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.

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Contact Details

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Water usage

  • Bathroom

     

    Bathroom Vent

    The average American, according to www.planetclark.com, spends over 90% of their time indoors. To each their own, you may say, but here is something you may not know: indoor air quality can be five times more polluted than outdoor.

    As the home becomes more airtight and energy efficient, it needs more effective ventilation to circulate fresh air. Each house traps potentially harmful chemicals like urea formaldehyde or vinyl and other harmful pollutants like mold and dust.

    In the bathroom, where excessive moisture easily accumulates, ventilation is especially pertinent. Be sure to run your bathroom exhaust for 10 to 20 minutes after taking a shower. And if you see anything growing that shouldn’t be there, wipe it out with bio-based cleaning products, which won’t affect the secluded bathroom air as much as many scented products.

    Medications

    Your meds are not meant to be flushed down the drain! They ultimately end up back in the waterways, and they will harm your health and harm your local environment.

    Non-controlled substances can be taken to local participating transfer stations, pharmacies, and physicians. Controlled substances can be taken to participating sheriff or police departments. For more information and to find out where exactly you can bring your medications, visit our Unwanted Medication Disposal page.

    Toothpaste

    It is possible to make your own toothpaste from recipes found online or in books at your local library. Or you can just use baking soda. Check with your dentist office to see if they have any suggestions.

    Deodorant

    Your deodorant can contain harmful ingredients, such as aluminum or phthalates. One way to avoid these conventional deodorants is to buy green. Check your local natural food store for better choices or you can try making your own with recipes found online.

    Shaving

    First off, quit fooling around with those disposable razors. Instead, get a razor that will last you a long time. There are many options to choose from at your local department store.

    It is also possible to make your own shaving cream. Google recipes online and give it a try!

    Green Cleaning Supplies

    Get yourself some hydrogen peroxide, white vinegar, and borax powder. These basic products can make a world of natural cleaning supplies that are effective and not harmful to the environment. Download Clark County’s book of green cleaning recipes to get started!

    Soap and Shampoo

    There are a couple ways to sustainably get at your essential soap and shampoo needs. Simply, you could go out and buy bulk shampoo and conditioner, which gets you the most bang for the buck. BUT, you could also make your own soap and shampoo! There are lots of recipes online or at your local craft store so check them out and see how you like it!

    Sink

    Two words: faucet aerator. It’ll cut down on your water use while you do the same. That means not letting the water run while you brush your teeth and filling the basin with water when you shave.

    Toilet

    The bathroom is the largest consumer of indoor water — the toilet alone can use 27 percent of household water. Make sure your toilet is a high efficiency model, which uses less than 1.3 gallons per flush. That’s 60% to 80% less than most toilets!

    Check out dual flush toilets, which include two buttons or handles to flush different levels of water. Dual flush toilets use up to 67% less water than conventional toilets.

    If you don’t plan on getting a new toilet anytime soon, you can reduce your water use with a little gumption. Use a brick or any other similar sized durable object, and place it gently in the tank above your toilet. This will reduce the flow by decreasing the reservoir size.

    And believe it or not, you can reuse toilet paper. No… it’s not as nasty as it sounds! Buy recycled rolls of paper. Statistics have come out that say if we replaced just one roll of virgin fiber toilet paper roll with 100% recycled t.p., we could save 423,900 trees. That’s a lot of trees for such a small, stinkin’ action.

    Bathtub/Shower

    A ten minute shower uses as much as 60 gallons of water! It is simple enough to lessen your shower time and save water. For instance, doing a “navy shower”–wherein one rinses, turns off the water and lathers, and rinses again—can use as little as 3 gallons of water. As the Navy would say, stop being so “Hollywood” with your showers!

    Also, make sure your showerhead is equipped with a low-flow aerator. Along with your new showering style, you’ll be shipshape in no time!

    • Bathroom Vent

      The average American, according to www.planetclark.com, spends over 90% of their time indoors. To each their own, you may say, but here is something you may not know: indoor air quality can be five times more polluted than outdoor.

      As the home becomes more airtight and energy efficient, it needs more effective ventilation to circulate fresh air. Each house traps potentially harmful chemicals like urea formaldehyde or vinyl and other harmful pollutants like mold and dust.

      In the bathroom, where excessive moisture easily accumulates, ventilation is especially pertinent. Be sure to run your bathroom exhaust for 10 to 20 minutes after taking a shower. And if you see anything growing that shouldn’t be there, wipe it out with bio-based cleaning products, which won’t affect the secluded bathroom air as much as many scented products.

    • Medications

      Your meds are not meant to be flushed down the drain! They ultimately end up back in the waterways, and they will harm your health and harm your local environment.

      Non-controlled substances can be taken to local participating transfer stations, pharmacies, and physicians. Controlled substances can be taken to participating sheriff or police departments. For more information and to find out where exactly you can bring your medications, visit our Unwanted Medication Disposal page.

    • Toothpaste

      It is possible to make your own toothpaste from recipes found online or in books at your local library. Or you can just use baking soda. Check with your dentist office to see if they have any suggestions.

    • Deodorant

      Your deodorant can contain harmful ingredients, such as aluminum or phthalates. One way to avoid these conventional deodorants is to buy green. Check your local natural food store for better choices or you can try making your own with recipes found online.

    • Shaving

      First off, quit fooling around with those disposable razors. Instead, get a razor that will last you a long time. There are many options to choose from at your local department store.

      It is also possible to make your own shaving cream. Google recipes online and give it a try!

    • Green Cleaning Supplies

      Get yourself some hydrogen peroxide, white vinegar, and borax powder. These basic products can make a world of natural cleaning supplies that are effective and not harmful to the environment. Download Clark County’s book of green cleaning recipes to get started!

    • Soap and Shampoo

      There are a couple ways to sustainably get at your essential soap and shampoo needs. Simply, you could go out and buy bulk shampoo and conditioner, which gets you the most bang for the buck. BUT, you could also make your own soap and shampoo! There are lots of recipes online or at your local craft store so check them out and see how you like it!

    • Sink

      Two words: faucet aerator. It’ll cut down on your water use while you do the same. That means not letting the water run while you brush your teeth and filling the basin with water when you shave.

    • Toilet

      The bathroom is the largest consumer of indoor water — the toilet alone can use 27 percent of household water. Make sure your toilet is a high efficiency model, which uses less than 1.3 gallons per flush. That’s 60% to 80% less than most toilets!

      Check out dual flush toilets, which include two buttons or handles to flush different levels of water. Dual flush toilets use up to 67% less water than conventional toilets.

      If you don’t plan on getting a new toilet anytime soon, you can reduce your water use with a little gumption. Use a brick or any other similar sized durable object, and place it gently in the tank above your toilet. This will reduce the flow by decreasing the reservoir size.

      And believe it or not, you can reuse toilet paper. No… it’s not as nasty as it sounds! Buy recycled rolls of paper. Statistics have come out that say if we replaced just one roll of virgin fiber toilet paper roll with 100% recycled t.p., we could save 423,900 trees. That’s a lot of trees for such a small, stinkin’ action.

    • Bathtub/Shower

      A ten minute shower uses as much as 60 gallons of water! It is simple enough to lessen your shower time and save water. For instance, doing a “navy shower”–wherein one rinses, turns off the water and lathers, and rinses again—can use as little as 3 gallons of water. As the Navy would say, stop being so “Hollywood” with your showers!

      Also, make sure your showerhead is equipped with a low-flow aerator. Along with your new showering style, you’ll be shipshape in no time!

    • Environmental Calculators

      We found some great resources that will help you measure your impact on our environment, and discover energy and cost saving information.

    • You can help

      We all play a role in keeping those waters clean in our everyday actions at home, work, school and play. Simple stewardship actions can help keep pollution from reaching our waterways. In Clark County, our stormwater drains go directly to stormwater facilities or the creeks themselves. It is important to realize what could get into a storm drain, besides rain water. Learn more to make sure your everyday actions are protecting our watershed. 

      Read more

      clean water help article

      Pick up pet waste

      Pet waste left on the ground can be washed into storm drains that lead directly to our streams and wetlands. This waste carries harmful bacteria, which can affect the health of aquatic wildlife, ourselves and our children.

      More resources

      Fix auto leaks

      If you see discoloration (like a rainbow) in the water running down the street during a rainstorm, there is pollution up stream. Check your vehicle for leaks and get it fixed. When your car leaks fluids, it is often a sign of a larger problem that can lead to major engine damage and possibly an expensive repair bill.

      Oil and other vehicle fluids from cars are toxic. Fix your leak so that vehicle fluids don’t end up in puddles where kids and pets like to play!

      Vehicles drip millions of quarts of motor oil into the Columbia River basin every year. Oil and other petroleum products can harm wildlife and habitat. When it rains, stormwater runoff carries pollution to creeks, streams and rivers.

      Only rain down the drain

      In your neighborhood, streets drain downhill to a storm drain. These drains are connected to pipes that carry the water to a local creek, stream or river. It is important to remember that we need to keep all contaminants and pollution OUT of the storm drains.

      Make sure you properly dispose of waste materials like paint or motor oil. Many of these items can be recycled or reused. Also keep soaps, herbicides and pesticides out of water by following directions on the product labels and not using on hard surfaces that can wash to the drain.

      Help educate your neighbors by volunteering to mark a message on your neighborhood’s drain “Protect Water – Only Rain in Drain.” Clark County loans out stencil kits for free! These are a great community service, school or scout project.

      Water wise farms

      If you are a small acreage or farm property owner, there are number of steps you can take to protect the health of your property and your watershed. Our partner at WSU Extension hosts workshops on topics to benefit your property, such as understand your soils, managing stormwater runoff and tips for healthy animals.

      Your landscape is part of the solution

      Everyone loves a lush lawn, beautiful plants and a healthy hard for you to call home. There are lots of great ideas to help you protect stormwater runoff from pollution while creating your dream landscape. Learn about Grasscycling, use of native plants, healthy plant care, gardening tips, and water conservation techniques.

    • How to conserve

       

      First, it’s helpful to understand the 3 categories of water and then consider how you can conserve, save, and waste less:

      1. Blue water is fresh water from lakes, rivers, and sub-surface water or groundwater.
      2. Green water is rain which falls directly on crops.
      3. Greywater is water generated from domestic activities such as laundry, dishwashing, and bathing. It may contain traces of dirt, food, grease, and certain household cleaning products. While greywater may look “dirty,” it is usually safe to be recycled or reused for uses such as landscape irrigation and constructed wetlands.

      A note on bottled water: drinking bottled water itself doesn’t negatively affect our fresh water supplies. But, we should be aware that to manufacture the plastic bottle, 6.74 times the amount of the water in the bottle is used. Not to mention the other energy and resources used and the fact that 86 percent of water bottles end up in landfills!

      When looking at your own water use, begin by observing how much you waste. Do you have a leak in a faucet or a shower head that drips? That leaky faucet or shower could be losing almost 14 percent of the total water you use.

      Some no and low-cost tips for saving water inside your home:

      Dishes

      • Run your dishwasher only when it’s full.
      • Don’t run water continuously when washing dishes by hand. The average dishwasher uses about 10 gallons of water per load. Washing the same number of dishes by hand takes about 16 gallons. Newer, efficient dishwashers use as little as 5 gallons per cycle, which means they also consume less energy to heat the water.

      Faucets

      • Fix leaky faucets immediately. A leaky faucet, dripping once per second, wastes six gallons of water a day.
      • Install low-flow aerators on every faucet.
      • Don’t leave the water running when brushing your teeth or shaving. With the tap running at full force, shaving takes 20 gallons of water, teeth-brushing takes 10 and hand-washing takes two.

      Bath & Laundry

      • Wash only full loads of laundry, or use the proper water level setting for your load size.
      • Take shorter showers and use less water in your bath. A full bathtub requires about 36 gallons of water. A five-minute shower using a water-conserving showerhead will use just 15 to 25 gallons. Showers and baths account for one-third of most families’ water use.

      Toilets

      • Don’t use the toilet as a wastebasket. Each flush wastes water.
      • Check toilets for leaks.
      • Did you know 30 percent of your indoor water is used flushing the toilet? Your older toilet could be using way more than the new low flush toilet. If your older toilet flushes 3.5 gallons per flush, one person can use as much as 7,135 gallons per year just to flush a toilet. But, if you have a toilet that flushes 1.0 gallons per flush, one person can consume as little as 1,928 gallons per year. These “improved” toilets rely on an efficient bowl design and increased flushing velocity — instead of extra water — to remove wastes. If you’re thinking about making the switch, get recommendations about the best models from retailers and plumbers who have installed or used low-volume toilets.

      If you’re willing to invest a little money to use less water, consider installing water-efficient toilets, faucets and showerheads.

      For more information about water conservation, check out the Home Water Works website. It’s packed full of good tips and resources.

    • Home Assessments

      Use our home assessment forms to conduct Green Audits around your house! First, download the pdf for each assessment from the green box on the right. After you’ve completed each assessment, come back and click on the corresponding button below to report your results to us online. This info will help us provide better resources and tips for you in the future!

    • Water use & management

      Water, Water Everywhere

      More than 70% of the earth’s surface is covered by water but only 3% is considered fresh water. And of the available fresh water on the earth’s surface, only 3/10 of 1% is readily available for consumption. Because water is not something that we can produce, it is important to protect the quantity and quality of our existing supply. How we manage water in our yards is important to the future for our health, our children, and the planet.

      Read more

      nbb conserving water article

      Ways to conserve water:

      Reduce Traditional Lawn

      If you must have lawn, choose a drought tolerant type such as Rhizomatous Tall Fescue (RTF) or Rough & Ready or Fleur de Lawn (see all of ProTime’s eco lawns) to name just a few. Read more about lawn alternatives and lawn care in our Information Archive.

      Plant Trees & Shrubs

      Both trees and shrubs require significantly less water than do perennials and turf grass.

      Use Rain Garden Plants

      If you want to really conserve, choose rain garden plants. These can be trees, shrubs or perennials. Because they are riparian plants, they thrive in rain gardens.They well-tolerate periods of both excessive wetness and also excessive dryness. Check out the Rain Garden section of the Water Use & Management Information Archive for plant lists that are included in the how-to documents.

      Ways to manage stormwater run-off:

      Install Rain Gardens

      They are a really great way of keeping stormwater run-off on your property so it can be absorbed into the soil there. Benefit one is that it waters your plants. Benefit two is that is keeps the stormwater out of the storm system where it quite often results in erosion and pollution of waterways.

      Plant Densely

      In most forests there is very little erosion because the forest is covered almost completely with plants. The roots of all those plants pierce the soil and provide holes for rainwater to flow into to be absorbed by the soil. The rain water can either be held by the soil, or used by plants immediately, or it can continue flowing through the soil into an underground stream or aquifer. One way or another, the flow is slowed, and this gives the ecosystem a chance to use the water rather than the water running off into the streams or sewer systems.

      Use Terracing

      This is a method of slowing down the flow of water on a slope. The angle slope is transformed into a sort of stair steps; flat then drop then flat then drop. Terracing is a good choice when the slope is too steep for plants to grow on it.

      Learn more

      Explore the entire Information Archive

    • Drinking water

      Residents of Clark County obtain drinking water through public or private water systems.

      • Private water systems (i.e., individual wells) supply drinking water to 24% of Clark County residents which is about 31,000 systems servicing 93,000 people.
      • The majority of residents (75%) are served by large public water systems which include the large municipal systems. The vast majority of our water in Clark County comes from four underground aquifers, which are tapped by wells.
      • The City of Vancouver is the fourth largest provider of drinking water in the state of Washington, serving up 8.95 billion gallons to more than 200,000 people, all provided from groundwater sources. The City of Camas sources water from both surface and groundwater. In addition to 8 wells, water is drawn from Boulder and Jones Creeks. In addition, the City of Battle Ground, the City of Ridgefield, and the City of Washougal each provide water services for those communities and Clark Public Utilities provides public water services throughout most other areas of the community.

      Here is a pdfcross-section of the hydro-geologic structures in Clark County. For more information, call Clark Public Utilities at 360-992-8023.