Thurston County Connection Newsletter
Thurston County Connection
Thurston County Connection
March, 2014
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Recently Elected Officials Honored at Swearing In Ceremonies

Service Comes First

Thurston County’s Specialty Courts Hit Milestone

One Family, One Judge.

Sheriff Recognizes Contributions to the Community

Romance on Mound Prairie

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 The New Three R’s: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.

How Schools Can Get Involved.

Call for a Presentation or Tour. Thurston County Solid Waste can make education about reducing waste easy. Presentations within elementary schools use multiple visual aids, hands-on activities, games, and take-home materials to help students enjoy and retain the information learned. Through these one-hour presentations, the waste reduction and recycling messages can become part of the learning experience throughout the school year. Presentation topics include waste reduction, recycling, composting, hazardous waste, and more. Students learn how to become responsible citizens and make sound decisions for the environment. By teaching about waste reduction and recycling concepts, students can take their knowledge home and educate their families and even their communities further.

Another learning opportunity for students, and other groups, is to tour the Waste and Recovery Center in Hawks Prairie to see first hand how much trash is created here in Thurston County. The visual impact of one day’s trash can create a lasting impression. The tour illustrates the effects of all that trash, and the measures needed to help protect the environment. Included is a visit to HazoHouse (Thurston County’s household hazardous waste facility); the Recycling Center; the methane flare station; the Yard Debris Site; and the leachate pre-treatment pond.

Join “Food to Flowers”. The leftover bologna sandwiches, apple cores, and dirty napkins from a local school could end up in your yard -- as compost, thanks to the Food to Flowers school organics recycling program.

Over the past year Thurston County residents have become acquainted with the new curbside Food Plus Organics Recycling program from LeMay. That same curbside service is heading into schools. The Food to Flowers program brings the Food Plus Organics Recycling program into schools for the benefit of students, staff, and faculty. Thurston County Solid Waste provides schools with free training, set-up assistance, signage, student activities, and other related material.

The Food to Flowers program is a logical step for schools to take to become more environmentally friendly. In fact, the organic material is sent locally to Rainer-based Silver Springs Organics, a state-of-the-art commercial composting facility. Otherwise food scraps, food-soiled paper, and yard debris are sent to Eastern Washington for permanent disposal - which is much more costly for schools. The compost that is produced from the Food to Flowers program creates a valuable, nutrient-rich soil amendment used to enrich yards and gardens.

The Food to Flowers program has produced some amazing results. Participating Thurston County schools have seen an approximate 75% reduction in kitchen and cafeteria waste. Last year, Tumwater Hill Elementary's 428 students produced an average of less than 7 pounds of trash in their lunchroom per day!

Become a Washington Green School! Starting now, both public and private K-12 schools across Washington State can sign up at Washington Green Schools to participate in a new green schools program. This voluntary program provides on-line resources and tools that students, teachers, and staff can use to assess and take actions to 'green up' school campuses and operations. Through achievements at five different program levels, schools gain certification status and awards such as a flag and public recognition.

The program emphasizes five environmental categories:

  • Energy Efficiency
  • Recycling and Waste Reduction
  • Toxics reduction and Indoor Air Quality
  • Transportation and Outdoor Air Quality
  • Water Quality and Conservation


School participation can lead to environmental and economic benefits such as reduced garbage and increased recycling rates, healthier indoor and outdoor air quality, lower utility costs, and less waste. In addition, students gain valuable leadership and community service skills as well as hands-on environmental education. More than 20 schools are already participating in the program.

For more information about any of these programs, contact Colleen Uuereb by e-mail at uuerebc@co.thurston.wa.us or by phone at 360-786-5269.

By Colleen Uuereb

Environmental education for pre-schoolers. Environmental education for pre-schoolers.