Northwest Portland Hostel

Centrally Located – in the Heart of Portland

Northwest Portland Hostel Blog

The Importance of Using Green Cleaning Products in your Home (or in our case, Hostel)

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Over the years our views on household cleaning products have changed. It used to be accepted that cleaners using toxic ingredients and harsh chemicals were the only way to get grime off of toilets, kitchen counters, and floors. These were also the only things that could clean your laundry and wash your dishes to give them that shiny and fresh clean scent. After all, there were no other options. Natural cleaning products just didn’t quite seem to do the trick and tended to leave you home with a less than fresh smell. However, with new reports from the EPA and National Geographic, many are beginning to realize that this however, is not the case. Over the past several years there has been a dramatic rise in number of people looking towards natural oils and substances such as citrus oil, vinegar, beeswax, cleaning salt, coconut oil, baking soda, lavender and rosemary to remove grime and bacteria from their home. Companies such as Mrs. Meyers, Dr. Bronner’s, Method, Eco Nuts, Molly’s Suds, Laundress, Eco-Me, and many others are using these natural substances to create effortless cleaning products that don’t require time and effort to make yourself (and clean equally as well as those traditional cleaners. Many of these products are not only better for your health and safe to use around kids and pets, but they’re also environmentally friendly. Below are 6 reasons why people have begun to make the switch, including us here at Northwest Portland Hostel & Guesthouse.


The Reasons

1. Chemicals May be Unregulated
Many cleaning products include chemicals that emit fumes that are not safe for humans and animals. Since the mid 20th century, 85,000 new chemicals have entered the market through various products, many of which after not being approved by the EPA. This number is a bit concerning and there’s more. More than 70 percent of traditional cleaning products used in homes contain these harmful chemicals.

2. Phthalates, Sodium Hydroxide & Ammonia
Have you ever checked the labels of cleaning products under your sink? Oftentimes a label will warn that a product can be harmful to people or pets, which is a major reason to not have the product in your home. Some potentially harmful chemicals you want to watch out for when researching cleaning products include phtalates (in fragranced products), triclosan (in liquid dishwashing detergent), 2-Butoxyethanol (in multi-purpose cleaners) and even chlorine (in laundry whiteners and toilet bowl cleaners).

3. Keep Kids Safe(r)
We can’t protect our kids from all the evil in the world, but we can limit their access to harmful chemicals. Using natural cleaning products will reduce the chance of an accidental poisoning. In fact, it’s shown that household cleaning products rank within the top 5 causes of childhood poisoning cases. So in addition to switching over to green cleaning products, be sure to keep the products stored in child-safe cabinets.

4. You May Be Poisoning the Water Supply
Various household cleaning agents can contain toxic chemicals like ammonia, phosphorus, alkyphenol ethoxylates and petroleum. So when you wash your clothes, do the dishes and even flush toilet bowl cleaner you may be sending these chemicals back into the water system and nearby rivers, lakes and streams. This could make its way back into your water, but it can also have a negative impact on wildlife and the environment.

5. Breathe Deep. Breathe Clean.
While they help make your clothes and rooms smell better, some fabric softeners and antibacterial spray cleaners contain quaternary ammonium compounds (a.k.a. quats), like benzalkonium chloride. These agents have been known to contribute to otherwise healthy people getting asthma. In fact, according to the Environmental Working Group’s Guide to Healthy Cleaning, about 53 percent of cleaning products they tested contain ingredients that can harm the lungs while 22 percent can cause asthma.

6. Green Products Help Keep the Air Greener
Many household products, especially sprays and aerosols, can contain volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that can have short- and long-term health effects associated with your central nervous system, liver and kidneys. When you use a spray, the chemicals can linger in the air long after the initial mist dissipates.






When choosing green cleaning products for your facility, we recommend that you choose the products that meet the standards of the following organizations: and
You can also check out for additional information on certification organizations, product lines and criteria for environmentally safe products, services and practices.
So before you travel, do some research! Is the hotel or hostel you’re staying at use safe and environmentally friendly cleaners to clean the space that you will be staying in?

Abe’s Market: 6 Reasons to Use Green Cleaning Products in Your Home
The Daily Green: What Toxic Chemicals Lurk in Your Household Products?
Experience Life: 8 Hidden Toxins: What’s Lurking in Your Cleaning Products?
National Geographic’s Green Living: How Does Household Cleaner Affect the Environment?
EWG: Guide to Healthy Cleaning
ABC News: Household Cleaning Products Still Pose Risk to Kids
EPA: Introduction to Indoor Air Quality

World Naked Bike Ride – Portland, Saturday June 27th

Thursday, June 25, 2015

indecentexposureWorld Naked Bike Ride is coming up this weekend! This event takes place in cities around the world, and highlights the vulnerability of cyclists both to motor vehicle collisions, and to air pollution caused by our dependence on fossil fuel-driven transportation.


The Portland ride will meet at Colonel Summers Park at SE Belmont & 20th Ave. The dress code for the ride is “as bare as you dare”, and no one will be turned away based on clothing level. Many riders decorate themselves with body paint and their bikes with decorations of all kinds – balloons, cheeky signs, you name it! The ride leaves around 9 pm once all the riders are ready.


See the Portland WNBR website (linked below) for lots more information, and have fun!

PDX World Naked Bike Ride

History of Memorial Day

Monday, May 25, 2015


The first public occurence of a Memorial Day-like observance occured in Charleston, SC on May 1, 1865. At least 257 Union soldiers had died in a Confederate prison camp and were unceremoniously thrown into a mass grave. A group of former slaves along with teachers, missionaries, and other Charleston residents took it upon themselves to dig up the mass grave and give the Union soldiers a proper burial in gratitude for fighting for their freedom. Nearly 10,000 people, including freedmen, Union troops, and black schoolchildren held a march to commemorate the fallen soldiers.northern missionaries. Most brought flowers to lay on the burial field.

By 1868 the holiday was known as Decoration Day, and was a day to place flowers on the graves of Union and Confederate soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery. The title Memorial Day did not come about until 1971, when the day became a federal holiday that is observed on the last Monday in May.

The Portland Rose Festival is a great place to spend the afternoon reflecting on the history of this holiday, and they are giving free admission to Veterans, Reservists, and active military members with a military ID, plus one free guest. A moment of remembrance will be observed at 3 pm, and the festival runs until about 10 pm every night. Located in Tom McCall Waterfront Park.

Portland’s DIY culture, and Gathering of the Guilds

Monday, April 20, 2015


_DSC0045_1-01This upcoming weekend, April 24th-26th, marks the 5th annual Gathering of the Guilds, held at the Oregon Convention Center. Over 150 local artisans from groups including the Creative Metal Arts Guild, Oregon Glass Guild, Guild of Oregon Woodworkers, Portland Bead Society, and Portland Handweavers Guild will be displaying beautiful, hand-made items for sale at this free event.


While you may have seen the tongue-in-cheek “We Can Pickle That” sketch on Portlandia, it’s not that far from reality. There is a strong DIY ethic amongst many Portlanders – as you visit the city, take note of its multitude of community gardens, microbreweries, and shops selling local and handmade clothing, food, and just about anything else you can think of! This is a great place to shop locally, especially if you are a visitor in search of those great one-of-a-kind gifts for friends and family, or just a unique souvenir for yourself. Try some kombucha while you’re here, whether it’s Brew Dr. (sold at our front desk!), Lion Heart, Herbucha, or one of the many other brewers in town.

And if you are looking for something to do this weekend, check out the Gathering of the Guilds for a peek at some locally-made crafts. Admission is free!

2015 Gathering of the Guilds schedule:

  • Friday April 24th, 10 a.m. – 7 p.m.
  • Saturday April 25th, 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.
  • Sunday April 26th, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Oregon Convention Center, Exhibit Hall A – 777 NE Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd, Portland OR


Portland Hostels support Earth Hour!

Monday, March 23, 2015

What are you doing when the lights go out this Saturday for Earth Hour!?

We hope you’ll head to a HI Hostel! Because this year we are happy to announce that both Portland hostels are running Earth Hour events!

As I mentioned in a previous post, HI – Northwest Portland Hostel is hosting our annual blindfolded food and beer tasting event in the Elliston Kitchen at 8 pm. Followed by a brew pub crawl to some of the best microbreweries that Portland has to offer.

The Hawthorne Hostel will also be participating in this world wide event by hosting a game night by sparkle light at 8:30 pm! Hostel guests and neighbors are welcome to attend the event. The game will be the exciting firework-themed game of Hanabi!

If you’ve never heard of Hanabi before – the idea of the game is for each player to play a series of cards in a specific order in the hopes of setting off a simulated fireworks show! Sounds like a lot of fun!!

Plus, did I mention that light refreshments will be provided at both hostels! We know we’ll see you there!

World Water Day is March 22nd

Saturday, March 21, 2015

World Water Day is tomorrow, March 22nd! 

As citizens of the world it is paramount that we conserve the earth’s resources and be respectful of our footprint on the earth – especially when traveling. 

In honor of World Water Day, here’s a few simple ways that you can save water while you’re traveling:

  • Re-use dishes and soak, don’t scrub: many plates and dishes don’t need a full wash to be re-used, and scrubbing hard-to-clean dishes under running water is a waste – so soak them straight after use for an easy and waste-free clean up
  • Switch taps off: brushing your teeth? Turn the tap off whilst you’re scrubbing
  • Save by sharing a load whilst washing clothes: if you need to use the washing machines, make sure you have a full load. If you’ve just got a few things to wash, buddy up to share the load
  • Reduce your average shower time: the average shower time is 8 minutes. Reduce your shower time to 5 minutes and save 23 litres of water. Sharing a shower is also a good move!

For more about World Water Day check out HI USA’s blog.

Celebrate Earth Hour With Us!

Tuesday, March 17, 2015


Earth Hour is a global event created by the World Wildlife Fund to raise awareness about energy consumption and global warming. Each year, citizens and communities around the world participate in Earth Hour by turning off all non-essential lights and electronics at 8:30pm. 

The hostel will be hosting a special event in continuation of the darkness theme of the evening. Come by and intermingle with world travelers, enjoy refreshments, and put your tastebuds to the test with our blindfolded food and beer tasting challenge. We bet you can’t recognize 8 out of 10 common food items correctly!
The event is free. The impact on the environment is priceless! 

Join us! HI-Portland, Northwest Hostel
Saturday, March 28th at 8:00 – 10:00 pm

And the best hostel is…

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Forget about the Oscars! Hostelling International just announced the winner of its HI-5IVE awards for the most comfortable hostel, friendliest hostel, green hostel, best hostel and the best National Association of hostels.

U.S. hostels snagged some of the top spots in all categories, but it is HI Martha’s Vineyard that took home the gold, winning Most Friendliest Hostel last year.

Below is a picture of HI-USA CEO Russ Hedge excepting the award on behalf of HI Martha’s Vineyard.

Russ Hedge final
Congratulations to all the winners!






Five Dreamy Date Ideas for Valentine’s Day in Portland

Monday, February 9, 2015

We’ll help you set the mood this Valentine’s Day with our five dreamy date ideas.

1. Treat your sweet to some sweets at Papa Haydn – More Info

Papa Haydn is a fixture of NW 23rd avenue and THE spot to go to when you’re craving something sweet. The dessert case at this place is incredible with over 30 indulgent pies, cakes, ice creams, and tarts to try. You’re biggest problem will be which one to choose!


2. Take a picnic to the Pittock Mansion – More Info

The Pittock Mansion was the dream home of Oregon pioneers Henry and Georgiana Pittock from 1914 – 1919. It was purchased by the City of Portland in 1964 after the eldest Pittock grandson put it on the market. Today, it is has been fully and lovingly restored and is open to the public to tour. Admission to the mansion will cost you $10, however it is free to enjoy the grounds and their view of Mt. Hood in the distance. We recommend stopping by Zupan’s market on the way and having a picnic on the back lawn with your loved ones.


3. Let the good times roll with a tour of Portland’s Distillery Row – More Info

We all know that Portland is a beer lovers paradise – but what if your loved one doesn’t like beer!? Not a problem! Portland is currently experiencing a craft distillation revolution. There are seven independent distilleries operating in the Lower Southeast Industrial District – dubbed Distillery Row – and each one is open on the weekends for drop in distillery tours and tastings. You can even book a package with PDX Pedicab and leave your car at home.


4. Hold Hands at the Baghdad Movie Theater – More Info

When you sit your date down at the Baghdad Theater she’ll think she’s about to see an opera or a ballet by Tchaikovsky. The theater is so luxe, so grand, that she’ll never guess that you only paid $9 for that ticket in your coat pocket. Way to go, you! 


5. Let your romance blossom with a trip to the Japanese Garden – More Info

The Japanese Garden is located just a short walk away from the hostel in Washington Park. It is composed of five sub-gardens that each represent a different type of traditional Japanese gardening. No matter what time of year you visit the gardens, you will see breathtaking flora. It’s the perfect place to inspire the poet in all of us.


HI NW Portland Hostel teams up with Portland Parks and Rec

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

On Martin Luther King Jr. Day our hostel teamed up with Portland Parks and Recreation to pull ivy in Forest Park.

Ivy is an invasive species in the Pacific Northwest and is illegal to sell, buy, or plant here. According to Oregon State University, it does its damage “by completely engulfing shrubs and by encircling tree trunks of all sizes, leaving nothing uncovered. Shrubs shrouded in ivy may eventually die because light can’t reach their leaves. The sheer weight of the extra vegetation also weakens the plant it grows on, making it more susceptible to disease and blowdown. Trees usually survive ivy invasion, even though weakened by retaining a “broccoli head” of foliage at the very top.” (more here)

Most of Forest Park’s 5,000 acres is covered in ivy. The city has been fighting to remove it since 1992 with the help of Portland Parks and Recreation and the work of many, many volunteers. Our team decided to join in the effort to honor MLK this year.

On January 17th we met with Mary Verrilli of Portland Parks and Recreation at Lower Macleay Park. Mary started us out with a short lesson on the history of ivy in the Pacific Northwest and the importance of removing it from our parks. Then we hiked for a mile to the Holman trail entrance of Forest Park where we spent four hours picking, pulling, cutting, and grunting.

The process of removing ivy is a very very muddy one, but it is also very satisfying. It was a great feeling to look back over the area and see it was ivy free. We saved you trees and ferns! And we can’t wait to help out again!

Here’s some pictures from the day:


This is The Beast. A piece of ivy that was cut out of Forest Park! You can see why it is such a problem.


Mary of Portland Parks and Rec is giving us our first lesson on how to pick ivy


It’s every man for himself. Look out ivy, we’re coming for you!