Sustainable CLE: A conscious Clevelander's resource guide for living green

According to a 2019 Gallup poll, the majority of Americans are worried about our environment—with 47% “a great deal” concerned and 27% a “fair amount.” The good news is that helping save the Earth doesn’t have to feel helpless. With the help of Sustainable Cleveland, we’ve compiled a list of top tips that can help conscious Clevelanders go a brighter shade of green at home, at work, and in their daily routines.

Get empowered with these local resources and best practices in categories like Local Food, Zero Waste, Clean Water, Sustainable Transportation, and Energy—and find out how you can further Cleveland's vision of becoming a "Thriving Green City on a Blue Lake."



Get your fruits and veggies through a local community-supported agriculture (CSA) program. Say goodbye to your grocery store's produce section, and hello to a local CSA program (like the one at Ohio City Farm, for instance). CSA Deliciousness from the Kamm's Corners Farmers Marketprograms are basically like bringing the farmers market to your doorstep—allowing conscious consumers to support local farmers and share in their delicious harvest. Not sure where to start? publishes an annual CSA directory.

Check out Cool Cleveland’s farmers market directory to find out where you can score fresh food and farm finds throughout Northeast Ohio.


Get your green thumb on. The city of Cleveland offers numerous programs to support gardeners, including Gardening for Greenbacks and Summer Sprout. The former is designed to assist budding urban farmers, while the latter helps empower people who want to join, start, or maintain a community garden.


Drink Local Drink Tap beach cleanupZERO WASTE / CLEAN WATER

Beautify our beaches. Since 2010, Drink Local Drink Tap’s beach cleanups have diverted a collective 6,861 pounds of trash from local beaches. This summer, the nonprofit has hosted 10 beach cleanups—with two still yet to come on Saturday, Aug. 31, and Saturday, Sept. 28 at Perkins Beach in Edgewater Park. Find out how to join the cleanup crew here.

Skip the straw. A simple “No, thanks” could make a big difference. Join the “Skip the Straw” movement by refusing straws at restaurants and only requesting them when absolutely necessary. Learn more about the movement here.

Get educated on how to dispose of household hazardous waste and recycle responsibly at home.


Take the PUP pledge. Part of Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District’s (NEORSD) aptly named “Pick Up Poop!” campaign, the “PUP Pledge” reminds dog lovers to help keep Cleveland’s watersheds and waterways free of harmful bacteria. Take the pledge here and snag a free dog bandanna. (And, remember, #DogsCan’tFlush.)

Participate in a rain barrel workshop. The city of Cleveland offers free rain barrel workshops to help residents do their part in reducing stormwater runoff (and save money on water bills in the process). All participants receive rain barrel systems free of charge. Plus, it's a win-win: NEORSD offers a 25% Individual Residential Property credit to citizens who implement sewer district-approved stormwater control measures like rain barrels and rain gardens.


Host a zero-waste event (defined as any event that diverts 90% or more of its nonhazardous waste from the landfill by recycling and composting). Psst! Calling all event planners: You’ll want to bookmark these helpful checklists and event planning guides for hosting a zero-waste event (whether it’s a backyard BBQ or a major music festival).


Consider public transpo. Did you know that the annual cost to own and operate a vehicle is more than $8,500 (or 57 cents per mile), according to AAA? Save your dough and consider riding the RTA during your daily routine, as a monthly pass for the bus/Rapid/BRT costs just $1,140 for the year. This handy trip planner can help you get started.

Commute smarter. Resources like GOhio Commute can help you pinpoint the most efficient commute route and connect with others in your orbit for carpooling. The site also allows users to track their impact and see how their trips affect the local Silver Spokesenvironment.

Go for a spin with Bike Cleveland or Ohio City Cycles, or get reacquainted with biking as a senior with initiatives like Silver Spokes.

Make your business transpo-friendly. Business owners can do their part by taking advantage of programs like RTA’s Commuter Advantage (which enables companies to share RTA discounts with their employees, saving an average of $354 per person annually), while the Bike League invites businesses to get on board by becoming a Bicycle-Friendly Business.


Let there be light. Did you know that Cleveland has more solar installs per capita than sunnier spots like Houston, Atlanta, and Charlotte? Find out how you can join this growing group with this helpful guide to going solar provided by the city of Cleveland. Neighborhoods can also get in on the action by forming a solar co-op together and taking advantage of bulk discounts.

Home solar installation in ClevelandMake your home more energy-efficient. Taking part in the Cleveland Energy$aver program can help homeowners save at least $300 per year on their energy bills. (Take that, HVAC!) Packages may include attic or crawl space insulation; air sealing of gaps and cracks where energy escapes; LED light bulbs that save more than 50% over traditional bulbs; and smart thermostats. 

Another awesome resource is the CHN Housing Partners Weatherization Program, which provides access to free home insulation, energy-efficient appliances, plumbing repairs, and more.

Green your business with COSE. The Council of Smaller Enterprises offers businesses free energy assessments that can help save up to 30% on operating costs, as well as consultations on natural gas and electric bills. Other options include green leases, energy-efficient financing, and interest rate reductions for energy-efficient projects. Learn more about all of it here.

This story is part of a dedicated series titled "People, Planet, Progress: A Decade of Sustainable Cleveland" in partnership with Sustainable Cleveland. Read the rest of the stories in the series here

Read more articles by Jen Jones Donatelli.

As an enthusiastic CLE-vangelist, Jen Jones Donatelli enjoys diving headfirst into her work with FreshWater Cleveland. Upon moving back to Cleveland after 16 years in Los Angeles, Jen served as FreshWater's managing editor for two years (2017-2019) and continues her work with the publication as a contributing editor and host of the FreshFaces podcast. When not typing the day away at her laptop, she teaches writing and creativity classes through her small business Creative Groove, as well as Literary Cleveland, Cleveland State University, and more. Jen is a proud graduate of Ohio University's E.W. Scripps School of Journalism.