What You Can Do | Sustainability


  • Separate your recyclables. Glass and cardboard are recycled differently!
  • Keep your cans and bottles for return. They get recycled and you get your bottle deposit back.
  • Metro Regional Government's Recycling Hotline: 503-234-3000
  • Earth 911 provides recycling information by zip code
  • EPA’s Reduce, Reuse and Recycle program provides basic information on the three R's
  • National Recycling Coalition is a non-profit advocacy group

How to live more sustainably: quick tips

Spread the love! Pick your favorite green tip and pass it on.

Around the Home

  • Pay as many bills as possible online and put a stop to unsolicited mail
  • Consider using a laptop instead of a desktop; they consume less energy
  • Turn your electronics off and unplug them, even chargers, when not in use. Powerstrips that have off buttons make this practice easier.
  • Don't use lights if you don't need them. Turn them off when you leave a room.
  • Switch your light bulbs to CFLs (compact fluorescent lamp) and recycle them at Home Depot or True Value stores.
  • Turn off thermostats when not in use. During the winter, close your windows and blinds to conserve heat. Put on a sweater if you get chilly.
  • Five-minute showers — make it a goal for yourself.
  • Turn the tap off when you brush your teeth. If you shave, turn off the water and fill a cup to rinse the razor instead of running the water the whole time.
  • Wash laundry in cold water instead of hot. Line dry your laundry rather than using the dryer. This reduces emissions, saves you money, and is gentler on your clothes.
  • Lower the temperature on your hot water heater. Most households only require them set at 120 degrees (F).

Purchasing Power

  • Use less. Think about what you need vs. what you want.
  • Shop at the farmers market and join a local CSA (community-supported agriculture)
  • Support local restaurants that use food grown less than 100 miles away.
  • Before buying anything new, first check your local Craigslist or Freecycle (or nearest thrift store)
  • As much as possible, buy previously-used and second-hand items It saves you money and decreases the demand for new products.
  • Instead of buying, share, borrow and lend tools, books, DVDs, clothes and other items with friends.
  • Forego buying paper towels and use cloth napkins daily instead of paper.
  • Stop using plastic bags. Bring reusable bags and produce bags to shop at retail and grocery stores.
  • Stop buying bottled water. Buy a reusable water bottle and refill it.
  • Research whether you can sign up for green power from your utility company.

Out and About

  • Drive the speed limit and combine all your errands for the week in one trip.
  • Ride a bike, walk, or take public transportation when possible. Carpool when it's not.
  • Take the stairs rather than the elevator. It's good for you too!

Creative and Sustainable

  • Learn fix-it skills (i.e. basic carpentry and mending clothes) so you can care for what you own. Just because it has a hole in it, doesn't mean it's destined for the garbage.
  • Make your own household cleaners from inexpensive, non-toxic ingredients.
  • Make rags out of old towels and T-shirts.
  • Repurpose glass jars as leftover containers and bulk storage.
  • Collect rainwater and use it to water your houseplants and garden.
  • Repurpose something. Get creative! Everything from egg cartons to old jeans can be repurposed for something fun and useful.