Eco-Friendly Portland

We are very lucky to live in an environmentally-conscious city such as Portland. Here are just a few things that Portland is doing to make an eco-friendly change!

We are very lucky to live in an environmentally-conscious city such as Portland. Here are just a few things that Portland is doing to make an eco-friendly change!


The “Ditch the Straw” movement is taking off in Portland!

At least a dozen restaurants in Portland have joined this movement that aims to lower the use of plastic straws in the city. “According to ocean and beach preservation organization Surfrider Foundation, plastic straws are often cited as one of the top 10 contributors to marine pollution. This kind of plastic pollution can lead to toxic chemicals leeching into waterways, in turn contaminating water supplies for human.”-Eater Portland

Since plastic straws never break down, they will remain in the ocean and in the environment interminably. They are very hazardous to sea creatures and even to humans in the long run because of the water pollution they cause. Phil Schlieder, with the Surfrider Foundation (#DitchTheStrawPDX) also headed the campaign to eliminate plastic bags in Portland.

Urban Works is excited to see some of the restaurants that we’ve worked with on the list, and pledge to be more conscious of our own straw usage.

View the full (and continuously growing) list here!

Starting on March 16th of this year, developers have stricter laws regarding trees in the city.

Amendments to Title 11 and results for customers summarized below:

  • Trees are subject to PCC 11.50, Trees in Development Situations only if ground disturbance impacts the Root Protection Zone of at least one regulated tree.
  • Removal of trees through a development permit is no longer allowed if no regulated tree faces and impact by the development. 
  • Existing trees must still be shown on the site plan for all development permits to document tree sizes, species and resulting root protections zones, unless there are no Private Trees 12 inches or greater, no City Trees six inches or greater, no Street Trees three inches or greater, and the Tree Density requirements do not apply. 

Why is this important? 

Due to recent public concern about large trees being removed in development situations in Portland neighborhoods, amendments to Title 11, Trees, are proposed to strengthen regulations pertaining to tree preservation, especially preservation of large sized trees, in development situations. The proposed amendments aim to:

  1. Revise the mitigation requirement (payment into the Tree Planting and Preservation Fund) for trees removed to be based on the size of the tree removed. Currently, the same mitigation is required for all trees removed regardless of size. 
  2. Add a notification requirement when trees of a certain size are removed. 

Visit the City of Portland Website to learn more.

If you are interested in the preservation and growth of trees in/around Portland, check out these programs!

Friends of Trees: Works with volunteers to plant trees at low cost to homeowners.

Learning Landscapes: PP&R Urban Forestry’s Learning Landscape program helps students plant trees at their schools.

Environmental Services Tree Program: Works with community partners to plant trees for stormwater management.

Treebate: Allows homeowners to apply for a refund on their sewer bill when they plant a tree on their property. This program is funded by the Bureau of Environmental Services

Our friendly neighbors over at Beam Development serve as a great example for what all businesses/companies can strive to be like. Not only do they develop incredible LEED certified buildings and incorporate Ecoroofs (a living, breathing vegetated roof system that saves energy, reduces pollution and erosion, absorbs carbon dioxide and filters air pollutants) into their buildings, they also practice green-techniques within their own office. They make a constant push to recycle properly and frequently, and also compost everything possible. Merri Compton, Executive Coordinator and Office Manager at Beam, has many years of experience with recycling and teaching others how to properly do so. Before Beam, she helped 60+ of her coworkers learn how to recycle correctly. Many of whom were from all over the country, and not accustomed to Portland’s way of recycling; even people from the outer rings in Oregon aren’t familiar with it! She quoted, “It really takes a bunch of baby steps. Just like with anything, the more you do it, the better you get at it. Soon it becomes second nature. I just want to do my part to save the world for generations after me, and for my grandchildren.” She says that it would be easy for any company to compost, and be more successful recyclers.

In our own office, we do our best to learn from Merri: we try to limit our paper use as much as possible, and recycle it when we are done. We make sure to rinse everything out before recycling, follow the plastic recycling chart to make sure our plastics are going in the correct place, use compostable straws, etc. Just like Merri says, all it takes are some baby steps to get better at making the planet a more sustainable place!

Check out HopWorks’s “Do What You Can” page to find out some other ways to reduce your impact on the planet!


We thought it would be helpful to attach some charts that make recycling SO much easier!