We all could use a little help when it comes to supporting the sustainability initiatives of our city. It’s easy to choose convenience over the environment. We are all guilty of forgetting a reusable mug but still buying that cup of coffee. But now, more than ever, our individual choices are shaping our future. Here at the Office of Sustainability, we’ve put together a handy guide for you to reach for when you’re wondering how you can help. Taking the eight visions laid out in Greenworks: A Vision for a Sustainable Philadelphia we developed these into actions, described in Greenworks on the Ground. Here are just a few of the many ways you can help us achieve our vision for a sustainable city.

1.Reduce food waste

One in seven Americans doesn’t know where their next meal will come from, while 52 million tons of food is sent to a landfill each year. The city is working hard make composting easier for everyone, but there is still a lot you can do to help like using all the food you buy and composting your scraps.

Make sure to eat all of the food you buy and use leftover scraps for stocks and soups. If you do have a few leftovers, compost them. Whether you build your own indoor compost bin or use a third party pick up service, composting prevents food waste from being sent to the landfill. And if you’ve designed your own composting bin that’s scalable, enter it into the Food Policy Advisory Council’s design competition! Lastly, if you have a garbage disposal in your sink, send everything (except fats, oils, and grease) down the drain! It gets turned into energy through the Philadelphia Water Department’s Biogas Cogeneration Facility.

2. Improve air quality in your home

There are some quick, easy, and fun ways to reduce indoor air pollutants in your home. Shopping for new houseplants is one of them. Houseplants can help filter harmful indoor air pollutants, leaving you with cleaner air to breathe. And reduce the use of toxic cleaners. Next time there is a spill, reach for baking soda and vinegar instead of bleach. Understanding common household pollutants can help improve your indoor air and reduce health risks.

indoor air pollution sources

Sources of indoor air pollution

3. Buy renewable energy

Buildings are the single-greatest sources of carbon pollution in Philadelphia. You can offset greenhouse gas emissions by supporting renewable energy suppliers. You have options in choosing who supplies your electricity, and you can choose a provider that provides up to 100% renewable energy. To be even more effective, buy locally. The Pennsylvania Public Utilities Commission’s PA Power Switch campaign can help you find renewable energy providers.

You can also save money on energy bills by reducing your energy consumption by weatherizing your home.

4. Protect our rivers from polluted stormwater

Reducing stormwater runoff keeps our rivers and streams clean while protecting our neighborhoods from flooding. Avoid showering or running your dishwasher or washing machine during rain storms to prevent sewer overflows. And sign up for Philadelphia Water Department’s Rain Check program to get a free barrel or a discounted downspout planter to help manage stormwater and beautify your home.

5. Love your park

Get outside and volunteer with a “Friends of” park group in your community. Joining a “Friends of” group is a great way to spend time with your neighbors while maintaining your local park. Find your group on the City’s resource page. If you can’t find your local park, or want to start your own “Friends of” Group, find out how with the Friends Group Toolkit.

6. Skip the car, take the bus (or bike)

Next time you are thinking about driving consider how you are affecting outdoor air quality. In 2015, Philadelphia had 16 unhealthy air quality days. Polluted air can lead to childhood asthma and makes our most vulnerable residents sick. It also contributes to climate change and destroys our natural environment.

You can help improve Philadelphia’s air by walking, biking, or taking SEPTA to your destination, by maintaining your car and limiting idling, and by considering vehicle emissions when purchasing a new car. Don’t own a bike? Check out Indego, Philadelphia’s bike sharing program.

7. Clean up your streets

If you’re sick of seeing trash on your streets and sidewalks, you can help by organizing and electing a Block Captain through the Philadelphia More Beautiful Committee. Block Captains receive access to resources that help them in organizing clean-ups days in their districts. Find out who your Block Captain is or consider becoming one!

8. Engage with Greenworks!

Follow and share Greenworks news on social media. Greenworks on the Ground is your resource to being engaged in our vision for a sustainable Philadelphia. There are many more simple ways you can get involved as an individual, a community, or an institution.  Check our Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for daily Greenworks on the Ground Tips. Sign up for our monthly newsletter by sending an email to sustainability@phila.gov. And check out our events calendar for lectures, volunteer activities, and other events where you can learn and meet others.

greenworks logo