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Spring 2020

On January 1st the City of Olympia made some changes to their curbside recycling program. They will no longer be picking up glass, poly-coated materials like milk/juice cartons, frozen food boxes, etc, and aseptic containers, like soy milk cartons, broth boxes, etc. Your only option, that I’m aware of, for poly-coated and aseptic containers is the garbage. Glossy papers, such as cereal boxes and advertisements can be recycled because they don’t contain the extra fibers that are in these containers.

While no one wants to put more things into the landfill, the City of Olympia assures us that modern landfills are designed to keep our waste materials contained and not contaminate groundwater or adjacent soils. Roosevelt landfill, where Olympia’s trash goes, captures methane gas and uses it to produce electricity.

Here are some places you can bring your glass for recycling. All of these options are free! We recommend getting together with your neighbors and creating a sort of carpool, for glass recycling. That way you don’t have to make the trip as often. Or pay gas money to the neighbor with the truck. Glass should be dumped directly into the bins without bags.

City of Olympia Saturday Drop-off Site
1000 10th Ave SE, Olympia, WA 98501
Glass-only bin available 24/7

Yauger Park
503 Alta St SW, Olympia, WA 98502
Glass-only bin available dawn-dusk daily

Concrete Recyclers
2935 Black Lake Blvd SW, Tumwater, WA 98512
Open Monday-Saturday 8 a.m.-4 p.m.

Thurston County Transfer Station
2418 Hogum Bay Rd, Lacey, WA 98516
Open 8 a.m.- 4:45 p.m. daily, they also have an off leash dog park with two large, fenced fields, one for large and one for small dogs, as well as a walking trail, a demonstration garden of native plants, and a playground made from recycled materials. Bring your dogs and kids to play and recycle!

The glass currently goes to Concrete Recyclers to be crushed and used as aggregate material for road and construction base material. The City of Olympia is asking customers to please comply with these changes. Correct recycling saves the City close to $100,000 dollars annually, which translates directly to customer rates, and greatly improves the marketability and value of what the city does collect for recycling.

Pioneer Recycling Services, the city’s contracted processing facility, finds outlets for recyclable materials both domestically and globally. Because China stopped taking material, resulting in large supplies both nationally and globally, the average value of materials has dropped significantly. Even though the cost to recycle is at or above landfill disposal, it’s still better environmentally to recycle. If you continue to put glass into your cart, the city may remove your recycling cart entirely. If you have further questions, contact Kim Johnson at 360.570.5837 or kjohnson@ci.olympia.wa.us.

Some other things you can recycle at the Thurston County Transfer station that aren’t a part of curbside recycling are:

Polystyrene (also known as Styrofoam™) molded blocks and rinsed or wiped clean food containers with a #6 recycle symbol. Foam can be put into a clear or translucent bag and food containers in separate bags.

No packaging peanuts, but you can call the packing peanut hotline at 1-800-828-2214. I did a little investigative reporting and called. I spoke with a very nice man in Maryland. While it’s a national service, they can take your zip code and tell you who in your community might take packing peanuts. You will still need to contact the business to see if they are currently taking them. He also told me about a national website, www.earth911.com, where you can enter your zip code and ask about recycling virtually anything and it will offer you a list of places that might take them.

Household hazardous waste, things that include the words POISON, DANGER, WARNING or CAUTION on the label can be taken to the HazoHouse, which is open daily from 8 – 5, though you must be there by 4:45 to get in. All of these services are free for residents and can be driven to without going through the pay portion of the dump. Businesses must register and pay a fee.

A couple of resources outside the Thurston County Transfer station are:

Washington State’s Department of Ecology’s 1-800-RECYCLE, which is both a hotline and an online site, http://1800recycle.wa.gov/, for finding out where to recycle, including electronics.

https://2good2toss.com/ is Washington’s online exchange for reusable building materials and household items.

If your curbside recycling is through Le May, you are still able to recycle glass in a separate recycling bin. Le May also has a website, Waste Wizard, that will tell you where to recycle items you type in, www.thurston.lemayinc.com

Clearly, the fewer items we use and more items we can reuse, the better. We have many Co-op members who are wizards of reducing and reusing and we want to share their expertise and ideas with you.

Introducing three fantastic Co-op Eco Shoppers! Jamie Rainwood let me accompany her on a shopping trip at the eastside Co-op. Between hugs and hellos from Co-op staff and shoppers, Jamie talked to me about her Co-op shopping system.

Jamie reuses plastic bags; she takes them home and washes them after shopping. She dries them on a bag drying rack, pictured below. She bought hers at the Co-op and hopes we will sell them again. This system works for Jamie because she makes the time to do it. She recognizes that this may not work for everyone.

Jamie uses plastic clothespins to fasten the bags and write the PLUs (the number the cashier puts into the register) for her bulk items. It works well for the cashiers. She can then wipe the clothespins clean and have them ready for reuse next trip. Jamie prints out her shopping list, in Spanish to keep her Spanish current, and brings it along.

Jamie says that the San Francisco Street Bakery plastic bread bags, cleaned and reused, keep mushrooms very fresh. At some point a bag’s usefulness will come to an end, she then uses those bags to wrap meat and fish wrappers in order to keep a cleaner kitchen. She actually prepares the meat or fish right on the bag before tossing it with the wrapper.

Jamie brings along her tote bags to pack her groceries out of the store. She and her partner like to buy new totes on vacations. They are reusable and a fun way to remember a trip.

Pam Chase is another shopper with some great eco-shopping techniques, similar to Jamie’s. She keeps the equipment she needs in her kitchen. She has a large shopping list with PLUs that she prints out and checkmarks the things she needs. She has it on a clipboard with an attached pen, all ready for her next shopping trip.

Pam has specific containers, each one the specific size and shape that is appropriate for that item, which she labels with the name, PLU and tare (weight of the container) on masking tape, on the sides so she can see them in her cupboard, and on the top, for the cashier. Pam showed me a Nancy’s yogurt container she still uses that dates from the 90’s. They’re very durable, she says.

Like Jamie, Pam brings totes for carrying her groceries. She also reuses plastic bags, but dries hers on a clothesline that is strung above her washer and dryer with clothespins. She values making her own food. She eats a lot of grains and beans, which she buys from bulk. The food tastes better and is way more affordable that way. Although Pam is going the extra mile, once she got this system set up she says that it really does save her time.

Amber Ferrano hates to waste anything. She saves money every way she can so she can afford to water her garden and other things that are important to her. She brings washed and sterilized containers into the Co-op for people to use for their bulk goods and salad bar. She even brings in wine bottles always with the corks attached by rubber bands. They’re great for soaps, oils, and vinegars, and some people take them for their homemade kombucha or wine. She keeps a hanging organizer on her kitchen door that has a section for reused plastic bags and the containers she is bringing to the Co-op.

Amber urges people not to bring in containers that aren’t useful, clean and sterilized. She’s had the experience of having her food mold because a used container wasn’t sterilized. She would also like to see more people using these containers. She encourages the Co-op to have signs near our new containers reminding people that there are containers for reuse. She’s had the experience of using a new container for her maple syrup, forgetting to use a used container even though she had just brought some in!

I agree and want to remind people that they can get $.30 off soup and salad bar if they use their own container and $.05 off their coffee, tea or matte.

Amber has many clever up-cycling ideas, some she’s come up with herself, some from Pinterest. For example, when she only uses part of a seed packet, she’s found that labeled medicine or jam jars will keep the seeds fresh for planting next year. She’s had a possum chew through her plastic containers to eat all her seeds.

You can also organize screws and nails and bolts in jam jars and if you want to get fancy, you can nail the lids to a board that you hang and screw the bottles into them, thereby saving space on a table.

Amber takes her emptied plant containers to her local Master Gardeners. She sows seeds in egg cartons. She has found that plastic coffee cups with dome lids make perfect little greenhouses. Put a little gravel in the bottom, soil over top and it’s a mini terrarium. She also adds Styrofoam under the soil in her large pots to make them lighter.

She saves suet containers and then makes her own suet. She takes wine bottles and cuts the tops off to make wind chimes and used the bottoms to make terrariums. She’s known people who have used the bottom circles in their walks. Once people get ideas, Amber says, they just keep going.

By Monica Peabody
Staff Collective Member

Co-op Table Spring 2020 PDF

Table Magazine, Spring 2020,, cover image

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