Sustainability Tips

From Lake Oswego Sustainability Network (LOSN)

Clackamas County Leaders in Sustainability Workplace Sustainable Practice guide

More information about LOSN at 

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Sustainability Tip #1:

Use Paper Sustainably

  • Use copy/print paper that contains at least 30% post-consumer recycled content Paper made with recycled content uses less energy, water, and chemicals to produce because the fiber has already been extracted from trees.  
  • Switch to paperless invoicing, billing and payroll to reduce paper use.
  • Set your printers to double-sided printing as the default.
  • Use post-consumer recycled content for other paper products such as paper towels and envelopes.

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Sustainability Tip #2:

Designating a Sustainability Champion at Your Business

  • Designate an interested employee as a sustainability champion (or for a larger organization, recruit a “Green Team” that has representatives throughout the organization).   These champions have management’s support in implementing green efforts.  
  • The sustainability champion can first develop expertise and receive training in business sustainability and then look for opportunities in recycling, waste prevention, reducing energy consumption and sustainable transportation. 
  • These champions can set goals, measure successes, keep employees energized and look for ways to market these efforts.  
  • The City of Portland has a  Green Team Guide that has examples of ways to start a green team and keep it going.

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Sustainability Tip #3:

Sustainability Training and Support for your Employees.

Support for sustainability can be an important factor in attracting and retaining good employees. Some ways to support your employees include:  

  • Send your employee identified as a green champion to a master recycling course (   
  • Provide new hires with information on recycling, paper reduction, and alternative commuting in their orientation packet.  
  • Celebrate Earth Day with a meeting that includes both a report on progress by your business on sustainability goals and an opportunity to gather feedback from your employees on ways to improve sustainable practices.   
  • Make a written plan available for continuity of operations in case of a disaster or other unexpected disruptions.

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Sustainability Tip #4:

Incorporate Sustainability into your Purchasing Decisions 

  • When you make purchasing decisions consider recycled content, energy and fuel efficiency, buying local, and preference for reuse and repair.
  • Ways in which companies can buy more sustainably are by examining life-cycle impacts of products, opting for greener alternatives, or working with product suppliers that meet specific sustainability-related criteria overall, including offering options for green products.
  • Many environmentally-friendly products cost the same as standard products.  
  • For examples of green products visit EPA’s Green Products and Services Guide or check out some sample sustainable procurement policies.

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Sustainability Tip #5:

Minimize single-use, disposable items

  • Eliminate paper plates, paper cups and paper items from the breakroom or kitchens.
  • Provide washable, reusable service ware (which is cheaper in the long run).
  • Ask staff to bring unused dishes from home to stock the employee breakroom-this minimizes upfront costs.
  • Set up a system for dishes to be washed after meetings.

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Sustainability Tip #6:

Separate food scraps to be composted

  • By collecting food scraps at your business, you can keep waste out of the landfill and reduce greenhouse gas emission
  • Food scraps collected from businesses in our region are put to use as fuel for energy generation via anaerobic digestion.
  • Food establishments in our region will be required over time to separate food scraps for collection, with the first businesses impacted beginning March 2022. 
  • Visit the Clackamas County Garbage and Recycling webpage on reducing wasted food for more information about the food scraps collection program or for tips to reduce food waste.

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Sustainability Tip #7:

Conduct a waste audit and then implement recommendations on the findings. 

  • A waste audit can help you understand your business’s waste streams–what is ending up where. 
  • During a waste audit, representative samples of garbage and recycling are collected, separated, and examined. What you find can help educate employees to reduce waste and manage materials more responsibly. 
  • Note which items make up the bulk of your garbage or recycling and set goals to reduce those. Finding a lot of coffee cups? Encourage staff to use durable coffee mugs instead. Is a lot of paper going to waste? Push paperless options or, at a minimum, set up double-sided printing. Switching to alternatives that reduce waste save businesses money and time in unexpected ways.