Submitted by Thurston County Solid Waste
Thurston County Solid Waste wants to hear from the community on two very important topics.
The first topic is the issue of wasted food. As a nation, we waste 40% of all food produced. This has significant financial, environmental and social impacts – there is no good side. The County is working on reducing this waste through three projects, with more planned. Solid Waste has been assisting local schools with reducing lunchroom waste for several years, even providing free milk machines and durable cups.
A very successful grant project with Thurston County Food Bank provided needed infrastructure to enable the organization to increase donations of prepared food from caterers, stores, schools, and restaurants. Earlier this year, Solid Waste launched a residential awareness campaign aimed at helping residents. “The average American throws out 25% of the food they buy,” according to Terri Thomas, with Thurston Solid Waste. “However, most people don’t realize it because it happens here and there, bit by bit.” In order to fine tune and expand their efforts, the waste reduction team wants information on waste habits and perception. They have developed a quick online survey that can be found at www.WasteLessFood.com.
While you are at the website, you can learn about an exciting radio contest, and of course, how to reduce the food you waste. Since a family of four throws out about $1600 a year in wasted food, it’s worth the time to take a look.
The second topic focuses on the bag ordinances that took effect July 1 in the cities of Tumwater, Olympia and Lacey, and the unincorporated areas of Thurston County. “Now that the community has adjusted a bit, it’s important that we check in with customers and retailers to get a good picture of how it’s working after four months,” said Thomas. The new law prohibits most retailers from providing single-use plastic carryout bags. It also requires them to charge a minimum of five cents for large paper bags, which the stores keep. The fee helps offset the higher cost of paper bags and acts as an incentive for customers to bring reusable bags. Customers using EBT and other assistance programs are exempt from the charge.
The two online plastic bag surveys—one for retailers and one for customers—are available at www.ThurstonSolidWaste.org/plastics. Retailers can also download signs at the “Resources for Retailers” link on the site, and post in their stores to encourage customers to take the survey. To be notified when the status report on the plastic bag ordinances is released, the community can sign up for the online newsletter while at the site.
For more information about waste reduction programs, or these surveys, contact Terri Thomas at Thomaste@co.thurston.wa.us or (360) 867-2279.