Conservative leader David Cameron promised a "green revolution" as he launched the final phase of his local election campaign.
The green agenda was revealed at the party's spring conference
Mr Cameron urged people to "vote blue, go green" in the lead up to the 4 May council polls.
Conservative councillors would work for cross-party consensus to preserve the environment, he said.
Labour accused Mr Cameron of offering "warm words" and the Liberal Democrats said he was "posturing".
Mr Cameron began the day delivering recycling boxes in Essex as he tried to underline his green credentials.
As he launched the new phase of the campaign, he said: "We have to think global, act local.
"Solutions to big global problems are often found at the local level. Local government is in the frontline of the fight for a better quality of life."
The challenge applied not only to the recycling or cutting greenhouse gas emissions but also to cleaning up litter, tackling noise pollution and making parks "beautiful", he said.
Mr Cameron said he wanted to see what he called "green growth" - a combination of economic growth and a sustainable environment.
"Some of the green lobby and a lot of the media tend to look at the environment and climate change as, look you've got a binary choice, you can either have economic growth or you can have a sustainable environment, and the truth is we've got to have both.
"We've got to have green growth."
The Tories say their councils have the highest average of recycling and composting rates, the cleanest streets and the safest environments, and lower council tax rates than Labour or the Lib Dems.
The party leader has attempted to strengthen his commitment to the green agenda by revealing plans to install an energy-generating wind turbine for his home in London.
Later this week he will travel to the Arctic Circle to see the impact of global warming, including a glacier which has lost almost half its mass in the past century.
But Labour seized on his "vote blue, go green message" to reinforce their campaign to compare Mr Cameron to a chameleon.
Environment Secretary Margaret Beckett said: "Today, we have another David Cameron flip-flop.
"Last year, David Cameron voted against the Cleaner Neighbourhoods and Environment Act during its passage through Parliament.
"Now he says 'cleaning up litter, fighting noise pollution and making parks and public spaces beautiful are all on our agenda'."
Mrs Beckett said Labour had made the environment a top political priority and given councils new powers to take action.
Liberal Democrat leader Sir Menzies Campbell joined the attack on the Tories.
"Global posturing is no substitute for local action," he said.
"The Liberal Democrats remain the only party seriously committed to tackling climate change."