Green Neighbors Program

The Clark County Green Neighbors Program was developed and is maintained by Clark County Solid Waste and Environmental Outreach to assist citizens with developing more sustainable lifestyles and building a strong environmental community in Clark County. Solid waste regional planning and programs are a cooperative effort of Battle Ground, Camas, Clark County, La Center, Ridgefield, Vancouver, Washougal, and Yacolt. Funding for this project provided by a grant from the Washington State Department of Ecology.

Clark County makes every effort to ensure the accuracy of the information provided on this web site. However, due to the possibility of transmission errors, HTML browser capabilities, changes made since the last update to the site, etc., neither Clark County, nor any agency, officer, or employee of Clark County warrants the accuracy, reliability, or timeliness of any information published by this system, nor endorses any content, viewpoints, products, or services linked from this system, and shall not be held liable for any losses caused by reliance on the accuracy, reliability, or timeliness of such information. Portions of such information may be incorrect or not current. Any person or entity that relies on any information obtained from this system does so at his or her own risk.

In offering information on the Web, Clark County seeks to balance our requirement for public access with the privacy needs of individual citizens. Information that appears on the Clark County Web site is part of the public record. By law, it is available for public access, whether by telephone request, visiting county offices, or through other means.

This site contains links to other websites. Clark County is not responsible for the privacy practices or the content, accuracy or opinions expressed on such websites, and such websites are not investigated, monitored or checked by us for accuracy or completeness. Inclusion of any linked website on our site does not imply approval or endorsement of the linked website by us.

cc logo

Contact Details

Call us
(360) 397-2121 x4352

Resources

  • Energy Efficiency

    Keeping our homes efficient isn’t just about using resources wisely. It could also mean financial savings. Just changing the bulbs we use could reduce the electricity bill. Adjusting the setting on the hot water heater and affects both our energy usage and our pocket books. Whether you’re looking for long-term energy efficiency projects or quick tips, take a look at all our tips and resources.

    Efficient Home

    Your house is a system. How and where it sits on the property, known as ‘siting’, determines how it will be affected by the seasons and weather. The walls, roof, floor, windows, doors, and insulation make up the envelope of the structure. The heating and cooling, ventilation, and ductwork should work well separately and together for optimal performance. For many tips on these individual systems and household appliances, check out services & resources or home assessments.

     

    Related articles: Home Assessments | Transportation

  • Food: Too Good to Waste

    Throwing out food, throwing out money

    Wasted food is a hot topic these days and for good reason. We’re not talking about food scraps or compost here, but edible food. Food that could have been eaten if it didn’t get slimy or moldy, if we had planned better, or been more realistic about menu planning and shopping. An average family is thought to waste $1,365 to $2,275 per year. See TIPS to reduce wasted food in your kitchen.

    Wasted food means wasted money, as well as resources. Growing food is an energy and resource intensive endeavor, with many externalized costs (water, gas for tractors, fertilizers, to name a few) that should not be taken lightly or for granted.

    Read more

     

    Related articles: Thoughtful Consumption | Holiday Waste Reduction

    food waste article

    Did you know?

    Consumers are responsible for more wasted food than any other point in the food system. This has become the case only in the last 40–50 years. Going back even further, “leftovers” was not a category of food in the 19th century (until the advent of the refrigerator), as using up food was fundamental and normal. It wasn’t until the country started to prosper and people felt a sense of abundance, that leftovers became a bit of a joke, and dinnertime was met with grumbles if food made a repeat appearance.

    Food insecurity

    hungry kid eating spaghettiAs if we need another compelling reason to care about wasted food, consider world hunger and how many people experience food insecurity in our country. “In the United States, reducing losses by one-third would save enough food to equal the total diets of all 50 million food-insecure Americans — if only this food could actually be captured and distributed to them.” (Gunders)


    What’s being done?

    Recently, however, increased public awareness about the amount of food we collectively waste, has spurred research, campaigns, discussion, and resolutions — all in the name of changing both consumer behavior and the overall loss of food in our food system. The European Parliament passed a resolution in 2012 to reduce food waste by 50% by 2020. The U.K. has launched a widespread public awareness campaign, “Love Food Hate Waste”, with a helpful website.

    As Dana Gunders, from the Natural Resources Defense Council, urges in her book, Waste Free Kitchen Handbook, become a “food-waste warrior!” The preeminent publication on this topic, her book is packed full of interesting information and helpful tips, some of which we have highlighted here.

    What you can do

    plate of leftover food

    You can help reduce waste in your home various ways. Examples include shopping wisely; learning when food goes bad and understanding sell by, use by, and expiration dates; buying imperfect produce; storing and cooking food with an eye to reducing waste; freezing unused ingredients and leftovers; serving smaller portions and getting creative with leftovers.

    Whatever form your food waste prevention takes, remember not to be too hard on yourself. No one is perfect and change takes time. Try focusing on one behavior change at a time and see how it goes!


    Wasted food prevention tips

  • Clark conservation district

    A great local resource is the Clark Conservation District, whose mission is to protect, conserve, and improve natural resources. The District focuses on water quality, soils management to limit erosion and run off, and critical habitat areas. Staff conduct outreach and education of best management practices, enhancement, and development to benefit present and future citizens.

  • Thoughtful Consumption

    What is Consumption?

    The car in the driveway, table in the dining room, clothes in the closet, TV in the living room, and the food we ate for lunch — all of these are components of consumption. Often times, consumption is merely equated to the products we buy, a.k.a. all the “stuff” we have in our lives. But consumption is about more than just products. Services we pay for, events we attend, food we eat, and trips we take also factor greatly into our consumption patterns.

    What makes consumption thoughtful is considering all of these different aspects when making choices, as well as who and what will be impacted by our decisions. It is also important to strike a balance between what it is we need and what it is we want. Then, once we determine what our needs are, finding out just how much we need to fulfill our everyday functions (ex: does a family really need one car for each family member?). Essentially, thoughtful consumption asks us to be just that: thoughtful.

    Read more

     

    Related articles: Food: Too Good to Waste | Holiday Waste Reduction

    thoughtful gas consumption article

    Over-consumption?

    The United States has 5% of the world population, but uses about a quarter of the world’s fossil fuel resources to support our lifestyle. Americans are notorious for how much we consume in our everyday lives. The most striking way to look at this would be to consider that if everyone on the planet lived like we did (used as many resources), it would take the equivalent of at least four earths to support our lifestyle. To quantify your own ecological footprint, take the simple online quiz: Footprint Calculator.

    Does five tons sound like a lot? Well, that is about how many pounds worth of belongings the average American family has according to the American Moving and Storage Association. Maybe that is because our homes are getting bigger — 2,657 square feet on average in 2014 compared to 983 square feet in 1950. More room for more stuff!

    One thing those bigger houses do have plenty of room for? More food! Americans are currently eating 25% more calories each day than they did in 1970. Since the 1980s, our plate surface has increased by 44%. Additionally, we waste about 25% of our edible food. Food is generally the largest component of municipal solid waste. For more information about the wasted food issue and some household tips, see our Food: Too Good to Waste webpage.

    Times have undoubtedly changed over the past 50 years, in many ways for the better, but being thoughtful about our consumption choices goes a long way.

    Thoughtful Consumption

    We all have stuff in our lives and that’s ok! Looking to downsize, de-clutter, and make conscious purchases? You are not alone. Many folks are making the change, consuming less, consuming differently, and considering what they want versus need. Whatever happened to sharing, trading, renting, and borrowing? We don’t all need our own lawnmower, do we?

    First, buy smart. Ask questions. Read labels and ingredients. Scrutinize and don’t be taken in by “green washing” if you are looking for an environmentally-friendly product. Where was it made, who benefits from its sale, is it over-packaged? What will I do with it at the end of its life? Consider products that are durable, repairable, and reusable instead of “throw away” and one-time use. Plan for longevity. Will you be able to find parts and repair this item? Take part in the sharing economy!

    These questions and more are all great things to ponder when making a purchase, taking a trip, or even choosing a local business. The decisions we make every day have an impact.

  • Conservation resources

    Water Resources Education Center

    Whether exploring Vancouver’s Water Resources Education Center’s website or visiting their beautiful facility overlooking the Columbia River in Vancouver, you'll find a world of information designed to inspire us to become better stewards of our water resources. Teaching people of all ages how to wisely use this important, life-giving natural resource is what the Water Resources Education Center is all about. Visit the Water Resources Education Center: 4600 SE Columbia Way Vancouver, WA.

    Nature Conservancy

    The Nature Conservancy also has great information about the average water footprint in America and the “hidden” water we each consume.

    Clark Conservation District

    A great local resource is the Clark Conservation District, whose mission is to protect, conserve, and improve natural resources. The District focuses on water quality, soils management to limit erosion and run off, and critical habitat areas. Staff conduct outreach and education of best management practices, enhancement, and development to benefit present and future citizens.

    Washington State Department of Ecology

    Water is a valuable resource in Washington. Using our resources wisely will help us fill the needs of people, industries, businesses and farms, while also keeping fish and other aquatic life alive and well. Across the state these water users have diverse needs and goals; we must find a way to share limited, fluctuating supplies. For tips and conservation ideas for your home and business, see the Department of Ecology’s water conservation website.

  • Services & resources

    Planet Clark

    Planet Clark is a public-private outreach and education partnership group of Energy Efficiency Services, Building Safety, and Environmental Services from Clark County (which started Planet Clark) and Clark Public Utilities, NW Natural, and Energy Trust of Oregon. Check out Planet Clark for information about weatherization, indoor air quality, and how kids can be energy detectives.

    Clark Public Utilities

    Clark Public Utilities has a wealth of information on conserving energy. Looking for ways to cut your monthly energy costs? Let their online home energy calculator do the math for you! It's fast and it's free. If the daily usage shown on your bill has increased quite a bit over the same time period as last year, start your investigation here. Schedule an energy counselor visit to help assess and analyze your home energy use. Spend time perusing their extensive energy saving tips for heating, water heating, in the kitchen, doing laundry, lighting, and cooling your home.

    Bonneville Power Administration

    For 30 years, the Northwest has been a leader in treating energy efficiency and conservation as a power resource. The Northwest Power Act of 1980 called on the Northwest to give energy conservation top priority in meeting its power needs, and the region quickly learned that a megawatt saved is the equivalent of a megawatt produced. Bonneville provides effective energy saving tips on their website, including lighting, energy star appliances, electronics, heat pump water heaters, showerheads, weatherization, ductless heat pumps, and more!

    Energy Efficient Improvements

    Improving the energy efficiency of your home has the added benefit of saving you money for heating and cooling as well as making your home a healthier place to live.

    Weatherization assistance

    Home weatherization benefits homeowners, landlords and tenants by installing cost effective measures for energy conservation and address health and safety concerns.

    Eligibility for home weatherization assistance is determined by the number of people living in the household and income levels. Eligible low-income households receive the energy audit and energy saving measures installed free of charge.

    Housing Preservation

    The Housing Preservation programs assist low-income households with home maintenance repairs, including weatherization, home energy assistance and modifications for increased energy-efficiency.

    Education

    If you would like a home energy efficiency presentation for your community group or organization, or the Energy Detectives training program at your school, contact Mike Selig at mike.selig@clark.wa.gov or (360) 397-2375 ext. 4540.

  • Pet Waste Q&A

    Common Questions

    Why can't I just let poop break down into the soil?

    Rain runoff can carry contaminants to nearby streams through storm drains and ditches. Also, pathogens may remain even after the solids have dissolved.

    Can I bury it or put it in my compost bin?

    Under no circumstances should you put pet waste in your compost, or bury it where food will be grown or areas close to surface or ground water.

    Can I flush it down the toilet?

    Flushing pet waste down the toilet is not recommended. Few private septic systems are equipped to properly process dog waste. Municipal sewer systems can be blocked by especially large droppings and may be unable to break down elements in dog waste. The harmful organism, toxoplasma gondii, found in cat waste and potentially dangerous to children, elderly, and pregnant women, may be able to survive the municipal waste treatment process.

    If it’s important, why doesn’t everyone pick it up?

    There are hundreds of perceived reasons for not picking up dog poop, but when it comes down to it, keeping our families, our water resources, and our habitats healthy are more important than any of them.

    I have a cat — does this go for me too?

    Because of how much time cats spend outdoors on their own, we don't expect you to go running around picking up after them every time they do their business. For cats that use litter boxes, though, we recommend that the litter be properly disposed of — which means not flushing it down the toilet or dumping it in the backyard (or over the fence). Cat litter should be tossed in the garbage, right next to those bags of dog doo.

    How can I talk to my neighbors about picking up after their pets?

    We know how much of a strain it can be on neighborhood relations to find surprises in your front yard &mdash especially when they’re not from your own dog! Likewise, it can be frustrating when you don’t feel like your kids can go play outside without coming back with poo on their shoes. For these reasons, and others, the Clean Water Program has introduced Neighbors for Clean Water — a toolkit of resources and information to help you talk to your neighbors about increasing the scoop-rate in your community and making it a safer and healthier place for your family, other pets, and the environment.

    Why not pick up the poo?

    If Your Reason Is:Think About:
    My dog is small and so is his doo. Waste from almost 110,000 dogs in Clark County adds up— and that includes big dogs, small dogs, and everything in between.
    No need to pick it up. It will eventually just go away. Even though the solids may dissolve, pathogens and other contaminants can be washed into the nearest storm drain or waterway. Even if it does eventually decompose, the pathogens it carries may not go away for several years— they can make you and your children sick. For more details, visit our page on harmful bacteria.
    I’m not always prepared. Tie bags onto your dog’s leash or keep them by the door. Many parks also have pet-waste bag kiosks.
    It’s in my own yard— it's not going anywhere. When it rains, runoff carries what starts in your yard down the curb to the nearest storm drain or ditch where it goes untreated into our water.
    I just dont have time and its dark when I get home. Yes, time is a real issue. Poo patrol is probably not high on anyone’s list of fun things to do after a hard day at work. All we can say is do the best you can. Ideally, you can keep a flashlight and plastic bags by the back door so you'll be ready when Fido is. If that doesn’t work for you, try to pick it up daily, or every couple days, or even once a week. Just remember, if you pick it up more often, it won’t be such a huge chore. (And think of how clean your shoes will stay!)
    Its more natural to leave it there. Wild animals have been here for years. No watershed is naturally prepared to accommodate the amount of waste produced by domesticated dogs. The number of wolves which would naturally inhabit an area the size of Clark County would be around 70— compare that to the 109,867 dogs living here now! That number of dogs is equivalent to that of a city of more than 27,000 people— imagine if all of those people were using their backyards as bathrooms!

    Did you know...

    • The average dog leaves 23 piles of poop weekly.
    • The weight of dog poop in Clark County each year is equivalent to the weight of 37 Boeing 747s.
    • Dog poop is a major food source for rats.

    Related Articles

  • Posters & resources

  • Talking to neighbors

    Neighbors for Clean Water (NCW)

    NCW is a program administered by the Clark County Clean Water program, designed to make it as easy as possible for residents around Clark County to confront the problem of pet waste in their neighborhoods. The program is an extension of Clark County Canines for Clean Water, which helps people learn about the benefits of scooping the poop.

    Tips for talking to neighbors about pet waste

    • Put up a sign in a problem spot
    • Institute a weekly "Pick-up Day"
    • Set up a public bag dispenser

    Resources

    flyershadowweb

    To request signs and brochures, please contact sally.fisher@clark.wa.gov.

    Resources and materials only available for residents of unincorporated Clark County. Supplies are limited.

  • Community Gardens

    Clark County manages the community gardens at Pacific Park in East Vancouver. All of the plots are rented out annually and gardeners are required to use natural gardening practices (no herbicide, pesticide, etc.).

    All plots are full for the 2017 garden season. Please check back to this site in late 2017 for information about 2018 rentals. For more information please email us at communitygarden@clark.wa.gov.

    Natural Gardens at Pacific Community Park

    NE 18th St & NE 172nd Ave

    Vancouver, WA 98684

     

    Related articles: Natural Garden Tours | Composting

    community gardens pacific park article