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.

City of Shoreline passes foodware ordinance… and legislative session starts soon

Big kudos to the City of Shoreline for passing an ordinance in August requiring restaurants and coffee shops to provide durable foodware for customers who are dining on-site, and compostable foodware for to-go orders. This supports waste reduction goals in Shoreline’s Climate Action Plan. Shoreline joins the cities of Bellingham and Bainbridge Island which have recently passed similar ordinances.

McDonalds reusables for onsite dining, Bellingham

Reducing Single Use Plastic Ordinance passed August 14

Shoreline’s Ordinance 990, goes into effect June 1, 2024, and requires restaurants to use durable plates, cups, and cutlery to serve customers dining at the restaurant and to use compostable packaging for take-out orders. Compostable packaging types must be accepted for composting by the industrial composting facilities that serve the city. Some types of packaging are given temporary extensions, such as clear food wrap and shrink wrap, because compostable options are not readily available at this time, similar to Burien’s ordinance passed in 2020.

This new law reduces disposable plastic packaging that is difficult to recycle and often pollutes our streams, lakes, and marine waters when littered.

Prepackaged food is exempt. Condiments, however, that are provided for on-site consumption must be served in reusable containers, including bulk dispensers. Food service establishments that do not have adequate onsite or off-site dishwashing capacity may submit a petition for a waiver due to insurmountable space constraints for a dishwashing system, undue financial hardship, and/or other extraordinary circumstances.

There’s still time left for our mini-grants to help make the switch

Zero Waste Washington’s Durables in Restaurants project helps encourage businesses to make the switch from disposable to durable serviceware for in-house dining. We have been doing outreach to King County food establishments, restaurants, coffee shops and other food providers. Our grants offer up to $500 for purchase of reusable plates, cups, glasses and utensils and up to $1500 for dishwasher upgrades. The program concludes December 31, and has been generously supported with a King County RE+ grant. Any King County location is eligible (except those in the City of Seattle)…but Seattle has its own similar Reuse Rebate program!

 2024 Legislative Session Agenda

This fall we have been engaged in many stakeholder meetings discussing zero waste-related bills. Topics range from modernizing our recycling system and reducing packaging waste (aka The WRAP Act), composting, and right to repair to recycling mercury light bulbs and refrigerant gases. We previewed many of these in our August newsletter.

We are looking forward to another exciting legislative session starting January 8 and running 60 days. During session, we will keep you updated on all the bills related to zero waste and priority environmental concerns on our legislative page.

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

Harvesting Solutions: launching a new project on farm waste

By Nayeli Campos, Community Outreach and Policy Coordinator

Zero Waste Washington has launched an exciting new project that aims to reduce farm waste and save farmers money. We want to learn more about the types of waste farmers are coping with and then we will be developing pilot solution projects.

First, interviews with farmers

We are currently interviewing farmers, ranchers and others in the agricultural sector focused in Snohomish, King, Kitsap and Pierce counties as well as nearby counties. Our goal is to identify smart solutions that reduce landfill waste while also cutting costs for farmers.

Tackling waste on farms

Ever wonder about the challenges small farmers face when it comes to managing waste? By now, it is no secret that plastic is a major polluter. And you may have noticed that plastic waste has stealthily made its way onto farms as well. Although we most commonly associate farms with organic waste, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations released a report in 2021 (here) showing that the entire agricultural value chains uses 12.5 million tons of plastic products in plant and animal production and 37.3 million tons in food packaging.

Visualizing our waste

It can be difficult to visualize waste statistics. To put it in perspective, try to visualize this: 10 million tons of plastic is equivalent to a parade of 2 million elephants, 50,000 blue whales, and the weight of about 27 Empire State Buildings. This all becomes even more alarming when you consider the lightweight nature of most plastic items. According to the report, the most common plastic items found on farms are mulch films, irrigation tubes, sacks for seeds, silage films, pesticide bottles, fruit/plant protectors, nets and ropes.

From insight to action

We’re diving into action. Together with farmers, we’ll explore ways to reduce plastic and other waste from on-site operations. After we gather information from farmers and associated businesses, we have funds to do pilot solutions projects in 2024 thanks to a Public Participant Grant from the WA State Department of Ecology. These projects will focus on waste reduction and cost savings for farmers.

How can you take action?

We want to hear from farmers! If you have friends and families in the farming, ranching, and other related sectors in Washington, please let us know.

Stay tuned for updates, success stories and more!

 We are thrilled that Nayeli Campos has joined our staff! Nayeli comes to Seattle from California and has already jumped into many of our programs. If you know farmers who would like to be interviewed for this project, please contact Nayeli at

Back to the Future! Our annual holiday party, online, December 1

Our theme this year is Back to the Future! Come find out more at our annual holiday party – online! We will keep you entertained with a fun, interactive jeopardy game.


You’re Invited!

Please join us for

Zero Waste Washington’s

Annual Holiday Party

Friday, December 1, 2022

5—6:30 pm

Via zoom

Please register so we can send you the zoom link:

or email:

Great community and

Fun Back to the Future “waste” themed interactive game show!

 This event also serves as Zero Waste Washington’s annual meeting. Members can vote for board members by going online here. Board members up for re-election are Teresa Jones, Shirlee Tan, and Kyle Loring. New board member candidates are Mai Nguyen, Jay ONeal, and Holly Beale. Ballots must be received by Dec. 1.

The Big Day the Waste-Free Way: Low-Waste Weddings … and other events

By Michelle Alten-Kaehler, Development Coordinator

Flowers drape a wedding arch. A gown shimmers, pressed and ready for the bride. Tables, with china and bouquets await the guests. The celebration can begin! But wait! What about wedding waste? Flowers, decorations, and leftovers often travel to landfills, while bridal gowns retire to closets, never to be worn again. And what about those party favors?

I tackled this conundrum earlier this year while helping my daughter plan her wedding. I had recently heard an environmental consultant talk about event waste. It got me thinking. Could we plan a zero-waste wedding? Could we pull it off? I want to share some wedding-waste wisdom–successes and failures–which might apply to big occasion events you might be planning.


Early actions

To kick-off the low-waste wedding, our daughter sent an electronic Save the Date followed by an online invitation. She saved trees but also had fun posting photos and stories on the website so friends and family could look forward to the special day.

Brides for a Cause has a large selection of dresses


A wedding dress should be fun and reflect the bride’s style. But could it also be waste-free? Well, maybe not entirely. For a more sustainable gown, we discovered there are a range of options from consignment shops, online classified sites, to dress rental businesses, and sample sales. You can find great gowns ranging from sensual elegance to lacy vintage. Brides for a Cause, in Seattle and Tacoma, for example, sells samples and donated gently used dresses, with proceeds going to nonprofits that benefit women.

It’s important to keep in mind that almost all dresses will require tailoring, which is often pricey, and some may need costly cleaning. Erin Scharf, founder and executive director of Brides for a Cause, recommends using a dry cleaner that has experience cleaning wedding dresses since bridal fabrics are delicate. If you buy gently used, you may want to look for one that needs minimal adjusting and has been cleaned before you purchase it.

A Memorable Low-Waste Feast

Whether going gourmet or casual, it will take planning to avoid waste. You will need everything from wine glasses to dishes. If you choose a venue that provides both food and durable service ware, your job will be easier because they have dishwashing and serviceware storage already factored into their operations. However, many couples today are choosing beautiful farms, environmental centers, and other wedding venues where everything must be brought in.

Traditional party rental companies carry everything from dishes, glasses, and silverware to napkins, and water goblets, but this can quickly add up to big costs.

There is another option–reusable salvaged or vintage plates. Eclectic is in! A friend headed to the thrift shop and collected an assortment of plates to buy for her event and then re-donate. She avoided older Corelle dishes because she noted that some have been found to contain lead. After the wedding, she donated the dishes to recent immigrants for their apartments.

If you don’t have time to go on a treasure hunt, companies like Durable Dish will do it for you. Founder, and Zero Waste Washington board member, Hannah Johnson explains that their service ware is salvaged from Goodwill’s “rag off” pile. “This means that dishware that has not sold that would typically go to landfill is repurposed into usable dishware during events.”

To complete your table settings, you can buy new or used cloth serviettes and, after your event, resell them online or place on Buy Nothing.

Since food waste is a tremendous source of methane gas in landfills, at our daughter’s wedding we had asked the caterer to pack up leftovers to put in our freezer or to bring to a shelter. But the Texas barbecue was so tasty that not much remained… We were so pleased how little waste went into the landfill.

At a friend’s wedding, caterers boxed leftover pizza for people to take home. Guests promptly snapped it up! You can also ask your caterer if they collect and compost plate scraps. Unfortunately, most hotels will not pro-actively provide boxes for left-over food so you will want to bring your own.

Flowers and other décor

Flowers and greenery add a personal touch to any wedding. But are they truly compostable? At my daughter’s wedding, we forgot that wire would prevent us from putting garlands in our own or the city’s compost bin. Loose table bouquets and cuttings can avoid this problem. For the wedding arch, bouquets tied to the frame with jute will be more compost friendly. Buying live plants to add later to your garden is even better or can be take-home gifts for your guests.

To create a splash with additional décor, try Buy Nothing. Also check what your venue has on hand. At the farm that hosted our daughter’s wedding, we found a whole barn neatly stocked with vases, name tag holders, battery candles, and more. If you do buy special items, think about passing them on to other future brides.


Today many wedding couples may prefer honeymoon contributions over traditional china and crystal. And what about party favors? Skip the knick-knacks! Most of them will end up in the landfill. Some couples have come up with creative alternatives, such as chocolates or other treats, live plants, and personal photos or cartoons. A friend hired Michelle Lassaline, artist creator of You as an Animal, to draw delightful cartoons of guests which they could take home.

Happily ever after

We didn’t truly accomplish a zero-waste wedding. Our efforts were far from perfect. But as we pulled away from the farm in Eastern Washington, our rented van heaped with empty wine bottles and bags of compostables, we wore smiles the size of Lake Wenatchee. They say less is more. We had achieved the low-waste wedding—joyful for the couple but also for the earth.

Resources for planning a low-waste wedding or event

Sustainable Wedding Planner

If you decide to hire a wedding planner, you will find consultants who specialize in green weddings.

Gently Worn Bridal Gowns

  • Brides for a Cause is located in Seattle and Tacoma: visit
  • Seattle Wedding Dress Rental:
  • Gown and Glove Consignment, 1521 Cornwall Bellingham, WA 98225, (360) 922-0019,
  • Dearly Consignment Bridal Shop, 123 E Sprague Ave, Spokane, WA 99202. (509) 474-1183;
  • Blue Sky Bridal, 561 NE Ravenna Blvd, Seattle, WA 98115, (206) 783-8700;

Sustainable Event Management and Dishware

Durable Dish at Human Eco Consulting

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

Seattle GiveCamp – tech volunteers helped us fix our inventory management

By Sara Dandy, Communications Specialist at Furniture Repair Bank and Xenia Dolovova, Waste Reduction Programs Director

Managing inventory at our Furniture Repair Bank is not an easy task. Seattle GiveCamp came to the rescue. Each year, in October, they bring together a large group of technology, marketing, and social media professionals who volunteer over a weekend to create solutions for non-profit organizations in the region.

We needed a solution

As the first non-profit furniture repair bank in the nation, there isn’t an existing inventory management system that aligns with our process. When receiving donated damaged furniture, we need to track more than just what the item is, like “chair” or “couch.” Every item has different issues requiring a unique type of work to bring it back to life. Is it wood? Composite? Stained? Painted? Upholstered?

Seattle GiveCamp

Enter Seattle GiveCamp! For the past 12 years, Seattle GiveCamp has provided pro-bono software development with weekend-long “hackathons” for good, held on the Microsoft Redmond campus. Programmers, designers, and other software professionals donate their time to create web, desktop and mobile software for regional non-profit organizations. With the help of their talented volunteers, we were able to tackle our inventory management dilemma and come up with a solution that worked for our unique situation.

Big thanks go to our fabulous volunteer team:

  • Carmin Atrops – Software Engineer & longstanding volunteer Product Manager
  • Adhaar Gupta – Program Manager at Microsoft
  • Ramesh Emarajan – Program Manager at Monolithic Power Systems
  • Leo Kukharau – Software Engineer at Microsoft
  • Sergii Otryshko – Software Engineer at Retrocasual
  • Juan Carlos Toledo – Sr. Supply Chain Manager at Amazon

“We had an incredible time building out an inventory management system for the Furniture Repair Bank at Seattle GiveCamp! Very appreciative to our team who were so generous with their time and expertise! You all were genuinely a joy to work with. Looking forward to putting the system into practice and expanding our reach to provide even more families with lovingly-refinished furniture.” – Carmin

We needed a strong way to manage items in our tight space

Juan’s expertise in warehouse management experience was just as vital to the process as the technical acumen provided by our other team members. The team brainstormed warehouse management, space setup, and the flow of items, and helped us prioritize what should be included in our inventory management system while building on our current work processes.

Our new system now tracks each donated furniture item from the initial donation request form, through refurbishment, and finally delivery to a refugee or low income family (referred by one of our partner agencies). This streamlined process not only tracks the movement of each item through our space but also helps us tell the circular story of furniture repair and the impact our work has on those we help.


Thank you!

Our hardworking volunteer team devoted their Friday night, entire Saturday, and most of Sunday to our project. We were truly honored to have them provide their skills to solve our problem and were lucky to share many jokes and laughs along the way. The entire experience was so positive and uplifting that it did not even feel like work.

“It was great to meet you, Xenia Dolovova! Thanks for your energy, hard work, and dedication this weekend! It was a privilege to support Furniture Repair Bank and see ALL the improvements you and your team accomplished” – Seattle GiveCamp

“First and foremost, the weekend was a dream come true. I feel like I got to give time back to a great cause, and I got to see firsthand how product management works and get some exposure that I think charged my batteries and motivated me to try and learn more. I’m very grateful to you and Carmin, and would love to stay involved with your org.” – Juan Carlos Toledo

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

Our end-of-year fundraising campaign is underway

Zero Waste Washington relies on our community to sustain our programs and policy initiatives. That is you!

With amazing support from so many this past year, Zero Waste Washington and our partners have made strong progress toward reducing waste and instigating systems changes to make it easier for everyone to repair, reuse, recycle and re-imagine.

Our work is not done. Funds raised during this last month of this year will provide critical momentum for our advocacy and program work as we head into 2024. Please consider a generous, tax-deductible gift [click here] today to support our work and impact our future actions.

Please, take a look at our Year in Review here– to see what we’ve accomplished in 2023 with more to come in 2024!

Taking in the King County Cedar Hills landfill

This fall, Zero Waste Washington hosted, in partnership with King County staff, three in-depth tours of the Cedar Hills Regional Landfill in Maple Valley. Built in 1965, the landfill today takes waste from about 68% of King County’s population. Everything about the landfill was massive. We saw compactors that weigh 60 tons and have huge metal spikes on their wheels.

The 500-acre landfill is in constant motion. Waste trucks endlessly arrive and tip their 20 to 27 ton loads into what looks like a sea of plastic. Compactors continuously drive back and forth to tamp the waste down, but the landfill is surprisingly spongy. We learned that overnight, sometimes tires and mattresses “float” their way up to the surface as they recover from being compacted.

In the distance beyond all of this trash action, we had beautiful views of Mt Rainier.

Plastic in the foreground… Mt. Rainier in the distance


Tippers unload transfer trailers, heaped with up to 27 tons of waste. In 2021, Cedar Hills took in 869,150 tons of garbage.

Cedar Hills extracts methane gas from the landfill, a much more potent greenhouse gas than CO2 in the short term. It then transmits methane in pipes to an onsite Bio Energy Washington (BEW) plant, where the company converts it to biogas. Right now, however, all of the methane gas is being flared and is not being used due to issues with the pipes and maintenance needs.

Three tour groups learned what it takes to deal with all our garbage!

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! Your gift enables us to continue making Washington State’s waterways, communities, and the air we breathe healthy and waste free.

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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