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Sustainability Take Homes

Things you can do...

Here are a few things we found in exploring solutions for a more eco-conscious facility that we thought you might find useful. Please also visit the Intitute for Sustainable Solutions' page on more actions you can take to support sustainability efforts on campus.

Water Conservation
Energy Conservation
Environmental Conservation
Hazardous Household Chemicals
Eco-Household Cleaning Ideas
Reduce Carbon Footprint

Water Conservation

In the Bathroom

  • Install a water-saving shower head. Older heads use 5-10 gallons per minute. All new fixtures use approximately 2.5 gpm and offer equal water coverage and force.
  • Try shorter showers. A 15-minute shower uses 30-40 gallons of water. The average American uses 100 gallons of water per shower.
  • Check your toilets for slow leaks. Place dye tablets in your toilet tank. After several minutes, if you see the dye enter your toilet bowl, you know you have a leak.
  • Consider installing a high efficiency toilet (HET) that only uses 1.28 gallons/flush.
  • Consider installing a toilet tummy.

 In the Kitchen

  • Rinse dishes, vegetables and fruits in a filled basin, rather than under running water.
  • Water your plants with left-over rinse water. (Plants also love fish tank water!)
  • Wash only full loads in the dishwasher. Use the "light wash" setting when possible.
  • Consider buying a high efficiency dishwasher that will save water and energy. Some water districts and homeowners associations give discounts for this.
  • Keep a jug of chilled water in the refrigerator for drinking to avoid running the water until it gets cold. There is also a debate about whether to drink cold water at all and whether water at room temperature is better for you.

 With your Laundry

  • Wash only full loads of clothing.
  • Hand wash single garments.
  • Consider buying a high efficiency washing machine that will save water and energy. Some water districts and homeowners associations give rebates for this.

Track your own water usage. How many gallons do you use a day? 

Energy Conservation

  • Unplug items that are not in use!!  It is estimated that as much as 30% of the electricity consumed in this country is used to power things that are off or not in use.
  • Install compact florescent bulbs.
  • Use weather stripping.
  • Install reflective roof treatment.
  • Install storm windows/door.
  • Use a woodstove or fireplace for added heat.
  • Install high efficiency appliances.
  • Hang clothes to dry.
  • Have a formal energy audit of your home. Consider using the Energy Trust of Oregon to schedule a FREE energy audit of your home today.
  • Here is a checklist of other low cost options.
  • For more appliance options visit One Stop Green.

How efficient is your home? Take the quiz here.   

Environmental Conservation 

  • Shop/support Farmers markets or CSA’s (Community Supported Agriculture)
  • Eat less meat, especially beef. Here’s why

Here are some local options :
Peoples Food Co-op
Food Front Co-op
Alberta Grocery Co-op
Portland State Farmers Market
Know Thy Food - A farm direct and bulk food buying club

Hazardous Household Chemicals

Some of the most common hazardous ingredients in household products :

  • Allethrin can be neurtoxic, damaging to immune system used in pet flea control
  • Aliphatic petroleum solventneurtoxic found in carpet cleaners
  • Chlorinated phenols found in toilet bowl cleaners are toxic to respiratory and circulatory systems
  • Diethylene glycol found in window cleaners depresses the nervous system.
  • Phenols found in disinfectants are toxic to respiratory and circulatory systems.
  • Nonylphenolethoxylate, a common surfactant (detergent) found in laundry detergents and all-purpose cleaners, is banned in Europe; it has been shown to biodegrade slowly into even more toxic compounds.
  • Formaldehyde found in spray and wick deodorizers are a respiratory irritant and suspected carcinogen.
  • Petroleum solvents in floor cleaners damage mucous membranes.
  • Perchloroethylene, a spot remover, causes liver and kidney damage.
  • Butyl cellosolve, common in all-purpose, window and other types of cleaners, damages bone marrow, the nervous system, kidneys and the liver.

For more information visit Womens Voices for the Earth.

Eco-Household Cleaning Ideas

Make your own cleaning products by combing and using any of the following products

  • Baking soda : cleaner and deodorizer, can be used on dishes and in the laundry
  • Borax : excellent disinfectant
  • Distilled white vinegar : excellent cleaner you can add essential oils for smell
  • Hydrogen peroxide : good alternative to bleach
  • Lemon juice : disinfectant and smells nice

Homemade Natural Cleaning Solutions (Nontoxic recipes for effective cleaners) :

  • Furniture Polish : Mix 1 teaspoon of lemon juice in 1 pint of mineral or vegetable oil. Apply a small amount to a clean cotton cloth and wipe wooden parts of furniture.
  • Rug Deodorizer : Deodorize dry carpets by sprinkling liberally with baking soda. Wait at least 15 minutes and vacuum. Repeat if necessary.
  • Mothballs : Use cedar chips or a sachet with any or all of the following: lavender flowers, rosemary, mint, white peppercorns.
  • Whitening Scouring Powder : Combine 1 cup baking soda, 2 teaspoons cream of tartar, 1/8 cup borax, 1/4 cup grated lemon, orange or grapefruit peel and mix well. Scrub using a damp sponge.
  • Glass Cleaner : Combine 1 1/2 cups vinegar, 1/2 cup water and 8 drops citrus essential oil in a spray bottle and shake well. Spray and wipe with a dry cloth or towel.
  • Disinfectant cleaner; you don’t need to worry about any undisclosed contaminants.
    2 teaspoons of Borax, 4 tablespoon white distilled vinegar, 3 cups of hot water, that’s it!

Not sure where to buy products from or who to choose? Check out the Better World Handbook for some of the most socially and environmentally conscious companies.

Reduce your carbon footprint

Take the quiz, what’s your ecological footprint? This website estimates the area of land and ocean required to support your consumption of food, goods, services, housing, and energy and assimilate your wastes. Your footprint is broken down into four consumption categories: carbon (home energy use and transportation), food, housing, and goods and services.

Local resouces

Check out these cool companies that we got some of our awesome recycled furniture from! Eco PDX is handcrafted furniture from reclaimed and salvaged hardwoods and Tropical Salvage offers sustainable wood furniture, for the home and commercial business, made exclusively of old, reclaimed tropical hardwoods. You may also consider thrifting furniture from garage sales and other second hand shops, which reuses materials.