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King County announces winner of 'Recycle More Neighborhood Challenge'

June 26, 2008

King County announces winner of ‘Recycle More Neighborhood Challenge’

Six Renton neighbors put their trash on a diet and lost 290 pounds of garbage

For the past five weeks, as part of King County’s “Recycle More. It’s Easy to Do” education campaign, six Renton neighbors put their trash to the test. The neighbors competed to see how much weight their garbage could lose, with a weekly trash weigh-in as the gage of their progress.

Today, the neighbors gathered once more for a final trash weigh-in and to discover which family would be crowned the winners of King County’s “Recycle More Neighborhood Challenge.”

After calculating the numbers, King County EcoConsumer Tom Watson declared the Gallagher family the winners, with an astonishing 82 percent loss of their total garbage weight.

“I kept an eye on what I was buying and bringing into the house, and avoided buying things with excess packaging or that had packaging that couldn’t be recycled,” said Rebecca Gallagher. “I also set up our house so that it was easy to recycle.”

For losing the most garbage weight, the Gallaghers were awarded a $100 gift certificate to IKEA, a Chinook Book ecofriendly coupon book and a home recycling makeover from Watson.

Baiba and Joe Rubino took second place, dropping their garbage weight by 63 percent over the course of the five-week challenge. Carrie and Glenn Gesell finished third, lopping off about 42 percent of their garbage’s weight.

“One fact that really stood out is that there was virtually no food scraps in anyone’s garbage,” Watson said, adding that food waste can be added to the yard waste bin in about 85 percent of King County neighborhoods.

The Recycle More Neighborhood Challenge is part of the King County’s Solid Waste 2008 “Recycle More. It’s Easy to Do” education campaign. The goal of the contest and campaign is to encourage King County residents to increase their recycling at home, to meet the county’s goal of zero waste or resources by 2030.

“All of the participants did an amazing job at increasing their recycling rates and reducing their garbage,” said King County Solid Waste Division Director Kevin Kiernan. “Collectively, this neighborhood lost 290 pounds of trash during the four-week challenge. If they adopted this as a lifestyle, in one year alone, these six neighbors could reduce their trash output by 3796 pounds. That is a big savings to the environment.”

Increasing recycling rates conserves natural resources and saves room in the county landfill for the things that really need to be there. Waste prevention is another way to conserve resources. This means reusing things instead of buying new ones. It also means reducing. For example, you can save paper and time by sending invitations electronically. Evite (, the most popular free online invitation service, allows guests to view who has accepted the invitation and read their comments.

Although nearly 90 percent of King County residents participate in their curbside recycling program, more than half of what ends up in King County’s Cedar Hills Regional Landfill is readily recyclable.

“Our city is committed to being a leader in reducing waste and improving recycling and we’re proud that our community volunteered to be a part of this important effort,” said Renton Mayor Denis Law. “Although nearly 90 percent of King County residents participate in their curbside recycling program, more than half of what ends up in King County’s Cedar Hills Regional Landfill is readily recyclable,” he added.

Recycling education played a big role in waste reduction as well.

“I didn’t know I could recycle wrapping paper and cardboard delivery pizza boxes could go in the yard waste container,” said contestant Carrie Gesell. “I also learned not to put the plastic ‘clam shell’ blueberry cartons and metal baby food lids in recycling, and to throw out the lids before recycling my water bottles.”

The Renton neighborhood challenge is intended to illustrate to King County residents that they can increase their recycling and collectively make a positive impact on the environment by following a few simple steps, including:

• Knowing what recyclables are in the garbage
• Setting up a convenient recycling location or two at home
• Involving the entire family in recycling
• Making an effort to clean out recyclable containers
• Adding food scraps to yard waste bins (in most cities and unincorporated areas)

For more information about recycling in King County, visit