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 2024 is just around the corner

Yes! Preparations for the Washington 2024 legislative session are ramping up. Since it will be a “short session,” that is 60 days, many of the negotiations occur in advance. We are already discussing a big suite of topics with legislators.

What’s on deck

Representative Liz Berry is leading The WRAP Act, which would modernized our recycling system and incentivize waste reduction. This did not advance last year when it got to the House floor and is coming back with lessons learned.

Building off the comprehensive organics bill (HB1799, successfully led by Rep. Joe Fitzgibbon in 2022), Representative Beth Doglio is prepping an organics “phase II” bill for 2024. The goal is to divert organic material – yard debris, food waste and other organic waste – from the landfill where it rots and creates methane gas. Stakeholders have been meeting twice a month since July to discuss the details.

The terrific battery bill (SB5144) championed by Senator Derek Stanford and Representative Chipalo Street in the last session, and signed into law by Governor Inslee, includes a requirement for the WA State Department of Ecology to develop recommendations for an Electronic Battery recycling policy. We are looking forward to the preliminary study results in December!

Appliance and light bulb recycling bills were introduced in 2022 and are slated to come back in 2024. Bills promoting wind turbine blade recycling and addressing PFAS (the forever chemicals) in biosolids are also expected in the next session.

Finally, a plastic pollution bill is being developed by the Plastic-Free Washington Coalition. Details to be determined. Stay tuned!

We are looking forward to another exciting session starting January 9.

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

You are invited: See a landfill up close and personal

Have you been to a landfill? Curious about what is there? We are pleased to invite you to a private tour of the Cedar Hills Landfill in Maple Valley, on September 21st, 11:30 – 2:00pm OR on October 5, 12:30-2:30. Our tour guides will be King County staff. Space is limited.


  • What: Cedar Hills landfill tours
  • When:
    • TOUR #1: September 21, 11:30-2:00
    • Lunch: Lunch (provided) from 11:30-12:30 (tour starts at 12:30)
    • TOUR #2: October 5, 12:30-2:30
    • Lunch: Lunch (provided) from 12:30-1:00 (tour starts at 1:00)
  • Wear: Sturdy close toe shoes and dress according to the weather. Be sure to bring a refillable water bottle.
  • RSVP: Please email Michelle Alten-Kaehler at Space is limited.

 For any questions and suggestions, please contact Michelle Alten-Kaehler at

Back-to-School with less waste

By Michelle Alten-Kaehler, Development Coordinator

Each August, as the school year approaches, Washington students and families embark on treasure hunts for shiny new pens, colorful binders, and eye-popping backpacks. College freshmen and returning students seek out furniture, cookware and, of course, bed linens. Now, clever new programs and innovative products are making it easier for students and parents to swap the expensive back-to-school shopping spree for a more sustainable, earth-conscious approach.

Western Washington University: Furniture Fest!

At Western Washington University, students from a recent capstone class embarked on a project to tackle waste and help students at the same time. “Every summer, furniture piles appear out of nowhere on the sides of roads in Bellingham…” explains student Thane Davis. Old desks, tables, and couches line the streets like spectators awaiting a parade. Fellow student Amber Olsen saw an opportunity. What if they could help the city solve their furniture problem and get these useful items to the students?

Western Furniture Fest was born. Davis, Olson, Nikita Presler, and Jared Dirks began collecting used furniture. The team’s goal was to not only reduce waste, but to “enable students to furnish their rooms and apartments for free,” explains Presler. In 2022, the students collected and distributed 86 items. This year, they have already gathered 100 pieces of furniture and anticipate many more. Once items are cleaned, students go online and reserve furniture to pick up for free at the next donation/pick-up day.

Furniture Fest, funded by the University’s Sustainable Equity and Justice Fund, kicks into high gear in August and September, just as students arrive for the school year,. At Couchella—a furniture festival, featuring music from student bands and other artists, along with food and games — students can pick up their items, support a circular economy, and save dollars.

Creating a sustainable furniture program has its challenges. The project involves a key issue—where to store the stuff. But by carefully selecting items, the team discovered they could unload all their inventory. By the end of the summer, they no longer need storage space—a coveted commodity once the school year begins.

The Western Check-Out programs

Two other Western initiatives also support reduce, reuse, repair, and recycle. The Western Check-Out program keeps an inventory of vacuums, brooms, irons, space heaters and other items in dorms. Students can borrow and return items, saving money and preventing waste.

Students Dora Vaughan and Hannah Nienaber co-founded a longer-term checkout system, loaning out mini-fridges, microwaves, lighting, and other handy products. The project extended the lives of items they had seen piling up at the recycling center and kept them in the community.

Other schools have programs to circulate items

At Pacific Lutheran University’s SurPLUs, students can donate and purchase used furniture and other items. The store operates as a closed-loop cycle collecting many of its items in the spring when students move out then providing them to incoming students for their dorms and apartments in the fall. Students save money and less furniture makes the journey to the landfill.

In Pullman, Washington State University picks up students’ unwanted items at the end of the year and donates them to community thrift shops like Palouse Treasures. “It is about diverting items from the waste stream and supporting the local community,” Meg Autrey, Director of Housing and Residence Life explains. As students shop for furniture and other supplies at the local thrift stores, they help fund special projects like workforce development for people with disabilities and scholarships for undocumented students.

Earth-Friendly School Supplies for Students of Any Age

Typical back-to-school lists include glue sticks, notebooks, pens, and markers—all made from and wrapped in plastic. Happily, clever entrepreneurs have been at work seeking ways to make these items more earth-friendly. Imagine a pencil that can grow into a plant. Crayons produced from soy and natural pigments instead of petroleum products. A pencil sharpener carved from bamboo.

For the classroom, look for notebooks and pads with recycled paper that save trees. Pencils created from recycled newspaper can also support circularity. While pens are tricky, refillable metal casings may reduce some of the throw-away plastic. And eco-friendly biodegradable and compostable pencil highlighters can replace those pesky plastic ones that dry out and end up in the garbage.

When it comes to alternatives to costly and environment-draining back-to-school shopping, don’t forget to start by rummaging in home closets. So many treasures await. Barely used crayons. Dull pencils needing only sharpening. Nearly new bed linens. After all, home is where the heart is—but it’s where there’s a lot of stuff, too!

Michelle is a serious zero waste devotee and is always on the lookout for new zero waste innovations and shops.

Is your favorite restaurant or coffee shop still using disposables?

By Ashley Whitley, Outreach/Education/Policy Coordinator

Our Durables in Restaurants project aims to tackle waste from food businesses by encouraging the switch from disposable to durable serviceware in King County food establishments for in-house dining. We have been supporting local restaurants, coffee shops and other food providers in their efforts to become more sustainable by offering up to $500 for reusable plates, cups, glasses and utensils and up to $1000 for dishwasher upgrades.

This important program to help reduce the load of single-use serviceware and food waste  to the landfill is funded by a generous King County Re+ Grant. Any location is eligible except those in the City of Seattle…but Seattle has its own similar Reuse Rebate program!

What are shops buying

We are pleased to announce that many businesses have already partnered with us in this sustainable journey. Coffee shops, for instance, have invested in durable cups for cold drinks, eliminating the need for single-use plastic or paper cups. Teriyaki restaurants are embracing the shift from disposable to durable bento boxes. Local brewers have also taken up the cause by replacing disposable utensils with durable alternatives.

Reuse services also eligible for reimbursement

The program also includes up to $500 for food businesses to purchase memberships to durables to-go services. There are new reuse services coming online in King County for cups and other foodware!

Do you have restaurants to recommend?

We are actively seeking more businesses to join the program and help contribute to a greener future. If you know any food establishments that might benefit from our project, please help us expand our reach to create an even more substantial impact. We believe that together we can create a significant positive change in how food businesses operate so they can contribute to a cleaner, healthier community.

To share ideas about potential restaurants or coffee shops, please contact Michelle at

Furniture Repair Bank: seeking volunteers, partners, and donations

By Xenia Dolovova, Waste Reduction Programs Director

We cannot hold back our excitement! Our new warehouse space in SODO, which replaces our office space on 2nd Avenue, is open. Our furniture repair program is now the Furniture Repair Bank, the first and only repair bank that focuses on rescuing furniture from going to the landfill. Damaged furniture is being refurbished and then provided, in partnership with service organizations, to recent refugee and low income families. The results are truly amazing, and we are so happy this beautiful furniture is going to families in need.

Recruiting volunteers, no skills needed!

Through our furniture repair activities, we are building a community of mighty and empathic individuals. With our planned 10 to 12 repair days each month, we are now looking for volunteers who want to have fun doing simple tasks such as sanding and staining, or even learning furniture repair and re-design. No experience needed! Please consider signing up for one of our upcoming repair events.

Upcoming repair event dates:


  • Mondays (except Labor Day and Indigenous Peoples’ Day): Sep 11, Sep 18, Sep 25, Oct 2, Oct 16, Oct 23, and Oct 30
  • Thursdays: Sep 7, Sep 21, Oct 5, and Oct 19


  • Sunday Aug 20
  • Saturday Aug 26
  • Sunday Sep 10
  • Saturday Sep 23
  • Saturday Oct 14
  • Sunday Oct 22

To join us, fill out a volunteer form:

Team-building events

We are also offering team-building events for groups of employees from local businesses. If your company is interested in partnering for half-day or full-day volunteer days, this is a fun and meaningful way to create an impact on the waste stream and also on people’s lives.

Know someone we should contact? Please let us know.

Email Xenia with ideas at

Starbucks team (left) and Atomo Coffee team (right)


Seeking furniture donations

Our ongoing furniture collection includes the items that new refugees and low-income folks need the most. We are always seeking beds, loveseats, armchairs, tables, chairs, lamps and more. We also need mattresses (these need to be in perfect condition).

Learn what else we accept here:

Or fill out a donation form here:

Nightstands before and after (top) and a dresser before and after stripping the old paint, sanding, and a new coat of chalk paint (bottom)

To help or if you want to say hi or share other ideas, please email Xenia at

Seattle 'Race to Zero Waste' Contest

We are partnering in a fun student contest which concludes on October 14th. The Seattle Race to ‘Zero Waste’ Contest is an invitation for all Seattleites to become a part of the waste solution! No one likes waste! Together we can find new ways to reduce what we buy and consume, reuse what we can, and share and repair in easy ways. Let’s keep waste out of landfills, rivers, and oceans, and keep our community sustainable and beautiful.

The contest is a partnership between Seattle Public Utilities and Seattle Public Schools, with fun prizes contributed by Recology, Cedar Grove, Zero Waste Washington, EarthGen, and Race to Zero Waste.

We want your waste prevention ideas!

Your ideas will help Seattle Public Utilities and partners think about how to support the community in preventing waste: food, single-use items, clothing, electronics, furniture, and more.

Enter to Win

It’s easy! Just answer a few simple questions and describe your idea to reduce waste in your community or school. Your idea can be simple and in the early stages. You may also draw a picture or diagram or include a photo of your idea.

The judging criteria includes how well your idea addresses waste prevention, creativity/innovation, community involvement, environmental impact and how actionable the idea is.


Prizes will be awarded to students in Seattle Public Schools and to College and Community members.

You can find more details here:

All of these programs would not happen without you! Please join Zero Waste Washington and support us with your tax deductible gift.

Please show your support by donating to Zero Waste Washington! As we move into our next 40 years, your gift enables us to continue making Washington State’s waterways, communities, and the air we breathe healthy and waste free.

Today is the time to make waste reduction and recycling easier and more effective! Your contribution will help make zero waste activities, and so much more, possible.

Please join this effort and donate today!

Zero Waste Washington cannot do this work without you. Thanks for joining us!

Donate here

Zero Waste Washington

PO Box 84817 * Seattle, WA * 98124

(206) 441-1790

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