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Sustainability at Work

Providing free tools and expertise to achieve your goals

Phone: 503-823-7037


Don’t forget your coat (Mom was right)

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

Earth Day is April 22, so tip your hat to Mother Earth by listening to what moms have been saying for years.

Don't forget your coat (for you or your home)

Why Mom was right

An extra layer protects you from the cold – and the same rings true for your home and workplace, whether that means wearing a sweater inside, or adding extra insulation to your home or building.

And it makes a big difference: About 20 percent of all carbon emissions come from our homes – on average, more than our cars.

How it benefits you

Making your home more energy efficient reduces utility costs and increases the comfort of your home, keeping it warm in winter and cool in summer.

Things you can do

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 energy bills down.

Wash clothes with cold water and hang-dry 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 tips on low cost and no cost energy efficiency improvements from Energy Trust.

Go big at home

The average home has the equivalent of a basketball-sized hole in the wall due to air leaks throughout the house!

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.

Get financial incentives and expert guidance on making energy efficiency home upgrades (or add solar!) from local non-profits Energy Trust of Oregon and Enhabit.

More things Mom got right (but let’s keep this between us):

Carbon emissions data from the City of Portland’s Climate Action Now.

Go play outside (Mom was right)

Celebrate Earth Day 2017 by getting outdoors.

Earth Day is April 22, so tip your hat to Mother Earth by listening to what moms have been saying for years.

hike, bike and volunteer outside

Why Mom was right

Getting outside is good for you: as little as 15 minutes in the woods has been shown to reduce levels of cortisol, the stress hormone.

And why not volunteer to make your community a better place while you’re at it? Portland is filled with outdoor volunteer opportunities. Consider inviting friends to join you, or make new ones.

How it benefits you

Getting outside, spending time with friends, and volunteering your time to help others have all been shown to make us happier and healthier.

Where to go play

Portland is home to more than 152 miles of regional trails laced together, connecting people to each other and to the natural beauty of our city. And right at the heart of Portland is Forest Park, one of the country's largest urban forest reserves — which is eight miles long and covers 5,200 acres!


Sign up to pull ivy in Forest Park or plant trees around Portland. Lend a hand to restore the Willamette, or clean up the beach and other natural areas. We live in a beautiful place, so get out and enjoy it!

More things Mom got right (but let’s keep this between us):

Do you need a dream team?

Build community and momentum for green initiatives by starting a Green Team at your workplace.

Do you feel like the only person working on recycling, and going green, at your workplace?

We bet there are others at your workplace who care too, and by joining forces, you’ll be able to make bigger, faster changes at your workplace, and get to know your coworkers better.

Finding your team

If your workplace already has employee teams, like Health and Wellness, Community Engagement, or Safety, ask if you can put the word out about starting a Green Team, and see who responds.

Or, ask around to find one or two other people, and then build up from there.

Get the Green Team Guide

Download the Green Team Guide

Tips from our Green Team Guide

Here’s what we’ve seen leads to successful green teams:

Get support from the top

Ideally, you want management support in the form of an approved employee green team, a budget, and endorsed initiatives.

Make the case for the green team’s benefit to the organization, such as:

  • Cost savings – reducing costs associated with waste, energy, transportation and water.
  • Attract and retain talent – increasing employee morale and satisfaction.
  • Customer expectations – strengthening brand and increasing market share.
  • Regulatory compliance – staying ahead of legislation.
  • Align practices with values – walking the talk.

Even if you lack official support, a volunteer team can accomplish no-cost, easy actions such as setting up basic recycling and educating coworkers about behaviors that save energy or resources.

Build your team

Recruit team members from all levels and departments within your company, especially those involved with operations, such as office or kitchen managers, and procurement staff.

Set goals

Dream big, but start small. While turning your building’s roof into a garden would be impressive, you’re probably better off starting with smaller goals that can be reached more easily, and build enthusiasm and momentum.

The Sustainability at Work certification application is a great checklist of actions to start from – check off what you’re already doing (or task team members with looking into it), and then choose from what’s left.

Promote your accomplishments

Companies large and small have discovered that informing customers of their sustainable practices can
set them apart from their competitors.

Ready to get started?

Find more in-depth how-to and examples in our Green Team Guide.

Read how one Green Team started big (maybe too big) and then re-started with great success.

Cheers to green business!

See the certified breweries and restaurants that got a shout-out in this week’s WW Beer Guide.

WW 2017 Beer Guide AdWe're celebrating our certified breweries and restaurants with a full page ad in this week's Willamette Week Beer Guide: Check it out, near the front, opposite the table of contents.

There's still time to get your name in a June WW ad!

Get your workplace certified by May 1, and we’ll print your company’s name in a full-page promotion in Willamette Week.

Your company gets good PR, and you get credit for it. Win win!

What’s it cost?

It’s free!

But it will take some sweat equity

You’ll have to make sure your workplace has its operations in good green order. But we’re here to help! 

We can come meet with you at your business, check off what’s already done, and help you tackle what’s left. Plus, we’ll give you free things to help you get there faster: recycling boxes; posters and stickers for recycling, compost and garbage; and water faucet aerators for your bathroom and kitchen sink faucets.

There are also three levels — certified, silver and gold — so you don’t have to do it all right off the bat.

Get started

Download the certification application that best fits your business.

Office certification application     Restaurant certification application

Grocery certification application     Retail certification application

We’re here to help

We’re happy to answer questions, troubleshoot challenges, and cheer you on until you’ve got it in the bag. Give us a call (503-823-7037) or email.

Ace your waste with dry erase

Cut down on paper waste by using dry erase alternatives.

Dry erase name tentsReusable name plates

If you hold a lot of meetings where you use name tents, these are a great way to cut down on one-time-use paper, plus toner and copier wear and tear.

Refillable dry erase marker and refill

Refillable markers

With refillable whiteboard markers, there’s no need to toss the whole marker when the ink runs out.

There are a variety of brands available, and we recommend trying out a few to see which you like best.

Waste-free clean up

Whiteboard eraser and microfiber cloth

Whiteboard erasers work well on newer white boards and last forever.

Tip: Aim to erase white boards shortly after use. The longer the ink stays on the board (especially more than 24 hours), the harder it is to clean off.

Older whiteboards may need more than an eraser to get fully clean; try using microfiber cloths and spray cleaners.

Microfiber cloths can be used many times before washing. To clean, hand wash with dish soap and warm or cold water (not hot water), rinse and let air dry.

Make it easy with a meeting kit

In our office, we set up a kit with dry erase name tents and refillable markers, plus a spray bottle and cloth to clean off past names.

Staff check out the kit for meetings, and there's a bag included for taking it to off-site meetings.

Other dry-erase uses

Sign-in sheets: One local eye clinic created a dry erase sign-in sheet for all their patients. At the end of the day, they scan it for their records and then wipe it clean to be used the next day.

To-do list: Keep track of project timelines and to-do lists with a small whiteboard, where you can easily edit as you move through tasks.