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What Can You Do?

There’s a lot you can do to make our community and our world a more sustainable place. We all make choices every day that affect water and air quality, energy use, health, biodiversity, climate, social networks and the economy. The good news is that every day there's more information and assistance to make your choices sustainable ones.

The practices on this page are not just more sustainable, they will save you money. For more sustainability information useful to Clackamas County citizens and households, explore the links below.  Please note:  This list includes just a sample of useful websites; there are many others.

Building and Construction

Whatever the size of your building or remodeling project, from painting a room to constructing a new house, you can choose materials that are healthier for you and your family to live with and are easier on the environment.

  • Green Development Resource Center is a collaborative effort between Metro, Clackamas, Multnomah and Washington counties and the City of Portland Office of Sustainable Development to provide comprehensive green building resources for residents, businesses and contractors throughout the region
  • The Cascadia Region Green Building Council is a non-profit organization that promotes the design, construction and operation of buildings that are environmentally responsible, profitable and healthy places to live and work in Oregon, Washington and British Columbia.
  • Go to The Rebuilding Center to purchase used building materials, donate materials or find out about deconstruction services.
  • Go to the Habitat for Humanity ReStore in Portland or Canby to purchase or donate new or used building materials.

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Preparing local produceFarmers' Markets and Food

The production and distribution of food are major components of our economy in Clackamas County -- and have a huge impact on our communities, our environment - and your health!

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Energy Use

According to the Oregon Department of Energy, on average Oregonians spend 15% of their total energy use on their homes. The typical Oregon household spends about $165 a year just for showers and baths. Other typical expenses include:

Refrigerator: $90
Clothes washer: $60
Dishwasher: $47
Water heater heat loss: $75

You can make simple choices to reduce energy use.

  • Energy Trust of Oregon has services and programs for homes and businesses.
  • Interested in solar energy?  Check out Solar Oregon.   
  • See the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory's Home Energy Saver website to help you identify the best ways to save energy in your home and find the resources to make the savings happen.
  • The Oregon Department of Energy can help with advice on conservation, renewable energy and climate change, and energy loans.
  • The EPA Energy Star program can help you select energy-efficient appliances.

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Indoor Air Quality

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), scientific research shows that air within homes and other buildings can be more seriously polluted than the outdoor air in even the largest and most industrialized cities. Other research indicates that people spend approximately 90 percent of their time indoors. For many people, the risks to health may be greater due to exposure to air pollution indoors than outdoors.

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Landscaping

In your yard and garden you can make choices that will save money, protect environmental resources and help beautify and preserve your community.

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Local Economy

Supporting local businesses helps to keep our community and our economy strong and sustainable.

Area chambers of commerce are a great source of information about businesses. 

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Smart Shopping

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Transportation

Your transportation choices have profound impacts on your life, on the environment, on public costs, and on the livability of our neighborhoods.  Here are some tips and places to look for help making positive changes:

Biking

  • Learn about cycling events, resources and organizations in the Portland area, go to Metro’s Bike There
  • Participate in the region's annual Commute Challenge along with your co-workers.
  • When it comes to converting energy to motion, the bicycle is the most energy-efficient form of transportation ever devised, go to Oregon’s Bicycle Transportation Alliance.  

Bus and Public Transit

  • Get on the bus! For information on routes and fares, go to Trimet.

Driving

  • Think about going car-free one or more days per week. Challenge yourself to something different--biking, walking, carpooling, or taking transit.
  • Ease up on the pedal. You could improve your mileage by anywhere from 10% to as much as 33% by accelerating slowly, coasting, and staying within the speed limit.
  • Link your trips. Keep a list of trips to make and plan them out to do as many at once as possible, or on the way to and from work.
  • Don't idle--all you'll get is zero miles per gallon. The best way to warm up your car on a cold morning is by driving at a moderate or slow speed, and accelerating gradually.
  • Slow down. Each five miles per hour over 60 mph has the same effect as paying 20 cents more per gallon of gas.
  • Size it right. Buy and drive the vehicle with greater fuel efficiency.

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Waste Reduction and Recycling

Recycling is great, but reducing what you use and what you waste in the first place is an even better way to conserve resources and save money.

Content provided by Sustainability

Similar topics: garbage recycling sustainability