Zero Waste Washington drives policy change for a healthy and waste-free world. We envision a just, equitable, and sustainable future where we all produce, consume, and reuse responsibly.

Legislative session: Two key zero waste bills at critical juncture need your help

It is exciting and daunting.  As we reach the halfway point of the legislative session, we have 2 priority bills still in play. BUT they need to be voted out of the House and sent over to the Senate by 5 pm on Tuesday, February 15. Zero Waste Washington is working with terrific partners, highly engaged stakeholders, and wonderful environmental legislative champions on policies to address key areas of the waste stream: reducing methane gas, increasing composting, recycling batteries, and right to repair.

Two priority bills have moved out of their “House of Origin” and are on their way to the Senate to continue their progress.  Our big priority bill, however, the RENEW Act, did not make it this year.

But two important bills are still in the House and we’d love your help to get them voted out!

We need your help to encourage legislators to vote YES on two bills

It will just take a few minutes and is super easy

These 2 bills need a push. We are at the critical juncture where a vote on the House floor must be completed by 5 pm on February 15th, if they are going to have a chance to become law.  There are many competing items capturing the attention of our legislators, but with your help we can make these bills stand out.

Right to Repair (HB 1810)

Championed by Representative Mia Gregerson, this bill (HB 1810) requires digital electronic product manufacturers, such as Apple and Microsoft, to make repair information, parts, and tools available to independent repair businesses and owners. The amount of e-waste is huge! For example, on average, Washington disposes nearly 8,700 phones every day. This bill would make it possible for small businesses to repair computers, tablets and cellphones. Extending the life of computers, tablets and cellphones will decrease the resources, energy, and transportation needed to manufacture new products – therefore also decreasing greenhouse gases.

Battery recycling (HB 1896)

Championed by Representative Kirsten Harris-Talley, this bill (HB 1896) would create an extended producer responsibility program for batteries. Lithium ion batteries are a major concern because they can cause fires at our recycling facilities and elsewhere. We need to make it easy for people to recycle these batteries safely through a take-back program rather than putting batteries in our home garbage or recycling bins.

Ensuring the proper handling, recycling, and end-of-life management of used batteries prevents the release of toxic materials into the environment and removes materials from the waste stream that, if mishandled, may present safety concerns to workers, such as by igniting fires at solid waste handling facilities.

Here is how you can help.

Please call or email your legislators directly using one of these two easy methods:

  • The Legislative Hotline (open M-F 8 am to 7 pm) 1-800-562-6000: They will ask your name and address, and then will let you list several bill numbers. This is when you state your support or opposition and add a brief comment: “I urge your support on this bill because…”
  • Or, send an email using the legislative email system for the bill. Fill out the required comment boxes (it will automatically figure out your district after you type in your address).  Be sure to click ‘select ‘all three of your legislators.  Click that you support the bill and add your personal (short) comment: “I support this bill because…”

Other bills

Reducing organic material to landfill (HB 1799):  On its way to the Senate!

When yard debris and food waste (aka “organic material”) are put in the landfill, they rot and create methane. Landfills are, thus, a significant source of methane, which is much more potent than CO2 in the near-term. It is much better to make compost!

Championed by Representative Joe Fitzgibbon and Senator Mona Das, this bill (HB 1799 – Concerning organic materials management) establishes a statewide goal for the landfill disposal of organic materials at a level representing 75% reduction by 2030 and a goal of 20% reduction in volume of edible food disposed to be recovered for human consumption by 2025. To do this, we need to  get excess edible food to hungry people, collect more organic material from our residents and businesses, build more composting facilities, reduce plastic contamination and find more ways to use the compost. This bill has provisions that get us more firmly on the path to accomplish these things.

Landfill methane gas (HB 1663): On its way to the Senate!

Because we DO still have organic material rotting in landfills, it is important to suck all of that methane gas out as effectively as possible and put it to use. The EPA estimates that 15.1% of methane emitted in the U.S. in 2019 was from landfills. With its short life, reducing methane emissions from landfills is a critical way to reduce the rate of warming in the near-term. This bill (HB 1663 – Reducing methane emissions from landfills), championed by Representative Davina Duerr, will reduce methane emissions in Washington by requiring owners or operators of certain landfills to install methane gas capture systems and to collect gas at an extraction rate that complies with surface methane emission limits (set in statute).

The RENEW Act bill (SB 5697): Sadly didn’t make it this year

The RENEW Act bill (SB 5697), meant to modernize our recycling system and reduce waste, was championed by Senators Mona Das and Christine Rolfes and Representatives Liz Berry and Brandy Donaghy. It would establish a producer responsibility program for packaging and printed products, among other provisions.  Unfortunately, the bill stalled in the Senate Ways and Means Committee last week. Stay tuned for next year!

Other bills still in action

There are other zero waste-related bills still in movement: to exempt reusable packaging from taxes (HB 1830), creating an alternative to 100% recycled content paper (HB 1518), reducing toxic chemicals in cosmetics (SB 5703) and speed up toxics’ regulation in products (HB 1694).

Tracking bills

You can find out more details about the zero waste-related bills and track their status at our legislative webpage

Thank you all for your help in moving important zero waste bills forward. If you have any questions, please contact Heather at

Announcing PreCycle! Seeking start-up teams (including students), mentors, coaches, and judges

In partnership with the Seattle Good Business Network, we are excited to launch the PreCycle Innovation Challenge 2022….To advance Washington’s circular, regenerative, and just economy. Business start-up teams and college/grad level teams will participate in a program and pitch competition culminating in a public event on May 23.

Launching the PreCycle Innovation Challenge

The PreCycle Innovation Challenge 2022 is a pitch competition for the best business product, service, or idea that addresses first and foremost, waste reduction, then waste solutions for materials generated in Washington state. The program is partially funded by the WA State Department of Ecology.

This competition is open to Pacific Northwest businesses, individuals, and student teams. Teams will participate and compete in two tracks: startup businesses and university-level. The 5-week program includes technical and business development workshops, mentoring, and coaching and culminates in a day-long virtual event. Post event, all teams will be offered mentorships to carry their ideas forward. PreCycle is designed as a feeder competition for other similar programs in the region such as NextCycle WA.

The final event will highlight presentations of existing Washington innovations and include pitches by the top finalists. Winning teams will receive cash prizes.

Seeking presenters, coaches, mentors, judges, and sponsors.

The PreCycle Challenge depends on volunteer presenters (subject matter experts), coaches, mentors, judges, and the support of sponsors. We’re looking for partners to join our collaborative effort and support this growing community for advancing our region’s circular economy efforts.

To learn more about how you can get involved click here:

or fill out the form here:

To inquire about sponsorships, learn more and get involved at or email Xenia at

Exciting news! Bring your own containers will become legal in WA State on March 1

By Elisabeth Archer, Waste Reduction Strategist

March 1st is the long awaited day when Washingtonians can legally bring their own reusable containers for refilling at restaurants, grocery stores, coffee shops, and more. Food establishments now have the option to allow customers to bring in a clean container to fill, refill, or reuse provided the establishment has an approved plan for delivering the food in a contamination-free manner.

With this revision to the food code, reusables are an easy option (and now legal!) and consumer pressure will help motivate the increased adoption of this practice.

The effort

Over the past several years, Zero Waste Washington and our partners have worked in the WA Food Safety Code update process to promote the inclusion of “bring your own container” provisions.  On October 13, 2020, the State Board of Health adopted revisions to State Retail Food Code Rule.

The hospitality industry, which includes restaurants and hotels, lobbied to have the date of implementation of the delayed to March 1, 2022, due to COVID.

What it means

Food establishments will have the option to allow customers to bring in a clean container to fill, refill, or reuse under an approved plan.  Their written plan needs to ensure that there is no cross-contamination, so that the food and beverages stay safe.  For example, gravity-feed dispensers are an easy, contamination-free method for selling many bulk items while dipping a scoop in a bin might not be.

To see the actual language of the update:

Great big thank you goes to Elisabeth for leading this effort!

Toxi-Free Your Home

By Kami Bruner, Waste Reduction Project Coordinator, with guest commentary by ZWW board member and toxics expert, Dr. Shirlee Tan


From CDC (


Toxic chemicals seem to be everywhere, and sadly, they are. Many chemicals improve our lives dramatically, while others provide conveniences that come with the cost of impacts to our health and the environment. It can feel overwhelming to even attempt to minimize your risk from toxic chemicals but every bit counts. The perfect place to start is where we spend the majority of our time: at home!

Some impacts of toxic chemicals can be immediate and obvious, while others play out over time after long-term exposures.

What to do to minimize your risk

One way to reduce the toxic chemicals inadvertently invited into your home is by, big surprise, not buying a lot of new stuff. Reducing consumption of personal care items and clothes, toys, electronics, furniture, and more, limits the number of toxic chemicals that you welcome into your home.

When you need to buy something new, try following these general guidelines:

  • Buy natural products. Seek out items made of natural fibers, that are low volatile organic chemical (VOC), have low amounts of additives, and that were not grown or produced with pesticides or other harmful chemicals.
  • Buy used (selectively). Buying used clothing reduces market demand for fast fashion which has an enormous chemical footprint. Used clothing is more likely to have off-gassed any VOCs and/or been washed multiple times. However, be cautious about buying old dishes or furniture as they may contain chemicals of concern like lead and older, more toxic flame retardants. If you do buy something new, unwrap and let it air for a few days before installing – ideally outdoors or near an open window.
  • Avoid falling victim to greenwashing. Look for items certified by a trusted third party for their safety claims (see the Need to Know section below for more detail on certification and specific product categories).
  • Buy organic food and materials, when possible – this reduces exposure to agricultural pesticide residues.
  • Buy products with fewer ingredients (or make your own if you have time).
  • Buy fragrance-free, low- or no-VOC products.
  • Avoid plastic whenever possible. In addition to their broader environmental harms, many plastics used in food packaging contain dangerous toxic chemicals like bisphenol A (BPA) which can leach into the food you consume.

Materials often have coatings or additives

When it comes to fabrics and furniture, it can be difficult to know what’s on the surface. As Zero Waste Washington Board Member and toxics expert, Dr. Shirlee Tan notes: “It’s hard to find upholstered furniture that’s not coated with stain resisters and fire retardants.” She recommends looking for materials like wool (naturally stain resistant and antimicrobial), sisal, ramie, or hemp, among others. As for mattresses, opt for natural materials such as natural latex and ventilate well before sleeping on them. If you cannot swap out your mattress for one made from natural materials, consider a natural-material mattress topper or even a mattress cover made from organic cotton or wool.

Do the terms “natural” and “organic” really mean anything? Reliable certifications to the rescue!

Shirlee warns individuals to be wary of fake certification labels. There are many labels out there making a lot of claims… unfortunately, many of them are not really meaningful.

There are a number of tools to educate yourself and find better products when you need them. Here are some of the most common certifications:

  • EPA Certified Safer Disinfectants Includes products effective for COVID sanitization
  • EPA Safer Choice Products From hand soaps and odor removers to heavy duty degreasers and “Everyday Sheep” (it’s a bike chain lube!), the EPA’s Safer Choice search tool is helpful for finding household products that are gentler on you and the planet.
  • Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep Database for information on ingredients in skin care products
  • TCO Certified (Tech Products) Mandatory criteria areas include hazardous substances, circularity, socially responsible manufacturing, environmentally responsible manufacturing, and much more.
  • Cradle to Cradle Product Registry Through the Cradle to Cradle Certified® Products Program, the Institute sets the global standard for products that are safe, circular and made responsibly.

New house vs. old house woes

You might be thinking, “Great! Sure, I can reduce what I bring in, but what about the toxic chemicals that are already here in the house with me?! I can’t see them but I know they’re there!”

Shirlee notes that both new and old homes have their issues – a big culprit being dust. She explains, “A primary means of toxics exposure for most people is through inhalation and ingestion, often from dust.”

New construction often comes with high off-gassing building materials from composite materials, flooring, cabinets, countertops, adhesives and glues, polyvinyl chloride plastics, and even paint fumes to name a few (remember the infamous Katrina FEMA trailers?).

Older homes and apartments are more likely to have toxic chemicals from materials used historically but which are now banned such as lead in the paint, fixtures and plumbing, asbestos, and PCBs that were used in caulk, light ballasts, and paints. There are also higher incidences of mold and mechanical irritants like asbestos in older homes (i.e., asbestos in old flooring, insulating ducting, and in “popcorn” ceilings).

Poorly maintained housing can also lead to greater toxic chemicals exposures to residents due to degradation of building materials from moisture, weatherization and wear and tear.

Old or new, if you live near a major roadway, flight path, railroad, or an industrial area, there is typically greater exposure to toxic chemicals (an ongoing environmental justice issue).

What about my water?

If you’re worried about lead in your water, let your tap run until it’s cold (~30 seconds) and you can always use a filter that removes heavy metals like lead, as well as other chemicals that may be present. And it beats bottled water that may be contaminated with plastic particles and adds more plastic to our waste stream.

The “Keys” to a Cleaner Home

 Whether you’re in a brand new loft apartment or a well-loved older home, good ventilation is key, as is keeping your living areas as dust free as possible.

  • Leave shoes at the door. It’s not “just dirt” you’re tracking in. A whole host of toxic chemicals latch on to your shoes throughout your daily travels. Kick ‘em to the curb (or at least the doormat).
  • Wash your hands (especially important for kids). Shirlee explains, “Hands are like feet, whatever you touch stays with you! … kids ingest more chemicals from licking their hands than from putting toxic products in their mouths (like paint dust with lead on window sills or arsenic on old wooden playsets).”
  • Toxiclean? Don’t make things worse by cleaning with toxic chemicals. Shirlee notes “The safest, most effective cleaner is actually soap and water – just using that with a microfiber cloth or sponge.” She emphasizes that most surfaces only need cleaning, not disinfecting. Furthermore, disposable wipes are not only wasteful, but they typically aren’t used effectively (many of them require 10 minutes of “wet application” to disinfect a surface!).
  • Disinfectant? Cleaner? What’s the difference?Cleaning refers to the removal of dirt and impurities, including germs, from surfaces using soap or detergent. Cleaning alone does not kill germs, but thorough cleaning will significantly decrease their numbers and lower the risk of spreading infection. Sanitizing reduces germs on surfaces to levels that are safe. Disinfecting kills germs on surfaces.”
  • Dust, dust, everywhere. Dusting is critical to keeping toxic chemicals at bay. Most things in your home will create some amount of dust, simply through abrasion during daily use, including fabrics, paper, plastic, and wood items. These may have some amount of toxic chemicals within them which slough off in the dust they create. Pay special attention to electronics as they are often coated with flame retardants. Dust that builds up on these items readily absorbs those chemicals. As soon as it’s disturbed – into the air and into your lungs it goes! The same is true for lead paint dust that’s often produced when opening and closing old windows. So, when preparing to dust, get yourself a damp rag, open the windows (wipe the dust from around them) and consider wearing a mask while you’re doing it.
  • Keep your home well-ventilated. Good ventilation goes a long way to reducing concentrations of toxic chemicals. (A potential silver lining of drafty living quarters!)
  • Use a vacuum with a HEPA filter

Policy solutions

Washington has a number of laws already in place from children’s products to food packaging, to car brakes.

Notably, the Safer Products for WA bill is a cyclical process in which our state’s departments of Ecology and Health work jointly to designate priority chemicals, identify products that contain these chemicals, then determine an appropriate regulatory course of action. Each cycle reviews five classes of chemicals. Currently, advocacy groups are hoping to move toward regulating groups of chemicals rather than individual chemicals (so companies are less able to make sneaky, still toxic, switches in their formulations.

On the horizon

There have been several related bills introduced in the current Washington State legislature.  You can find out more details at our legislative webpage

  • ​​Toxics in cosmetics (SB 5703) – is in the Senate Rules committee
  • Speed up toxics regulation in products (HB 1694) – is currently eligible for a House floor vote
  • Environmental labels on fashion (SB 5904) – stalled for this year


The Department of Ecology has developed a fantastic interactive storyboard that highlights areas of concern for toxic chemicals in the home.

Helpful articles in the Guardian (How to clear dangerous pollutants our of your home) and Public insider (Easy ways to protect your kids from invisible toxics)

Kami, originally from Tennessee, enjoys exploring our local zero waste options. For local zero waste efforts, check out Zero Waste Washington’s list of zero waste and bulk stores around the state.

Seeking furniture fixers and volunteers … and furniture donations!

By Xenia Dolovova, Waste Reduction Program Manager

The Furniture Fix-It project is up and running. Thanks to many of you, we have already received many  donations of damaged or imperfect furniture. The furniture will be repaired and refurbished to almost new condition and given to organizations that serve refugee and low-income families. The first furniture Fix-It event is scheduled for April 18 at the Tacoma Dome Annex, in partnership with the City of Tacoma. We are seeking fixers, apprentices, and volunteers to help out at these fun events.

According to a recent Waste Characterization Study conducted by the Department of Ecology, Washingtonians sent almost 70K tons of furniture to the landfill in 2020. We created our pilot project- Furniture Fix-It- with the goal of addressing this issue and redirecting furniture to support families in need.

The project is designed to rescue repairable furniture, clean and refurbish it with the help of skilled fixers, apprentices and volunteer helpers, and donate revived items to organizations that serve refugee and low-income families.

Damaged furniture donations

When we first announced that we are collecting donations of damaged and broken furniture, we were thrilled and humbled to receive so many responses from people.

More items are needed. We are prioritizing a selected list of specific items requested by the service organizations:

  • Kitchen or dining tables
  • Kitchen, dining, or other chairs
  • Chest of drawers
  • Small sofa or couches
  • Upholstered chairs and side chairs
  • Side, end, or coffee tables
  • Night tables or stands
  • Cribs
  • Lamps

During a recent collection day, people talked about the sentimental value of the items they are donating and their history. Many of the collected items were sitting in people’s garages waiting to become a weekend project. Some of the items were custom made, some traveled from abroad with their owners.

Repair workshops and public events

All the collected furniture will be triaged. Larger tasks will be tackled by skilled fixers and apprentices, who possess or are developing skills in woodworking, upholstery, refinishing, sewing, painting, staining, general repair, and cleaning. Volunteers will assist with smaller tasks. Some larger repairs will be performed at partner workshops, while smaller and easier repairs and cleaning will be handled at repair events that will be open to the public. Maybe you are able to help!

Come to the first repair event.  No skills needed!

The first repair event will take place on April 18th at the Tacoma Dome Annex. This will be a hands-on skill-sharing half-day event to work on previously collected furniture items. Fixers and apprentices will collaboratively work on repairs. Volunteers will have an opportunity to assist with smaller tasks such as cleaning and refinishing. As a note, this is not a kid-friendly event (due to the nature of the work), and to ensure a COVID-safe environment, we ask people to RSVP at

To stay up to date with project news, follow our Furniture Fix-it Facebook page:

Fixers, Apprentice, Volunteer and Donation sign up

Seattle Fix-It Fairs coming soon (all items, not just furniture)

We are also planning to start up Fix-it Fairs in Seattle. Fix-it Fairs are repair events where everyone brings their broken stuff and skilled community members fix it free of charge. We are looking for fixers and apprentices of all skills, including electrical, mechanical, sewing, jewelry repair, carpentry, tech, and more. We are also always looking for volunteers who can support logistics at the events, such as signing people in, helping direct flow, and just generally helping out.

And a big thank you to Ecology for providing funding for this project!

If you want to volunteer your time to help with coordination of the events, have any ideas on storage or locations or transportations services, or have any other questions, email Xenia at

Duwamish Valley Youth Encourage Change in their Community

By Ashley Whitley, Outreach/Education/Policy Coordinator

In fall 2021, Zero Waste Washington partnered with the Duwamish River Cleanup Coalition to support the  Duwamish Valley Youth Corps in an 11-week program for 21 high school and middle school students in the South Park neighborhood of Seattle. The program focused on educating the students about plastic pollution in their community and beyond, with a specific focus on marine debris and protecting native marine species.

Big thanks for grants from the Washington State Department of Ecology and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) that made this program possible. This program aims to teach career and life skills to the youth that will help them continue to be voices of change in their communities, such as public speaking, event organization, and communication.

Thank you Duwamish Valley Youth for your hard work!

Community litter cleanups are an important part of this program because they allow the students to work together and spend time in their community while also getting the opportunity to see how plastic pollution has impacted the area. The students see how litter ends up in the street and they learn about how that litter can be carried by stormwater to eventually end up in our bodies of water like the Puget Sound or Duwamish River.

After the cleanups, every piece of litter was categorized, photographed, weighed, and recorded, by the youth. The litter assessments provided data that help us gain more information about the litter in the area and where we should focus to find solutions.

This cohort collected many cigarette butts during the two cleanups but were most shocked by the number of plastic items that were collected overall.

Community Outreach

The youth created outreach materials that they could use to educate their community and spread information about the importance of reducing waste and protecting marine species. The materials were also translated into Spanish and Vietnamese by student native speakers.

Then the students conducted community outreach to local homes and businesses. Some of the students mentioned that they were nervous about door-to-door outreach at first, but after practicing their scripts the students felt more comfortable and did an excellent job at speaking to their neighbors and answering questions. The outreach groups also worked together to provide recommendations to local businesses about how they can reduce their waste to help marine species.

Video Production

The youth produced educational videos about plastic pollution, waste reduction, and marine debris. This video project gives students the opportunity to learn about songwriting, storytelling, film skills, and effective communication through video. We watched the final edits of the videos at the cohort’s graduation ceremony. It was such an amazing way to close our 11 weeks together.

Thank you again to the Duwamish Valley Youth Corps. You are making a difference!

“Reducing plastic pollution is easy, what’s your excuse for not trying?” – Balkhais, 12th grade

For more information about the Duwamish Valley Youth project, please contact Ashley at ashley@zerowastewashington.

First Annual Litter Free Washington Summit coming in July

Photo by Mark Rightmire, Orange County Register/SCNG

Save the Date!

When: July 19, 2022 (12-3:30 pm) – July 20 (9-12 am)

What: Two-day virtual summit for government employees, non-profit staff, community leaders and public officials working on solutions to address litter-related problems in Washington State.

Goal: Share technical, solution-oriented strategies, resources, policies, success stories and innovation to turn the tide on litter in Washington.

Pre-Register:  Sign up for this free event here.

Waste and litter issues are detrimental to human and environmental health, wildlife, the economy, and are a huge concern for residents. Several state, local and nonprofit organizations are planning a statewide summit to highlight and discuss policy, funding, behavior change, communications, innovative programs and other strategies to address this growing issue. This event will also be an opportunity to develop partnerships and future actions.

For more information about the Litter-Free Washington Summit, please contact Heather at heather@zerowastewashington.

Please join zero waste with your tax deductible gift. Together we can make the difference!

Zero Waste Washington cannot do this work without you. Thank you for your generous support. Together we are driving policy changes for a healthy and zero-waste future in Washington.

And thank you for all that you do in your own lives and in the community to help create a zero waste world. Action each of us takes every day helps reduce the amount of waste going into the trash, which in turn moves us toward our vision of a just, equitable and sustainable future!

Send us your success stories! We’d love to hear them and maybe even include them in a future newsletter.

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