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.


Our summer newsletter is coming out just as we’re heading into fall. We delayed publication till today because we want you to know about two exciting events that just got scheduled: the Recycle BC Product Stewardship Virtual Tour (October 27) and the first Zero Waste Hackathon and Innovation Waste Summit (November 30).

COVID-19, wildfires, floods, and racial reckoning protests have made 2020 a year of profound upheaval and change. These are all critical issues that require us to think about and examine how such deep systematic shifts intersect with our work. We are committed to do this work in our board, staff, and program development.

Paint and Medicine Return laws

A quick update on the paint and medicine return laws passed in the last few years by the legislature. The programs mandated by both of these take-back laws were scheduled to begin this year but due to COVID-19, they are having a slower rollout. In the meantime, we are pleased to announce that Bartell Drugs has joined the medicine return program and you can now take your unwanted medicine there. Click here to find all of the current return locations (retail, sheriff offices, hospitals) in Washington: We will keep you posted about full implementation statewide.

Please stay safe this fall. We look forward to seeing you at our virtual events and in-person once it’s safe enough to get together again. We are busy tee’ing up bills for the January legislative session which is expected to be online. We will provide those details in our Fall newsletter.

Thank you for all that you are doing to help create a zero-waste future.



Executive Director

Support your ability to “bring your own container” in Washington: comments due September 29
By Elisabeth Archer, Waste Reduction Strategist

Now more than ever, it is clear that our environment cannot withstand the onslaught of single use plastics. The proposed new Washington State Food Code Rules would allow consumers to bring their own refillable containers to a broad range of food establishments. The time has finally come for all of us to send comments in support of the rule to the WA State Board of Health. Please send an email or click our link to autosend an email to the Department of Health to support the rule by September 29. Your comment will make a difference.

It has been over a year in the making

Important changes allowing people to “bring your own container” as part of the state’s Food Safety Rules have been under consideration for over a year. Due to COVID-19, the State Board of Health delayed their hearing and vote till now. Public comments are due September 29. The public hearing is October 13.

The draft language of “Refilling Reusable Containers” (WAC 246-215-03348), also referred to as “bring your own container,” is part of the Food Safety Code update. Zero Waste Washington proposed language to the State Food Safety Advisory Committee and the Department of Health (DOH) staff in spring 2019. DOH staff included the “bring your own container” provisions in the draft sent out for informal public comment last June. You responded to our alert and sent a flood of comments and DOH staff made the language even stronger.

Send an auto-email expressing your opinion

Now it’s time to contact DOH again. They are accepting comments until September 29 midnight. We hope you will make your voice heard. We need to make sure that the WA State Board of Health hears from consumers that support this new proposed language.

To support the new “bring your own container” rule language in Washington, click here to send an auto-email to DOH staff:

OR send your own email directly

If you would like to send your own email, please send to:

Or use the online comment form: Rules Comment, Search for Chapter 246-215 WAC and Add Comment

Sample email

Dear Mr. Beaton,

I am writing to support the changes to the WA food code, WAC 246-215-03348 Refilling Returnables, that allow consumers to bring their own containers for buying and refilling food and beverages. This will benefit businesses, consumers, municipalities, and the environment:

  • Businesses will save money by purchasing fewer single-use to-go foodware items
  • Consumers will have less waste at home and be exposed to fewer hazardous chemicals from plastic.
  • Municipalities will save money in disposal costs.
  • The environment will have less waste blowing into our waterways, and less trash and use of plastics.

Thank you for listening to consumers and helping to reduce waste.


Your name and address (they need to know you live in WA)

Sample Talking Points (if desired, use 1 or 2 of these points and add your own personal story):

  • When consumers bring their own container, it will save money for businesses AND there will be fewer items to have to recycle (also saving money).
  • Fewer single-use, disposable “to go” containers will help reduce plastic pollution littered in the environment, keep more items out of the landfill, and reduce plastic contamination of the compost stream. All of these benefits will also reduce community costs.
  • Washington State places highest priority on waste prevention. Bring your own container is true waste prevention.
  • Bringing your own container reduces the potential for toxic chemical transfer to food. Plastic containers have additives that can migrate to food (leaching is caused by heat exchange or from foods that are high in fat).
  • Fewer single-use food containers means reduction of the impacts of extraction, production, transportation and disposal of plastic, all of which contribute to greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Scientists have shown that Covid-19 is primarily transmitted by respiratory modes. We understand, though, that for now many businesses will not encourage people to bring their own containers. This rule update and your comments, therefore, are directed towards the future.

For more information

To see all potential rule changes, go to:

Attend the online Public Hearing on October 13, 2020, at 1:30pm, before the State Board of Health where they will discuss the proposed changes to the Food Service rule, chapter 246-215 WAC. To register and access the meeting online go to:

Last summer’s success!

Thanks to you, over 150 comments were received on this topic during the previous informal comment period last summer. This was the largest number of comments ever received on a proposed food rule change. Let’s keep up the pressure this time too!

Thank you all for your help in moving this issue forward. If you have any questions, please contact Elisabeth at

Online tour of Recycle BC recycling program, with legislators: October 27

Zero Waste Washington and our partners are co-sponsoring an online tour of the Recycle BC Packaging and Paper Product Extended Producer Responsibility program. Recycle BC is responsible for residential packaging and paper product recycling throughout British Columbia. The recycling program is funded by businesses that supply packaging and paper product to BC residents. This program as well as other Canadian and EU programs are considered models for what we might want to do in Washington and other states.

Washington’s State Senators Christina Rolfes and Mona Das and other legislators will also provide brief remarks as part of the tour. And you will hear from Recycle BC staff about how the whole system works, including a look at the various facilities, operations, and components that make the program run smoothly.

The tour will be hosted by the Washington State Recycling Association as a WRED (Washington Recycles Every Day) event. These educational events bring professionals and community members from all over Washington State together for discussion of recycling issues and behind the scenes tours of working facilities and technology demonstrations.

The event is free but pre-registration is required. Please click here to register:

We hope you will join us for this engaging event and learn about what we could do here in Washington.

Zero Waste Hackathon and Waste Summit

By Xenia Dolovova, Waste Reduction Program Manager, and Brian Allen, Zero Waste Hackathon Project Manager


We are excited to announce the first Pacific NW Zero Waste Hackathon and to cordially invite you to our fall Waste Summit on November 30. The Waste Summit will feature speakers talking about zero waste innovations and will include the final hackathon teams who will present their business ideas and winning awards. 

Waste Summit – November 30 (9 am – 3 pm)

The Pacific NW is full of entrepreneurs, researchers, and agencies who are helping lead the nation with their innovative ideas to help realize a zero-waste paradigm shift. Topics address solutions for the recycling crisis, reducing plastic pollution, and many aspects of waste reduction. Our annual waste summit will inspire you, and this year you can attend in the comfort of your home as it will be virtual. Stay tuned for speaker announcements. The November 30 event is free, but pre-registration is required (so we can send you the participation link in advance of the event):



Pacific NW Zero Waste Innovation Hackathon

This fall, we are launching the first Pacific NW Zero Waste Hackathon, which will be held virtually across five consecutive weeks from October through November 2020. The program includes mentoring, coaching, topic-area workshops, and more to prepare participating teams to develop and present their business ideas for zero-waste projects as they compete for over $5,000 in cash prizes.

The hackathon focuses on Pacific Northwest entrepreneurs interested in creating Zero Waste projects on the crucial first stage of any new project: the creative ideation of new innovations in a given sector. This fall 2020 program is designed to help enable these teams to carry their ideas forward to the many business plan competitions/accelerators in winter/spring 2021 taking place in the Pacific Northwest region.

We are seeking your participation in the Hackathon:

  • Competing teams – individuals and teams of up to 5 young innovators (current students and recent graduates.) – are encouraged to register by October 18. The program is open to all young leaders in WA, OR, ID, AK, and BC, Canada. We welcome individuals and formed teams of up to five people. Hackathon will take participants through the essentials of a feasible business plan, and train them on how to pitch their idea to the audience of investors to kick start their business.
  • Hackathon presenters – deliver Business Fundamentals talks during an online workshop session.
  • Coaches – make themselves available for consultations with all teams as needed, assisting them with specific questions about Business Fundamentals or Waste/Zero Waste Sector Topics throughout the entire program period (mid-Oct through Nov), on your own schedule.
  • Mentors – make themselves available for general or specific ongoing support assigned to a specific team during the program period and potentially beyond.
  • Judges – evaluate team presentations on competition days (either preliminary or final, which coincide with the Waste Summit on November 30), selecting our 2020 Zero Waste Hackathon champions! Judges can also serve as coaches.
  • Sponsors – help support the cash prizes, can present the awards personally, and spread the word that you are zero waste leadership companies or agencies.

The Hackathon seeks business experts with prior experience in areas such as Business Concept Ideation, Social Impact Structures / B-Corps, Team Building Skills, Market Analysis / Market Fit, Marketing Fundamentals, Basic Financials / Penciling Out, Story Writing / Storytelling, Elevator Pitch Development, Investor Pitch Structures, Presentation Deck Creation and Presentation Skills.

The Hackathon seeks waste sector experts with experience in areas such as Waste Management (General) Reuse/Repair/Recycling, Emissions, Food/Agriculture/Compost, Clothing & Fashion, Construction/Deconstruction, Energy/Storage, Media & Communications, Manufacturing/Circularity, Policy/Public Sector, Technology (Hardware or software) and Toxics & Green Chemistry

Find out more and register for Hackathon

To find out more information and to register for the Hackathon program and competition (student teams, mentors, presenters, coaches, and judges) click this link:

Will you help us write the next chapter for Zero Waste innovation in the Pacific Northwest?

For any questions and suggestions, please contact Xenia Dolovova at and Brian Allen at

Buy Nothing and share in your local gift economy

By Elisabeth Archer, Waste Reduction Strategist


We have two wonderful zero waste leaders here in the Pacific NW. Bainbridge Islanders – Liesl Clark and Rebecca Rockefeller – who started the Buy Nothing Project in 2013. And now they have distilled the last 12 years of trying to change the world by learning, networking and picking up plastic pollution on their local beaches into a new book, The Buy Nothing, Get Everything Plan: Discover the Joy of Spending Less, Sharing More, and Living Generously.

It is time to change a mindset

In an interview on the podcast Story Untold, Liesl explains how “we are trained to be in a scarcity mindset in which we feel like we need to amass all of these things.” She wants us “to see a different reality that already exists in front of us if we can just see it and take advantage of it, which is that when we start sharing our stuff and our skills with each other freely there’s this amazing abundance.” You can get a dopamine hit from giving, receiving, sharing, and connecting, not just shopping.

Liesl and Rebecca ask us to consider a fourth R beyond reduce, reuse, recycle: Refuse. By refusing to buy more stuff, they offer the alternative of creating or connecting to a social network where you can share stuff and skills. Everyone can be both a giver and a receiver. People have various motivations to Buy Nothing: financial, charitable, environmental. Regardless of the reasons, Liesl asks us, “Can we keep the materials that we have in our community, within our community without throwing it away, without wasting it?”


Buy Nothing plan

Their Buy Nothing plan is a 7-step action plan to help stay our unquenchable lust for more. We live in a material culture that has us ingrained with a communal obsession with stuff. According to a UCLA study, the average home has more than 300,000 items. In 2017 the average American bought 66 new garments. In a single community of 50 homes there might be close to 50 complete sets of home tools. So how do you go about attacking the root cause of consumption?

Step 1. Give: the magic of giving, money has no value

Step 2. Ask: there are so many durable goods in our communities that we should be able to find almost anything we need by asking.

Step 3. Reuse & Refuse: reusable items could be the most important step in Buy Nothing; reuse can save time, money and mental energy learning to let go of the survival-mode mentality of gathering and storing stuff

Step 4. Reflect: you get the community you invest in

Step 5. Make & Fix: we are not helpless.

Step 6. Share, Lend & Borrow: things we want to keep but don’t need every day; items we want to borrow but don’t need to own

Step 7. Gratitude: expressions of appreciation are a natural anti-depressant, they make everyone feel good including you.

Join one of the existing four thousand Buy Nothing Project local gift economies. There is a global network of volunteers and members, with no paid staff, that already exists in all fifty states, all provinces in Canada, and throughout Australia. Go to to find your local group. On the website there are links to templates and many additional resources.

Fix-it Fair going virtual …and Repair Economy Conference this fall

By Xenia Dolovova, Waste Reduction Program Manager


We are sure everyone is missing in-person Fix-it Fairs, visiting tool libraries and community sharing. Us too! We are missing the excitement of preparations for the events, happy faces when the fixes are done, and those chats between neighbors that create a special ambiance in the room.


To solve this, we are going to try virtual Fix-it Fairs and we are hosting a repair economy summit for leaders and volunteers of fix-it/repair events, tool libraries, and maker spaces in Washington and adjoining Vancouver BC, and Portland OR.

Virtual Fix-It Fair

New realities affected everyone, but we haven’t stopped working to make sure people have access to repairs. To solve this, we are piloting a virtual Fix-it Fair in partnership with one of the Tool Libraries, to help fix their electric tools. Later this year, we plan to host a virtual or drop off Fix-it Fair open for everyone. We are still working out the details.

If you are interested in being an online fixer demonstrator or if you would like to participate with a broken item, please check out our fix-it fair webpage to find out more and to sign up to be notified of the event. Please stay tuned.

Give us the name of your favorite repair shop

We are gathering a comprehensive database of repair shops across WA that everyone will be able to access to search for places to repair household items and clothing. While we are diligently researching those shops and individuals, we need your help in identifying your favorite places and individuals you go to for a repair.

You might ask how is it different from Yelp? Our database will be less commercial and will also include individual fixers who want to start their small business. Please send your ideas our way or fill out this form: It will only take a minute.

Repair Economy Conference planned for this fall

Together with a planning committee, we are planning for a virtual Repair Economy Summit this fall. Participants include leaders and volunteers of Fix-It/repair events, tool libraries, and maker spaces. The topics will cover the future of the repair movement, including COVID-19 impact and virtual presence, strategic planning, and other topics related to operations and sustainability of repair events, tool libraries, and maker spaces. This one-day conference will be free of charge and will be on a Saturday or Sunday in late October or early November (specific date TBD). To express your interest in attending the event, please email

Please email with questions and suggestions: Xenia Dolovova at and Kami Bruner at

Kalama methanol refinery: It is to make plastic! Comments due October 2

You might have heard about the methanol plant in Kalama, WA. It is being fought by activists on the basis of climate change concerns. If built, it would be the largest fracked-gas-to-methanol facility in the world! The facility would refine fracked gas piped in from the middle of the US and then send it in tanker ships to China to be used for making plastic products and used as fuel. Join us in submitting your comments by October 2.

Ecology’s new analysis reveals the climate pollution impacts
A refinery in Kalama on the Columbia River has been proposed for several years. The Washington Department of Ecology recently released a second Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS) which shows that refinery would be a major climate polluter.

The methanol refinery would use more fracked gas (up to 320 million cubic feet per day) than all of Washington’s gas-fired power plants combined. Sightline has provided an excellent assessment of the Ecology SEIS and problems associated with the facility:

Tell Ecology that you oppose a methanol refinery in Kalama

To express your concern about this facility, click here to send an email to Ecology:

OR send your own email directly

If you would like to send your own email, please send to:  or


Sample email

Subject: NO Methanol Refinery in Kalama

Dear Director Watson and Department of Ecology,

Please reject Northwest Innovation Work’s proposed methanol refinery in Kalama and deny its Shorelines Permit. I am concerned about climate change and the massive implications of this facility. I also am opposed to the continued proliferation of facilities that create chemicals to make more plastic.

The second Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement for the Kalama methanol refinery clearly shows that this project is a mistake for Washington. Northwest Innovation Works cannot be trusted to mitigate the impacts of this fracked gas refinery.

Please deny this project.


Your name and address (they need to know you live in WA)

Your support is welcome!

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. Actions each of us takes every day help reduce the amount of waste going into the trash!

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

Donate here

Zero Waste Washington

816 Second Avenue, Suite 200 * Seattle, WA * 98104

(206) 441-1790

View Other Newsletters