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It’s scary how much we throw away!

Every week, the average Pierce County resident sends about 24.5 lbs. of garbage to the 304th St. Landfill in Graham. This garbage graveyard is the only active landfill for Pierce County residents, including those in the City of Tacoma.

Much of what we send to the landfill doesn’t belong there
For the past five years, Pierce County has collected random samples from the garbage and sorted it into different categories. This ghoulish look into what we throw away helps us understand what’s in the garbage and what could be recycled instead.

What do we typically find? Wasted food, cardboard boxes, plastic bottles, cans, glass bottles and things like toys, clothes and books in good condition. Learn more about how we sort the garbage at piercecountywa.gov/wta

Help make the landfill a last resort for your stuff. Use our online recycling menu to find alternatives to your garbage can.

Example of wasted food collected during the annual waste sort
Example of wasted food collected during the annual waste sort

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30 years and better than ever!

To celebrate our anniversary, we're sending monthly updates with stories, learning opportunities and tips for sustainable living.


We hope you enjoy seeing what's happening in your community!

Please share your feedback and ideas with us.

Green teams inspire students and staff

Congratulations to Shining Mountain Elementary, one of Pierce County’s newest certified Washington Green Schools!

"Get Caught Green Handed" campaign poster
Our environmental educators help many Pierce County schools conduct waste sorts to help understand what’s in their garbage. Last year, Shining Mountain students pulled on gloves and dug deep into their school’s waste to see where paper, plastics, metals, food, etc. ended up each day. The students were shocked at what they found: wasted food, recyclables in the garbage, etc. The Green Team was formed and went to work encouraging everyone to do the right thing. Zoe, a 5th grade student said, “We learned to take care of our school and our community by recycling!”

A few highlights:

  • Classroom “share boxes” for unopened food items
  • Regular daily announcements where Green Team members shared waste reduction and recycling actions and reminders
  • “Get Caught Green Handed” waste reduction and recycling campaign
  • Classroom presentations and posters created by Green Team students for ongoing waste reduction and recycling education
Shining Mountain students sorting the school's garbage
Shining Mountain students sorting the school's garbage

The Green Team and their “Get Caught Green Handed” campaign helped the school reduce waste and increase recycling. A second waste sort showed 22% fewer recyclables in the garbage. Fidelity, who is in the 5th grade, said, “I think the school’s share box challenge has really helped,” reduce the amount of unopened food going into the garbage.

Thanks to schools like Shining Mountain, green teams all over Pierce County are taking charge for our planet. Their actions start in the classroom and expand to their neighborhoods helping waste reduction become part of the normal everyday life, at school, at home and in the community.

Learning Opportunities

Edible Gardens Workshops

Classes in October and November:
Composting Basics & Putting the Garden to Bed
Register at piercecountywa.gov/ediblegardens


Fruit Tree Education Series


Learn the basics of fruit tree care and maintenance in this 7-part series. All classes are taught by knowledgeable instructors and local specialists. Participants can enroll in the full series for a comprehensive introduction to fruit tree care or choose to register for individual classes. Schedule and registration information


Meaningful Movies: A Plastic Ocean 
TONIGHT! October 25, 2018 at 6:30 p.m.
Grand Cinema, 606 Fawcett Ave 

This is a FREE screening of the "must-see" film about the plastic pollution of the oceans and its ultimate consequences for human life.

Professional Development for Teachers

NGSS In Action: Science & Engineering in Your Community
A workshop series with half-day & full-day sessions near Sumner and Bonney Lake. 
STEM clock hours & stipends included for public school teachers
Full day workshops include free childcare and lunch

Join IslandWood staff for a workshop series and explore how your schoolyard and community can bring the Next Generation Science Standards alive for students while building the foundations students need to understand everything from local environmental concerns to global climate change. Informal educators are welcome!
Learn more

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, REPAIR!
Have you heard of fix-it fairs? Repairing broken things is a great alternative to buying something new, and fix-it fairs are here to help.

Bonus: Keeping stuff out of the landfill can be fun, empowering and thrifty!

More information and resources: 
  • Tacoma Fix-It Fairs
    Free community events where you can bring things to be repaired
  • ifixit.com
    Online repair guide for just about everything from mobile phones to broken zippers.
  • repairclinic.com
    Repair guide with option to find and purchase parts.
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