Office of Environmental Policy & Sustainability - Community Report

Sustainability Semi-Annual Report Masthead

October 2019

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Upcoming Events

Orca Recovery Day | October 19, Various Locations | Conservation districts and partner organizations up and down the Puget Sound are hosting family-friendly, interactive events to keep local waterways clean for endangered Orca populations. Local activities include storm drain marking and getting your car’s oil checked.

Habitat Stewards Training | October 30 – November 23, Tahoma Audubon | Tacoma National Wildlife Federation is offering a 4-day program to transform participants into Certified Habitat Stewards. Topics covered include rain gardens, gardening for wildlife, noxious weeds, PNW ecology, and more!

Tacoma Green Drinks | Thursday, November 7, 6-9pm, Primo Grill | Join this fun and casual networking event where you can catch a different eco-friendly topic at a different bar in Tacoma every month. The November host is Nourish Pierce County.

Ongoing Programs

Sustainable Tacoma Commission | Meets every 4th Thursday, 4:30PM to 6:30PM, at the Tacoma Municipal Building, 747 Market St. Room 243 | Free and open to the public.

EnviroChallengers | The EnviroChallengers bring free, engaging, and high-quality environmental science lessons to public and private schools all around Tacoma. Available for second through eighth grade classrooms.

Sustainability Speaker Series Schedule a member of the OEPS team to present on a variety of sustainability topics for your organization or group. Call (253) 591-5172 to book.

Tacoma Green Living Guide | This interactive map features many of Tacoma’s resources and efforts toward more sustainable living. Find information about how to get around, where to find locally grown food, places to enjoy nature in the city, and more.

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The City of Tacoma EnviroHouse is a permanent model home showcasing green building and natural landscape ideas, materials and techniques to create a healthy home and planet.

Upcoming Workshops

Electric Vehicles: Why Now; What to Know
Saturday, October 19, 10:30 AM

DIY Energy Audits & Simple Solutions
Saturday, October 19, 1:30 PM

Holiday Wreath Making: How-to Demonstration
Saturday, November 9, 10:30 AM


EnviroShorts Learn about the City of Tacoma’s waste management resources.

Urban Green City of Tacoma’s sustainable highlights, from businesses to parks.

Tacoma Report Eco Archive of videos featuring the City of Tacoma’s green livability.

EnviroHouse How-To's Get the step by step on DIY sustainable projects you can do around the house.


OEPS NewsUrban Forestry Management Plan

Are you enjoying the new fall colors in our landscape? Leaves are turning yellow, orange, and purple in Tacoma’s urban forest - comprised of all the trees, shrubs, and other vegetation within parks, along streets, in private yards, on empty lots and in urban natural areas. Caring for Tacoma’s urban forest is an important part of growing a sustainable, healthy and vibrant city, and our Urban Forestry team is currently gathering input to determine a vision for our tree canopy’s future.

The second Urban Forest Management Plan Public Meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, October 22 from 6:30-8:00 p.m. at the Eastside Community Center, 1721 E 56th St. Hear an update on the UFMP project, provide feedback on next steps, share your One Canopy story, and join us for an open discussion on all things tree-related.

If unable to attend the public meeting, you’re invited to share your vision for Tacoma’s trees in the second-round UFMP survey, available now through October 30 on


Green Building Program

Our environment is made up of all the surroundings, conditions, and influences that affect our life on earth. While natural environments are often thought of first when it comes to sustainability, it’s also important to remember that our built environment (including buildings, streets, and cities) can have profound effects on the environmental health of all living things. Understanding and improving the impacts that buildings have on our environment can help create more environmentally sustainable communities.

With this in mind, OEPS is pleased to welcome our new Green Building Specialist, Beth Jarot to the sustainability team! As a recent transplant from Iowa, Beth brings more than 25 years of experience in the private, public, and nonprofit sectors. She works collaboratively with the Planning and Development Services department to focus on education and outreach to city staff and the building community, construction & demolition diversion, and creating policy that supports green building opportunities in Tacoma. For questions about our new Green Building program, Beth can be reached at or (253) 208-4351.


Recycle Coach

Confused when it comes to recycling? You’re not alone. Recycling is an important part of every waste management strategy, but customers are often confused about exactly what’s recyclable and what’s not. We want to make sure Tacoma community members have the most up-to-date information available to make recycling in Tacoma easier.

Our all-new Recycle Coach “What Goes Where” searchable tool allows customers to access Tacoma-specific instructions for the proper disposal of thousands of items—from plastic cups to bowling balls. Mobile app users can also sign up to receive collection day reminders, calendars, and news notifications to a mobile phone, so you never forget to put out the bin. Visit to try Recycle Coach today, or call (253) 502-2100 to learn more.

But recycling in Tacoma also goes beyond the blue curbside bin. Friday, November 15 is America Recycles Day, and our Solid Waste Management team will be leading free tours of the Tacoma Recycle Center. This facility at 3510 S. Mullen St. accepts many items that can’t be recycled curbside, including plastic bags, scrap metals, Styrofoam, and more.

Stay tuned to our Tacoma Sustainability Facebook page for tour registration information.


ProgramsGrit City Trees

This year, nearly 500 Tacoma residents will receive free trees, TAGRO, tree stakes, and ties from our Grit City Trees Program! Grit City Trees aims to increase equity, community building, and tree canopy cover across Tacoma by providing free trees for residents to plant in their right-of-way. Program participants can choose between varieties of urban trees, carefully tailored for fit and location, and may be eligible to receive planting assistance.

Of the free street trees requested across Tacoma, 109 are intended for planting in areas of moderate to very low opportunity (based on Tacoma’s 2019 equity index), with 17 different groups represented. The 2020 Grit City Trees applications will be available on our website next summer in preparation for fall planting season. Neighborhood groups are encouraged to apply early to be a part of next season’s free trees for your right-of-way!

EnviroChallengers Art Program

They’re back with their tie dye coats and ready for a new school year! The EnviroChallengers are geared up for another year of fun environmental science, social responsibility, and newly-introduced art lessons for Tacoma’s K-8 classrooms, home-schooled students, and youth groups.

In the new Art EnviroChallenger lessons, students will learn about choices we can make to protect our environment while creating a personal piece of art. All lessons include art supplies and support state standardized test objectives.

But the environmental lesson doesn’t have to end when the school day is dismissed. New this year, students and their families are invited to “Take the EnviroChallenge” home and beyond! Students can pledge to incorporate environmental actions in their daily lives, and report back to the EnviroChallengers about what they’ve learned. Each month, one participating student will be selected to win a prize! Learn more at

When you need engaging, high-quality environmental science lessons, bring in the EnviroChallengers! Learn more about the free lessons offered by the EnviroChallengers at or call (253) 573-2364.

Autumn at the EnviroHouse

Fall is a great time to visit the EnviroHouse to see all the colorful shrubs and plantings in our sustainable landscape. Did you know that Heavenly Bamboo Fire Power” (Nandina domestica) is a low-water use, non-spreading evergreen shrub that keeps its leaves year-round? It is now dressing in fall colors, turning from dark green to gold to a brilliant dark red. This moderate growth shrub grows well in our plant zone with partial to full sun.

To learn more about Nandina and other low water use plants, visit the EnviroHouse Wednesday – Friday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. or Saturday and Sunday 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.  Also check out the free Saturday workshops online at We look forward to seeing you!

Tree Coupon Program

This year, Tacoma had the most successful Tree Coupon Program season yet! Thanks to the hard work of community members, continued support from The Puyallup Watershed’s Forests Community of Interest (FCOI), the partnership and in-kind services of Tacoma Public Utilities and the fiscal partnership of the Tacoma Power residential conservation program. The program went from distributing about 500 trees the season before to almost 3,000 in the 2018-19 season! Many thanks to our coupon redeemers and nursery partners for helping the City of Tacoma grow a healthy tree canopy throughout Pierce County.

The current Tree Coupon Program season has just opened, and will run through March 31, 2020. The new and improved on-line portal for requesting your coupon is now available, and you are encouraged to request your coupon today! October and November are great months to plant in order to give your tree a healthy start and time to establish roots before the dry weather returns. Coupons are available for $30 off each tree, up to 3 trees, per coupon. Eight nurseries throughout Pierce County are participating, so check out the Tree Coupon website to request a coupon, find a nursery near you, and keep the canopy growing!