly but always spotlights ingredients and wine from local farmers and vintners.

Things to Do
Portland is famous for its gardens, particularly the International Rose Test Garden and the Japanese Garden. Wright's favorite, though, is the little-known Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden (503-771-8386). This lush, seven-acre landscaped park contains a spring-fed lake, three waterfalls, and more than 2,500 rhododendrons, azaleas, and companion plants.

Wright tends to do yoga at home, but she always jumps at the chance to drop in for a power Vinyasa class at Yoga Pearl (503-525-9642). There's also an on-site holistic wellness center complete with massage therapists, acupuncturists, and a naturopathic doctor, as well as an all-organic vegan bistro.

Keen on supporting area artists and designers, Wright loves to browse the shelves at Tilde (503-234-9600), a colorful home boutique in Sellwood. Many of the items come from reclaimed materials such as vintage car upholstery (Kim White's handbags) and recycled wenge wood (Modica Design's earrings and necklaces).

Antiquing has regained cachet, as people try to make less waste by using what's already out there. Portland has plenty of shops to outfit every home. Wright's go-to spot is Stars (503-235-5990), which sells everything from retro fashion to Danish modern candleholders in its three Westmoreland locations.

When she wants something good to read, Wright avoids big-box retailers and instead walks to the Looking Glass (503-227-4760), an independent bookstore partly located in an old red caboose. Owner Karin Anna sells an eclectic mix of environmental, political, and poetry books, and encourages bibliophiles to linger over their finds in a Zen-like courtyard that's landscaped with native plants and tiered pools.

Text by Hannah Wallace

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