Oregon Grassroots Organize for Climate

On March 10, 2020, surrounded by young people, Oregon Governor Kate Brown responded to the outcry for Climate by signing Executive Order 20-04 into law. This Executive Order mandated deep changes affecting almost every aspect of life in the state, not just for a reduction in Greenhouse Gas emissions, but for the development of renewable alternatives and other climate solutions that would put Oregon at the forefront to save the planet.

“Gov Brown be a Climate Hero!” Lobby Day in 2018 featured this banner in an effort led by 350Eugene and Oregon activist coalitions. Following a failure of Oregon State legislators to pass climate legislation in session, Governor Brown signed a comprehensive and wide reaching Executive Order addressing Climate Change.
Photo by Backbone Campaign CC BY 2.0 cropped

It was a marvelous day, an amazing achievement, and … complicated. This magnificent Executive Order, EO 20-04, is now known as the Oregon Climate Action Plan. Just as climate change touches almost every part of our daily lives, the Oregon Climate Action Plan calls on just about every state agency to address the effort–some with very clear mandates for emissions reductions and energy efficiencies.


WHEREAS, given the urgency and severity…for future generations…

(Read the Executive Order here. )


It is a little daunting, but the sheer enormity of the effort is necessary. Even more necessary is the continued commitment of Oregonians to ensure these new policies are put into effect. And Oregonians are committed. A green army of everyone from everyday folks to experts, citizens to organizations, have mobilized to support the work of the state agencies as they figure out how to bring the Oregon Climate Action Plan to Life.

The Southwestern Oregon Chapter of The Climate Reality Project was glad to be a small part of this big effort. On January 15, 2021, 4pm, the chapter had the opportunity to host Madison Daisy Hathaway of Renew Oregon who walked us through what the statewide Grassroots organizing effort looks like now. It is a presentation focused on how we as Oregonians can support the Oregon climate coalition efforts and keep up the energy for the climate movement.

Madison Daisy, Renew Oregon

About the presentation and video: Madison Daisy Hathaway provided a brief overview of Executive Order 20-04, explained the current structure of the OCAP Coalition working on the rulemaking related to the EO, and shared opportunities for grassroots advocates to get involved.  

Madison Daisy Hathaway, Renew Oregon’s Oregon Climate Action Plan Coalition Coordinator, mobilizes grassroots partners in an effort to pass, then support, a robust Cap & Invest program. She brought hundreds of youth leaders into the campaign and has a deep passion for introducing youth to the legislative process and providing them with the skills to be effective climate policy advocates. Prior to joining Renew, she worked for the Sunrise Movement in New York City as the Regional Lead Organizer. There, she and her team elected strong climate champions to the NY state legislature. Madison Daisy holds a BS in Quantitative Economics and Sustainable Urban Development from the Portland State Honor’s College.

Interested in getting plugged in?


Looking to get involved, learn more about The Climate Reality Project and/or join a chapter!

Oregon Environmental Efforts Reflect Nationwide Trends

The Oregon Climate Action Plan, Executive Order 20-04, was signed in March of this year. Defining the rules that will implement these proposed environmental standards–designing the specifics and practical applications of the standards–is now in progress in Oregon.

Oregon joins the voices and outreach of diverse nationwide groups to establish common ground that will lead to both environmental and economic health for our citizens. Nationwide, environmental groups are forming coalitions with other environmental groups. But also, group previously divided by politics or region are establishing common ground.

For example, Wisconsin farmers and environmental groups are partnering to facilitate the joint efforts and resources of their state. This partner group includes the Dairy Business Association, as well as Clean Wisconsin, The Nature Conservancy in Wisconsin, and Wisconsin Land and Water Conservation Association.

“Together, our organizations are proposing a set of policy principles to guide lawmakers and the administration in this effort,” says Dairy Business Association President Tom Crave.

The Wisconsin partnering is reported by the mid-western Brownfield Ag News for America. https://brownfieldagnews.com/news/dairy-group-three-environmental-groups-form-water-quality-partnership/

This is where we all agree!
Photo by Melissa Askew on Unsplash

When seeking and establishing common ground, we can learn practical strategies and ideas from other states, like Wisconsin. We can also strengthen the diverse partnerships already being developed in Oregon. As we in Oregon proceed to weigh in on rules to implement our Oregon Climate Action Plan, we aim to leverage our best. We join heart and hard-won efforts of diverse groups in our nation and the world.

Yes, We Can! Master Recycler Program in Oregon

Awesome Environmental Solution Where
You Can Help

Positive thinking is living in the solution, not the problem. When faced with environmental damage, let’s use the real, tangible, already available solutions to turn negative into positive.

There is a place in Oregon this fall to learn actions that can sustain our planet—aka the 3 R’s:  Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle. This virtual 10-week class examines landfill science, composting, electronic and hazardous waste disposal, and costs and benefits of recycling.

RECYCLE — Recycling and using this cardboard means that a tree or two doesn’t need to be cut down. The trees we saved use their photosynthesis to use up the extra CO2 emissions in the air. Oh, and we also saved the costs to cut down the trees and manufacture new cardboard. Photo by Jon Moore, Unsplash.

The Master Recyclers Program (MRP) explores how wise materials management can decrease the amount of stuff we use, and then waste, to begin with.

Voila! The need, and costs, to recycle are decreased at the beginning of the consumption cycle.

REUSE — When we reuse materials in our life, that saves purchasing multiple items that would go to the landfill. This means less money spent on recycling.
Photo by Wynand Van Poortvliet, Unsplash.

Oregon State University and Republic Services facilitators are guiding this annual 10-week program.  Tino Barreras is Republic’s Education and Outreach facilitator for Linn and Benton counties. Andrea Norris brings her expertise as Marketing and Development Coordinator for OSU’s Campus Recycling.

Please note:  This fall’s Linn/Benton program is currently full.  In Oregon, however, Master Recycler Programs are held statewide; please check the Resources section at the end of this article for other MRP opportunities.

Highlighting Diversity Expands Outreach

The current Master Recyclers program welcomes diverse participants to learn how recycling aids sustainability. 

This online class is free to Linn and Benton County residents who commit to share their learning with 30 hours of volunteer outreach, within a year of course completion.

“It’s exciting that the online class will extend the reach of who can participate,” said Republic’s Barreras.  “It’s a diverse group, who will work in small groups and get to know each other.”

Volunteer activities can include: staffing an information table at a local market or event, leading a workshop, talking to neighbors and local groups, or pitching in at a recycle or re-use organization.

It’s a diverse group, who will work in small groups and get to know each other. Each participant will take their knowledge into their wider community. It’s an ever-expanding network.”  

Tino Barreras, Republic Services

The trained volunteers will be able to present pathways of change so people of all ages know that individual efforts—like what to recycle, what not to recycle—have a tangible effect on climate health. 

Originally an in-person class in previous years, this MRP class meets on Zoom: Mondays, 6-8pm, Sept 28 to Dec 7 (no class Nov. 23).   Discussion and question sessions will be held on two Thursdays, Oct 22 and Nov 19, 6-7pm.


Individual efforts—like what to recycle, what not to recycle—have a tangible effect on climate health.


Subject Matter Experts Bring Experience, Enthusiasm

The course structure uses an overview of recycle processes that most of us are familiar with, but are not sure exactly how much they make a difference.  So many questions:

  • What happens to those recycles I put in my bin? 
  • When waste goes to the landfill, how long is it expected to stay there? 
  • Does composting make a difference?

The professionals will share solutions they see on the horizon, but will also encourage participants to share solution ideas from their perspectives.

Waste Professionals Seek Community Ideas

“Each participant will take their knowledge into their wider community.  It’s an ever-expanding network,” Barreras said.

From campus-wide to community-wide, sustainability is honed by understanding and connection among people. The Master Recycler Program’s new online format will also support breaking into small groups to get to know people and learn about ideas and challenges of others.  Joining with other will widen the circle of influence of positive environmental change.

Materials Management and Waste Prevention

The lifecycle of waste, from extraction or growth to end of life, is the big picture of this class. Remember the 3 R’s to a sustainable planet—Reduce, Re-use, Recycle.  Recycling processes are only part, albeit a critical part, of the bigger material management picture. Re-use means using a material or a product again for another purpose or even for the same purpose.  Reduce means to re-use or to avoid purchasing; this leads to no waste—i.e., zero waste.

Zero waste–that is, no waste to start with—is the ultimate recycle strategy. Reducing our purchases eliminates money needed to (1) extract resource, transport; (2) manufacture, transport; (3) sell, transport; (4) trash, transport; (5) bury or burn. Carbon emissions decrease.

A Master Recycler learns the first step to recycling is to ask:
“Do I really need to buy this?”

Buying and trading will always be a way of interchange and economy vitality. However, both businesses and buyers will want to consider carefully what products they want to support in our local and global marketplace.

REDUCE — If we consider carefully what items we buy at the beginning of the consumer cycle, then we will lighten the recycling load–and thus the cost–needed at the end of the cycle.
Photo by Pop & Zebra, Upsplash.

Sustainability and MRP Are Statewide

Both individuals and businesses in Oregon have resources and ideas to both build our economy, and protect the environment as we move forward.

Here in Oregon, a viable, active program of education, participation, and outreach is embodied in the Master Recycler Programs. The MRP classes and resources can be found throughout the state of Oregon, by searching on your web browser.  The classes are sponsored by a diverse combination of private and public organizations, depending on the region.

Feel free to use the following resources to learn how waste recycling and management supports our economy and environment at the same time.

Oregon Business and Science Joint Environmental Resources

Linn & Benton Master Recyclers’ Program:

  • Andrea Norris, 541-737-5398
    Marketing & Development Coordinator, Oregon State University Campus Recycling
  • Tino Barreras, 541-286-3331
    Municipal Administrator/Education & Outreach, Republic Services

Republic and OSU Sustainability Links

Master Recycler Program– Inspire Neighbors and Coworkers Into Action

Upcoming:  Yes You Can! Fishing Regulations Reveal Global Buy-In by Oregon

  • Fishing collaboration with other states, countries—lead to sustainability
  • Oregon Initiatives and Resources

FAQ: The Oregon Climate Action Plan: What it is and What to do

By Mike Green

What is the Oregon Climate Action Plan?

The Oregon Climate Action Plan, or OCAP, is a comprehensive plan to dramatically reduce climate pollution and protect Oregon’s air and water by systematically increasing the adoption of clean, renewable approaches in transportation, businesses, and buildings. The long-term plan will not only reduce greenhouse gas emissions significantly but will also improve health, save money, and create jobs.

Alvord Desert, Oregon Photo by Elle Storset

What’s new about it?

This plan, authorized by Governor Kate Brown’s Executive Order 20-04 in March 2020, is the most comprehensive and aggressive approach in our state’s history to address the crisis of climate change. You can read the executive order here and follow updates from Governor Brown here.

How comprehensive is the plan?

OCAP is a broad and systematic approach to foster a clean economy, make fuels cleaner, and make buildings more energy-efficient. For example:

  • Clean Economy: OCAP requires corporate polluters to reduce pollution over time by strengthening the existing pollution-reduction targets and requiring large polluters, by law, to reduce emissions. Large polluters will be required to lower climate pollution levels 45% below 1990 levels by 2035, and at least 80% below 1990 levels by 2050.
  • Clean Fuels: OCAP extends the state’s successful four-year-old Clean Fuels Program, which creates jobs and lowers pollution from fuels by making cleaner options available. The program’s previous goal was to reduce pollution by 10% by 2025. The added goal, to reduce pollution 25% by 2035, is the most ambitious goal for clean fuels in the nation.
  • Clean Buildings: OCAP requires that new homes and buildings in Oregon be able, by 2030, to produce as much clean energy as they use and to maximize energy efficiency. By broadly applying technologies already in use today, homes and buildings will waste less energy with more efficient heating, cooling, and lighting.

The COVID pandemic and the large-scale movement for racial justice have put a spotlight on the many struggles of Oregonians. How does OCAP help disadvantage populations and communities?

The plan has an intense focus on communities of color and lower-income communities who are more likely to live and work closest to the major pollution sources and thus be harmed most by climate change. For example, OCAP requires state agencies to consult with impacted communities and the Environmental Justice Task Force on climate actions. The plan also prioritizes actions that help impacted communities adapt to climate change and calls for the creation of an interagency work group to address climate harms to impacted communities.

Is there any progress yet?

Yes. In May 2020, twelve state agencies submitted their plans to carry out the Governor’s Executive Order establishing the plan. Agencies with specific directives—ranging from the Department of Environment Quality to the state’s departments of Energy and Transportation—provided detailed plans to achieve major climate progress in Oregon. These include concrete plans for increasing transportation electrification, using cleaner fuels to replace petroleum, installing more infrastructure for clean energy generation and usage, building cleaner and more energy-efficient homes and commercial buildings, reducing food waste, reducing methane emissions from landfills, and mandating better land use planning. You can read the agencies’ detailed plans here

What comes next?

Much is yet to come from both state agencies and advocacy groups across Oregon. For example, by mid-September the Building Codes Division will outline options for achieving the 2030 energy efficiency goal over the next three cycles of updating the state building code. And many of the state’s administrative processes are making individual directives within the governor’s order a reality. In addition, advocacy groups within the Renew Oregon coalition have submitted letters to many agencies to inform their plans, and those groups are exploring how to coordinate their activities and collaborate with the OCAP goals in mind.

What can we do as Oregonians and as Climate Reality Project members to make OCAP successful—and accelerate its gains?

First, we should work to do everything we can as individuals to set an example and reduce our own emissions and overall carbon footprint, by following the advice of Oregon groups like reneworegon.org and international groups like The Climate Reality Project. Then we should require the companies we buy from to meet or exceed their requirements under OCAP—or do business with companies that do. And we should make sure we VOTE to elect or re-elect the officials who will lead with the integrity and urgency that the climate crisis demands. For more information see the Turn Out for Tomorrow initiative of the Climate Reality Project and follow our Oregon legislative activity here.