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Sustainable DC
Built Environment

Go Green

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Through surveys and community listening sessions, District residents said they would like to know more about how to “go green” to make the District a healthier, greener, and more livable place. Below are actions with resources to help you “go green,” which are listed based on how much effort, financial resources, and infrastructure are required to implement them. Click on the plus sign next to each action to learn more.

What are the top five actions you can take on this month?

Maximize Use of Recreational Spaces

  • Visit local trails, parks, and waterways.
  • Participate in health and fitness activities at your community recreation center.
  • Participate in walking or biking clubs in your community.
Resource and Link Description
Department of Parks and Recreation Programs The Department of Parks and Recreation offers free, year-round programs and activities for all ages. You can sign up for dance classes, after school programs, gardening classes, and more.
Find a Facility Use maps from the Department of Parks and Recreation to find your local fitness center, playground, or recreation center, all of which are free for District residents to use.
Find a Park Use maps from the Department of Parks and Recreation to find local and national parks in the District.

Sustainable DC Topic(s): Sustainable DC Topic(s):

Conserve Energy

  • Use only as much energy as you need by turning off lights, unplugging unused devices, using power strips that only provide electricity to devices that are turned on, and setting your thermostat lower in winter and higher in summer.
  • Implement energy-saving actions like sealing windows and insulating doors.
  • Identify opportunities to reduce energy for your home by reviewing your electric bill and getting an energy audit.
  • Use energy efficient appliances and other products by choosing those with a blue ENERGY STAR label.
  • Use clean sources of energy, such as solar or wind, to power your home.
Resource and Link Description
DC Power Connect


If you pay a utility bill, you can choose where your energy comes from! The DC Power Connect website provided through the Public Service Commission of the District of Columbia helps District residents compare and choose energy supply options.
DC Sustainable Energy Utility


The DC Sustainable Energy Utility helps District residents save energy and money by providing cash back for energy-efficient appliances and offering products that save energy.


Use the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s website to find products that can help you save energy if they have the blue ENERGY STAR label.
Solar for All


Solar for All is a program that helps low- to moderate-income District families use clean energy through installations of solar panels on single family homes and community solar projects that benefit renters and residents who live in multi-family buildings.
Weatherization Assistance Program


The Department of Energy and Environment’s Weatherization Assistance Program helps reduce energy bills for income-eligible residents by making their homes more energy efficient.

Sustainable DC Topic(s): 

Conserve Water

  • Use only as much water as you need by turning it off when you’re not using it, speeding up shower times, and washing clothes and dishes with full loads.
  • Use water efficient products such as low flow shower heads, faucets, and toilets.
  • Improve stormwater management around your home by installing rain barrels, native trees, and rain gardens.
Resource and Link Description
RiverSmart Homes The RiverSmart Homes program offers incentives to homeowners interested in reducing pollution from stormwater (rainwater unable to soak into the ground) from their properties.
WaterSense Products Use the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s website to find products that can help you save water if they have the blue and green WaterSense label.

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Make the Most Out of All Materials

  • Reuse and repurpose materials by getting or giving away used items through yard sales, email lists, or websites.
  • Learn the District’s recycling guidelines and recycle whatever you can, including paint and electronics.
  • Dispose household hazardous waste responsibly, such as at special collection events or city waste transfer stations.
  • Compost food scraps instead of throwing them in the trash so they can be reused to grow new food.
Resource and Link Description
Reuse DC Reuse DC is the District's hub for learning where to repair, donate, and shop second-hand household items.
eCYCLE DC Residents can recycle the precious resources in electronics through collection events and drop-off sites.
Fix-It Clinics The Department of Energy and Environment coordinates events where residents can get guidance on repairing and reusing items.
Paint Stewardship Program Residents can drop off leftover paint for recycling and appropriate processing at specific paint stores in the District and drop-off events.
Zero Waste DC The Department of Public Works Zero Waste DC initiative provides resources and information for residents on which farmers markets accept food scraps for composting, organizations where residents can buy or donate used items, a searchable guide on how to recycle or dispose of commonly used items, and more.

Sustainable DC Topic(s): Food Waste

Protect Nature

  • Put items that are no longer usable in the appropriate waste or recycling bin and pick up litter when you see it.
  • Care for your home lawn or garden using natural, non-harmful fertilizers and pest control methods.
  • Plant a variety of trees and native plants that benefit pollinators and help your neighbors do the same by sharing native seeds, plants, tools, and information.
  • Participate in stream clean-ups and restoration projects.
Resource and Link Description
Adopt Your District Through the Adopt a Block, Adopt a Park, or Adopt a Stream programs, residents can commit to keeping their environments clean and enjoyable.
Native and Invasive Pollinator Plants The Department of Energy and Environment has a list of native and invasive pollinator plants to help residents decide what to grow.
Rooting DC Rooting DC is a free annual event and online resource where local urban gardeners share information and learn from one another.
Sustainable DC Volunteers The Sustainable DC volunteer program provides volunteer opportunities with local organizations, which often include clean-ups and restoration projects.
Urban Garden Education Program The Department of Parks and Recreation offers free workshops and courses focused on practical urban gardening skills and environmental stewardship.

Sustainable DC Topic(s): 

Participate in Local Sustainability Programs

  • Sign up to receive the Sustainable DC newsletter and stay up to date on programs that help District residents go green.
  • Attend sustainability events and activities in your community, such as a training on how to grow your own food, a neighborhood festival to learn about local wildlife, or an event to provide input on the future of the District.
  • Volunteer with Sustainable DC or other groups addressing environmental, equity, and economic issues and bring friends or neighbors with you.
Resource and Link Description
Serve DC The Mayor’s Office of Volunteerism and Partnerships is known as Serve DC, which manages service days, connects residents with meaningful volunteer opportunities, and establishes partnerships and collaboration.
Sustainable DC Newsletter The Sustainable DC newsletter is a monthly email with updates on progress on the Sustainable DC 2.0 Plan, District sustainability news, volunteering opportunities, upcoming events, and job opportunities.
Sustainable DC Volunteers The Sustainable DC volunteer program provides an opportunity for community members to get involved with Sustainable DC by volunteering for organizations that are advancing the goals of the Sustainable DC 2.0 Plan. Community members can sign up to receive emails with volunteer opportunities.

Sustainable DC Topic(s): 

Make Food Choices That Support the Local Economy and Prevent Food From Being Thrown Away

  • Avoid throwing away food through options such as planning meals ahead of time, learning how long foods last beyond listed “sell by” dates, and donating extra food to organizations that can use it.
  • Get food grown in or near the District (within 100 miles is best).
  • Support a community or school garden by helping with maintenance or hands-on learning.
Resource and Link Description
DC Food Recovery Working Group The DC Food Recovery Working Group has information and resources on how to avoid throwing food away, including a list of locations that accept food donations.
Department of Parks and Recreation Communal Farms Communal farms managed by the Department of Parks and Recreation provide ways for community members to receive free food, volunteer, and participate in hands-on educational opportunities.
Map of DC Farmers Markets This interactive map shows farmers markets that accept Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and other benefits such as Produce Plus Direct, which provides local, fresh produce to residents with limited access during the summer season.
Office of the State Superintendent of Education Shared Roots Program Shared Roots encourages District residents to grow food by connecting them to new food growing opportunities in schools, community gardens, and backyards.

Sustainable DC Topic(s): 

Change How You Get Around

  • Walk or roll (using a wheelchair, scooter, or bike) to your activities whenever possible.
  • When driving is the only option, turn off the engine while you’re parked. Unnecessary idling affects human health, creates pollution, and wastes fuel and money.
  • Promote safe travel by allowing plenty of space for people walking or rolling when you are driving or opening your car door.
  • Learn Metrorail and bus routes to get to your most frequent destinations and use public transit when walking or rolling are not feasible.
  • Carpool to work or school.
Resource and Link Description
Engine Idling Information The Department of Energy and Environment provides residents with information about the benefits of turning off car engines while parked and how to report if a commercial vehicle is breaking the District’s anti-idling law.
goDCgo goDCgo, a project of the District Department of Transportation, provides resources such as an overview of which transportation options provide discounts, information on biking in the District, instructions on getting started riding Metrorail, and tools to coordinate carpooling.
Sidewalk Repair Requests District residents can request sidewalk repair services by calling the Mayor's Citywide Call Center at 311 and (202) 727-1000, or by completing a service request online.

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Be a Green Consumer

  • Choose items with minimal, plastic-free packaging, or packaging that can be reused or recycled.
  • Use reusable products such as cloth bags when shopping, refillable water bottles, washable straws, and mesh bags to store fruits and vegetables in the refrigerator.
  • Use natural, non-harmful personal care products.
  • Shop at local green businesses, such as those listed in the Shop Local DC Directory.
Resource and Link Description
District of Columbia Sustainable Specifications The Office of Contracting and Procurement developed specifications certain products would need to meet to be considered sustainable purchases. Although they were developed to guide purchases made by District agencies, residents can also review the specifications and look for similar characteristics when purchasing products.
Shop Local DC Directory The Department of Small and Local Business Development manages the Shop Local DC Directory, which includes the option to search for local green businesses.
Zero Waste DC The Department of Public Works Zero Waste DC initiative provides residents with information on how to reduce waste when making purchases, including a directory of shops that have previously owned products.

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Be Prepared for Extreme Weather

  • Put together an emergency kit to keep your household safe during extreme weather.
  • Develop a preparedness plan and practice implementing it so your household knows what to do during extreme weather events.
  • Check how your home or renters insurance addresses damage from extreme weather and collect information that will be helpful for filing a claim, such as an inventory of your belongings.
Resource and Link Description
ReadyDC Emergency Kit Learn about the materials you need to include in an emergency kit to keep yourself and others in your household safe, using this list provided by the Homeland Security and Emergency Management Agency.
ReadyDC Family Emergency Plan Learn how to prepare for emergencies ahead of time using guidance provided by the Homeland Security and Emergency Management Agency. There are specific instructions for people with disabilities and seniors.

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