Invest in our planet!
For Earth Day 2022, our focus is on less is more, and looking at how we can invest in the planet by withdrawing unwanted items from the environment, and taking steps to prevent future "deposits." Less is more when it comes to protecting the environment — less plastic bags, less litter, less food waste, and less single-use serviceware adds up to more sustainable living.
Roadside litter is a big problem in Washington. Our research shows that 75% of Washingtonians don’t litter — but the actions of those who do result in dangerous road conditions, expensive cleanups, and harmful environmental impacts. That's why we worked with consultants and stakeholders to create the "We Keep WA Litter Free" brand in English and Spanish (LitterFreeWA.org and PorUnWAImpecable.org) to help prevent litter in Washington.
We need everyone’s help to keep roads, communities, and natural areas healthy, safe, and litter-free. There are many small daily choices you can make that have big impacts.
- Get and use a litter bag in your vehicle.
- When you’re driving, toss your trash in a bin at your destination or a stop along the way.
- Cover and secure items you’re hauling in a pickup or trailer.
- If you smoke, keep a portable ashtray in your vehicle.
- Encourage your friends and family to live litter free.
Plastic bag ban
In October 2021, a single-use plastic bag ban went into effect statewide to encourage reuse of bags. The new bags are a little thicker, contain at least 20% post-consumer recycled content, and can be re-used 125 times! By encouraging reuse of bags, we can prevent the single-use bags from becoming waste in the first place.
Here's how you can help:
- Bring Your Own Bag (BYOB)! To reduce waste and avoid paying for paper or thick reusable plastic bags, bring your own reusable bags. If you don’t have reusable bags, the lower cost thick compliant bags that retailers are selling are reusable up to 125 times — and should be!
- Tell us if businesses are still using the banned, single-use plastic bags by filling out and submitting the observation reporting form. We can then reach out to these businesses and provide education on the law to them and bring them into compliance. We can’t provide technical assistance or enforcement without your reports.
- Don't recycle plastic bags or other plastic film in curbside or drop off recycling bins. If you have plastic bags that you want to recycle, please use the drop-off locator tool on the Plastic Film Recycling web-site to find drop off locations that handle this material.
Food waste reduction
This year, Ecology published the Use Food Well Washington Plan. This plan maps out how we can cut the state's food waste in half by 2030, and includes strategies to prevent food waste and wasted food, rescue edible food, and recover food waste. When implemented in full, it has the potential to reduce edible food waste by at least 295,000 tons per year. This is critical when over two million Washingtonians experienced food insecurity in 2020 (food insecurity means access by all people at all times to have enough food for an active, healthy life).
Here are ways you can help reduce food waste and support hunger relief in Washington:
Single-use serviceware law
Washington passed a law limiting single-use food serviceware that went into effect on Jan 1, 2022. This law reduces waste by requiring food service businesses and institutions no longer automatically include these items in customer orders. Your favorite restaurant should already be asking if you want any items with your order, or they can be set up in a self-serve station for you to grab only what you need. Whichever way it is done, this simple change encourages all of us to pause and ask ourselves "Do I really need that unnecessary plastic item?"
Here's how you can help reduce our reliance on single-use items:
- Take only what you need — when offered or asking for serviceware, take only what you need so you don’t waste more items than necessary.
- BYO! Bring Your Own reusables and avoid having to throw anything away.
- Inform your local businesses of this law or tell us if they continue distributing serviceware without confirming with customers that they want it. We're happy to provide the education and technical assistance needed to bring these businesses and organization into the new era of less waste.