Environmental Tips

Beginning February 1st this page will feature a daily suggestion for being kinder to the environment. Stay tuned! We hope to show you that it can be easy being green. 

Join a CSA to get shares of local, farm-fresh foods.

Did you know that Lake Oswego's own Luscher Farm offers Community Sourced Agriculture (CSA) opportunities? 

Substitute beeswax treated paper for plastic wrap.

Bee's Wrap offers a variety of products handmade in Vermont. They can be purchased locally at New Seasons, Nordstrom, and Natural Grocers stores.

Choose cloth cleaning pads and mops instead of disposable.

There are a variety of wash-and-reuse cleaning tools available now that allow you to clean in a more sustainable (and sanitary) way! 

Unplug appliances when not in use, as they can draw energy even when turned off.

Why not check out one of the library's kill-a-watt meters to see where you are losing electricity in your home?

Recycle everything you can!

The Portland metro area has many organizations that can recycle an incredibly wide array of items. Oregon Metro provides a comprehensive tool to find all kinds of recyclers.

Use loose-leaf tea, as tea bags often contain plastic.

We have many incredible loose leaf tea outlets in the Portland area. Have you been to the hidden gem that is the Stash Tea retail store?

Take shorter showers or install a low-flow showerhead.

Did you know the Energy Trust of Oregon offers discounts on energy-efficient showerheads? You may qualify for a free one if you own a condo, townhome, or multi-family unit!

Use green, environmentally-friendly cleaning products.

Making your own cleaning compounds is better for the Earth and can be cheaper than store-bought products. Check out all the books we have on green cleaning!

Walk, bike, or take public transportation in the Metro area.

MAX, streetcar, buses, trams... the greater Portland area has a variety of public transportation options. It's easy to plan a trip. A streetcar pass only costs $2.00!

Review your home's insulation for maximum effectiveness.

Insulation can make a big difference in how much it costs to heat and cool your home. The department of energy has a comprehensive website on home insulation, including regional recommendations for R-values.

Use a thermos or your own cup at your local coffee shop.

Most coffee shops, large or small, will offer an incentive to those using their personal travel mug when they order a drink. Ask about it!

Use both sides of printer paper whenever feasible.

You can also utilize the Print Preview function on your computer to make sure you aren't printing more pages than you need. Another trick is to highlight what you want to print and then choose Print Selection. Questions? Ask a librarian for a demonstration!

Choose compact fluorescent light bulbs.

Does light bulb terminology overwhelm you? Visit Portland's Light Bulb Lady, Kay Newell! She's owned Sunlan Lighting light bulb store since 1989. There's even a documentary about her!

Book green hotels and eco-lodges when traveling.

Ecotourism has become quite the vacation industry. Oregon has many hospitality partners with an eye on sustainability. Check out this list of "Green Inspected" B&Bs!


Aside from getting to use a faster lane on the highway, carpooling can often include reduced-price parking permits and other perks. Here is what downtown Portland has to offer.

Buy local to reduce the carbon footprint of the goods you consume.

This one can be tough. It's hard to say no to the convenience that online shopping and instant delivery offer. Try making things fun by compiling a list of the shops within a mile of your house and try to visit them all once this year to support small businesses. 

Repair whenever possible to extend the life of your possessions.

We are lucky to live in such an eco-minded part of the world. Portland is home to so many DIY, repair-fair, and lending establishments to help citizens. Just check out Repair PDX! Their motto is: Spreading repair culture.

Recycle your food waste into a compost bin to produce mulch for your garden.

Don't need your own yard compost? Lake Oswego is one of only a few cities in Oregon that provides curbside composting. Separating food waste from your landfill garbage can save you money. 

Refuse plastic straws when dining out and carry your own reusable one with you.

The market has exploded with reusable straws in many materials. There are several options available in silicone, metal, glass, bamboo and more. Make sure you choose a straw with a brush cleaner. They help keep the inside from getting funky!

Eat less meat. Meat requires more energy to process and therefore increases your carbon footprint.

With an influx of meat substitutes flooding the market (all the way to fast food chains) there are many ways to get your meat fix and be more sustainable. 

Switch to an electric vehicle!

While the Toyota Prius was the only player in the game for some time, there are now hybrid or all-electric vehicles offered by many automakers at lots of different price points. Toyota, Chevrolet, Ford, Honda, Nissan, Hyundai, and Kia all offer hybrid or electric models. Prices range from $22,400 to $37,000.

Try to get some working-at-home time to reduce carbon emissions.

Telecommuting has benefits for the environment. With so many options to conduct virtual meetings, conferences, and webinars, it's possible to work from home without disrupting the flow of business.

Use a microwave instead of your conventional oven when cooking or heating small amounts of food.

If you've managed to live without one for this long, you may be surprised to learn that microwave ovens are energy efficient and also reasonably priced. Sales and coupons can get you one for under $30!

Invest in a water filter to reduce reliance on bottled water.

Many refrigerators come with a water filter and dispenser built-in. If you don't have one, there are low-cost alternatives such as adding a filter to your kitchen sink faucet. This is simple and inexpensive. You can use a refillable container and stay hydrated on the go!

Use the library!

Did you know that library items often circulate more than 100 times before being replaced or discarded? This includes books, CDs, DVDs and more! 

Contact local elected officials to encourage the development of a climate plan for your area.

Elected officials have contact information that is available to the public through state or federal websites. Oregon even provides a link to a downloadable list of contact data for Senators and Representatives.

Calculate your carbon footprint.

Curious about what your daily routine translates to regarding environmental impact? Use the EPA's carbon calculator to get a sense of where you could make improvements.