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Tips to go green in 2016: Your stuff

There are many fun and money-saving ways to reduce waste and consume sustainably.

The “stuff” we buy has a big impact on the environment. Making, shipping, and packaging goods accounts for 22 percent of our county’s household carbon emissions.

Borrow more than books

Borrowing items you seldom need will save you storage space and money. Did you know that Portland has lending libraries where you can check out home and garden tools, kitchen gadgets and kids’ toys?

Your Stuff Climate Action Now


Home improvement projects? Gardening projects? Borrow tools from a tool library!


Kids getting bored with their toys? Borrow new toys, or swap their old toys for new!


Want to try your hand at making jam? Borrow a big pot and supplies from a local kitchen library.

Buy used and de-clutter

When you need something, look for it used before buying it new—you’ll often find a higher-quality item for less money. Many stores that sell used items also accept them, so you can also drop off items you no longer use. You’ll de-clutter your home and get still-usable items into someone else’s hands.

Home remodeling supplies

And more

Find more resources and ideas from Portland’s Resourceful PDX.

Graphics and information from the City of Portland’s Climate Action Now as well as Resourceful PDX.

Tips to go green in 2016: Energy

Lights off, heat down; energy efficiency measures in your home abound.

Simple changes, like using LED light bulbs and making your home more energy efficient, can save energy and money and increase the comfort of your home.

LEDs Climate Action Now

  • Replace incandescent bulbs with LEDs, which last so long that you’re looking at up to 20 years of energy bill savings.
  • Adjust your thermostat to be cooler in winter and warmer in summer—a few degrees either way will keep you comfy and keep energy bills down.
  • Try taking a shorter shower, and hang-dry your clothes rather than using a clothes dryer. Tweaking a few home habits can make a big difference! 
  • Buy clean power from your utility company. It’s a few bucks a month and helps promote clean, renewable energy.

Find more low cost/no cost energy efficiency tips from Energy Trust

Own a home?

The average home has the equivalent of a basketball-sized hole in the wall due to air leaks throughout the house. Stop leaks with insulation and duct sealing.

  • With a caulk gun and some weather-stripping tape, you can be a DIY weatherization champ. Seal cracks around windows, doors and wall outlets to reduce drafts, protect against moisture and improve indoor air quality.
  • Or get help, including financial incentives and expert guidance, to make energy efficiency home upgrades (or add solar!) from local non-profits Energy Trust of Oregon and Enhabit.

Find additional tips and resources.

Energy is in everything

Ever wondered if it’s more sustainable to use a paper towel and throw it out, or use a cloth towel and wash it? Check out this six minute TED Talk, where one self-proclaimed data nerd tackles this question, and many more, as she looks at the embodied energy in things we buy and use.

Graphics and information from the City of Portland’s Climate Action Now.

Tips to go green in 2016: Food

Just eat it, and other tips for greening your plate.

Reducing your food waste and choosing more fruits, veggies and grains will help you stay healthy and save money while lowering your carbon impact.

Food Climate Action Now

Will it make a difference? Yes! The average family throws away 25 percent of the food it buys, wasting about $1,600 a year. And the global system for producing, distributing and disposing of food accounts for about 15 percent of household carbon emissions.

Stretch the life of your perishable food. Don’t assume a date stamp means the food has gone bad. Learn how long foods really last.

Eat more fruits, veggies and grains. Trimming down the amount of processed (or packaged) foods and meat you eat can make a big impact because they use tons of energy to grow and process.

Big or small, compost it all. Whether you are cleaning out the fridge, scraping your plate or prepping food, composting all of your food scraps is an important way to reduce your carbon emissions.

Check out more tips and resources.

Graphics and information from the City of Portland’s Climate Action Now.

Win prizes by opting for a reusable coffee mug in April 2016

From April 1-22, 2016, a group of Portland Green Teams sweetens your switch to reusable coffee mugs.

A group of Portland Green Teams wants to reward you for ditching your disposable coffee cup.

In celebration of Earth Month 2016, Portlanders who bring a reusable mug to coffee shops between April 1st - 22nd can get entered into a raffle to win prizes!

April 1-22 2016

How does it work?

  1. Download a Reduce, Reuse, Recaffeinate punch card.
  2. Ask your barista to initial or punch your card each time you use a reusable cup.
  3. Email us a picture of your card (with at least one punch) by April 22, 2016.
  4. Get entered to win prizes.

*Valid for workplaces located within Portland.

What can I win?

Prizes include Portland Trail Blazers tickets, coffee and more!

Get your workplace involved

  1. Download a poster promoting Reduce, Reuse, Recaffeinate.
  2. Download and distribute punch cards.


  • Print punch cards on re-use paper (paper already printed on one side).
  • Put punch cards in an envelope attached to the poster to make it easy for coworkers to get started.
  • Give your workplace’s closest coffee shop a head’s up. You can even ask if they’d be willing to hang a poster.

Organized by PDX Green Teams UnitePDX Green Teams Unite

PDX Green Teams Unite is a group of green teams from different Portland organizations who work together to engage employees around sustainability. This is the second year they’ve organized the Reduce Reuse Recaffeinate campaign for Earth Month.


Getting buy-in: Speak to their interests

Frame your sustainability initiatives in terms decision makers care about.

How do you get the green light to go green?

If your efforts to implement new sustainability measures aren’t getting the go-ahead from decision makers, try something that has worked well for others:

Speak to their interests.

Sustainability efforts can have numerous benefits beyond environmental good. Think about what motivates the decision makers in your organization, and find where their interests align with yours.


going green = saving green = green light

For example:

Reduced operating costs through reducing paper, energy and waste.

Marketing benefits to reach and retain customers who value sustainability.

Responding to client demand for sustainable business practices.

Improved employee retention through engaged staff, who feel their workplace is doing the right thing.