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Tips to Live More Sustainably

Discover your carbon footprint and how to reduce it by living in a more environmentally friendly way.

There are many ways you can take action to benefit both the environment and your life. Below are some examples that can contribute to a healthier planet and community.

What’s your carbon footprint?

The first step to taking personal action to help slow climate change is to know what your carbon footprint is and how you can reduce your personal carbon emissions. Everyone has a carbon footprint. The products we use, businesses, and even entire industries have carbon footprints. Your carbon footprint is the amount of carbon emissions released into the atmosphere as a result of your energy needs and personal choices. Your carbon footprint includes emissions from a variety of sources — your daily commute (do you use a car, ride the bus, or bicycle?), the food you eat (are you an omnivore or a vegetarian?), the clothes you buy (where are they made and from what materials?), and more! The larger your footprint, the greater the impact on the environment.

Find out what your carbon footprint is.

Ways to take action

Reduce your energy use and save money

Use less energy by weatherizing your home, lowering your heating and cooling, adjusting the thermostat according to the season, switching to LED light bulbs and energy-efficient appliances and washing your laundry with cold water.

Community Action has no-cost weatherization assistance programs for Washington County residents.

Community Energy Projects offers weatherization incentives, financing assistance, and free educational workshops.

ENERGY STAR certified products can help save energy.

Energy Trust of Oregon provides energy-related DYI resources and incentives for residents.

Energy Trust of Oregon offers income-qualified services.

Energy Trust of Oregon gives low-cost and no-cost tips to save energy and money.

Oregon Department of Energy has heat pump incentive programs.

The State of Oregon has weatherization services and financial assistance for utility bill payments.

Washington County has a Woodstove Exchange Program to help eligible people replace old wood stoves and inserts.

Say yes to renewable energy

Our electrical grid contains power from many sources, including fossil fuels like coal and natural gas. Ask your utility company about their green power options and see if you can switch to renewable sources such solar. Homeowners may consider installing solar panels on their roof.

Community Solar Projects has options for renters and homes that don’t qualify for solar installations.

Energy Trust of Oregon offers solar programs for residential and businesses.

Energy Trust of Oregon gives solar incentives for income-qualified households.

NW Native Chamber provides energy efficient upgrades for Native homeowners.

Pacific Power's Blue Sky has renewable power programs.

PGE offers renewable power options.

Solar Oregon helps homeowners and communities go solar.

The Oregon Department of Energy has solar and rebate programs for homeowners.

Walk, bike, or take public transportation

Forty percent of Oregon's total greenhouse gas emissions come from transportation emissions. Choose to walk, ride a bike, or take public transit whenever possible to help reduce emissions. 

Bike Farm has affordable bicycles and a DIY bike shop.

Bike Works by p:ear has affordable bike repair services and training opportunities.

Get There Oregon provides resources to plan trips, find/create carpools and vanpools and rewards programs/challenges.

Google has a mapping tool of bike fix-it stations and bike shops in Washington County.

Metro has a mapping tool with bike-friendly trails, paths and streets.

ODOT has educational materials for bike riders and pedestrians, bicycle maps, project design and funding resources and trip planning tools.

POINT Bus is an affordable and environmentally friendly alternative to long-distance driving in Oregon.

RideshareOnline provides free carpool, vanpool and bicycle ride matching services, bus and rail options, and SchoolPool carpooling programs for parents.

Street Trust of Oregon has events and programs such as commuter clinics and workshops to support safe active transportation.

Ride Connection gives transportation options to individuals in need. 

TriMet provides news and service updates for subscribers.

TriMet has a reduced-fare Hop Card based on income.

TriMet’s TransitTracker™ gives real-time transit information.

Westside Transportation Alliance sends updates on transportation options through their newsletter.

WashCo Bikes has used bikes and bike repair services in Downtown Hillsboro.

Washington County's Office of Sustainability provides a map of active transportation options in Downtown Hillsboro.

Westside Transportation Alliance gives one-on-one consultations, maps, webinars and online events for bike riders and pedestrians.

Switch to an electric vehicle (EV)

Electric cars help reduce air pollution and cause significantly fewer greenhouse gas emissions than gas or diesel-powered vehicles. They may be expensive up front, but these costs can be offset by tax credits, the significantly lower cost to maintain them and the reduced fuel cost of electricity. 

Forth Mobility supports initiatives to advance equity in electric mobility and programs such as electric vehicles carsharing networks. is a virtual resource to explore the electric vehicle marketplace.

Oregon Clean Vehicle Rebate Program (Department of Environmental Quality)

PGE offers home electric vehicles charging rebates.

The Internal Revenue Services (IRS) gives credits for electric vehicle purchases.

The U.S. Department of Energy has a tool to calculate total cost of ownership and emissions for makes and models of most vehicles.

The U.S. Department of Energy has a list of incentives, laws and regulations related to alternative fuels and advance vehicles in Oregon.

Prevent food waste

Food waste is responsible for approximately 8-10% of global emissions. When you throw food away, you're also wasting the resources and energy that were used to grow, produce, package and transport it. Then, when food rots in a landfill, it produces methane, a powerful greenhouse gas. You can prevent food waste by planning your groceries with meals in mind, buying only what you need, using leftovers for new recipes, composting food scraps and more.

Eat Smart Waste Less Challenge has educational materials about actions you can take to prevent food from going to waste.

Don’t Let Good Food Go Bad provides resources and information to help prevent food waste.

Food Hero Program provides culturally specific recipes, ingredient-based recipes, and gardening tips.

The Environmental Protection Agency gives tips to prevent food waste at home.

Oregon State University has a Master Food Preserve Program and educational materials about food preservation.

Green Business Leaders provides free technical assistance and resources in sustainable practices to businesses in Washington County.

Shop and eat sustainably

You can significantly lower your environmental impact by reducing the amount of animal-based products you use, buying locally grown and made products, growing your own food and shopping for produce that is in season. We understand that shopping and eating sustainably aren’t always accessible for everyone, though. The resources below offer more information on the ways your food impacts climate change, how to shop and eat more sustainably and food justice.

Adelante Mujeres offers a 14-week course for Latinx farmers focused on techniques to grow vegetables locally and to market their products.

Centro Cultural, Filipino Bayanihan Center, NAYA Family Center, Resources Guide (Ukrainian and Slavic foods), The Asian Food Pantry have culturally specific foods and fresh produce.

FoodPrint helps you learn about the environmental impact of the foods that you eat.

FoodPrint gives tips to shopping sustainably.

FoodPrint discusses food justice, what it is, why it's necessary and what we can do about it.

Forest Grove, Hillsboro Community Gardens, Tualatin Hills Park and Recreation District lease community garden plots.

GoGreen explains the environmental benefits of buying locally.

Meatless Monday suggests a variety of vegetarian recipes.

Oregon Farmers Markets sell seasonal and locally grown produce.

Oregon State University offers a Master Gardener Program.

The Farmers Market Fund offers the Double Up Food Bucks (DUFB) program that doubles your SNAP dollars when you spend them on fresh produce at farmers markets, CSAs and farm stands.

The School of Environment and Sustainability's columnist discusses about veganism and inclusion.

The United Nations explains how the food we eat impacts climate change.

Working Theory Farm has a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program so people can buy their organic produce directly from the farmers.

Reduce, reuse, repair and recycle

Buying fewer things, shopping second-hand, repairing what you can, and recycling helps cut carbon emissions from the extraction of raw materials to manufacturing and transporting goods to market.

Beaverton, Cedar Mill and Bethany Community Library, Hillsboro, Sherwood, Tigard, and the Washington County Cooperative Library Services have collections of items such as electronics, tools, etc. for loan.

Buy Nothing (neighborhood-based movement to donate and ask for free items), Community Warehouse, Goodwill, Habitat for Humanity Restore offer second-hand resources.

Rebuilding Center sells reclaimed building and home improvement materials.

SCRAP sells reused scrap materials in good conditions.

Washington County Solid Waste and Recycling has a list of repair fairs and events.