Five Whatcom County businesses have been recognized for their contribution to the environment by reducing the amount of waste they produce and encouraging their customers to do the same.
Zero Waste Washington, a nonprofit organization, seeks to limit the amount of waste produced by educating about waste and recycling, as well as working to drive policy change toward producing less waste.
The organization has compiled a list of local businesses in Whatcom County that are “zero waste,” meaning the stores have significant zero waste aspects and market themselves as zero waste.
There are three definitions of zero waste. First, waste prevention, reuse and recycling. Second, zero waste is a design principle that involves looking at the entire life cycle of a product and determining how it can be manufactured wisely. Third, zero waste is part of nature’s design because materials are recycled over and over again, wrote Heather Trim, executive director of Zero Waste Washington in an email to the Bellingham Herald.
According to the organization’s website, Whatcom County has five zero waste stores.
Whatcom Zero Waste Companies:
Community food cooperative in Bellingham.
Mallard ice cream in Bellingham.
Tea in Wonderland at Bellingham.
Birch Bay Market in Blaine.
The Living Pantry with locations in Bellingham and Blaine.
These stores are known to sell bulk or take-out foods, self-care products, and cleaning products that limit the amount of waste by reusing the same containers. Mallard Ice Cream also uses compostable bowls and quarts.
Other ways to produce less waste:
Shopping at environmentally conscious stores is just one way to produce less waste.
Zero Waste Director Trim also encourages Washington residents to reduce their waste by being mindful of some choices that can produce more waste:
▪ Don’t buy it! If you can repair it, borrow it, or take an alternative approach, you avoid the major resource and climate change impacts of extraction, manufacturing, transportation, and end-of-life.
▪ Bring yours. Bring your own bag, thermos, reusable coffee mug, water bottle, etc. Buy in bulk with your own containers.
▪ Strive to purchase only items with minimal packaging and only truly recyclable or compostable packaging.
▪ Try not to waste food. Smaller portions, buying only what you will prepare and eat, freeze foods for later, use up all foods (eg, save leftover vegetables to make broth), and compost any food scraps you have.
▪ Reduce microfibers in your clothes: look for natural fibers; wash in cold water and hang to dry, as much as possible; wash your clothes less frequently.
According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, you can also easily reduce litter around your home, in schools, at work, and even when you travel.
▪ At home: start composting, use rechargeable batteries, hold garage sales for used items instead of throwing them away, and use reusable mops, sponges and cloths for cleaning.
▪ In schools: Before buying new school supplies, see what can be reused from last year, pack lunches in reusable containers, and buy school supplies that are made from recycled materials or use minimal packaging.
▪ At work: Store documents on a hard drive instead of printing them, use paper clips instead of staples, buy recycled office supplies, and reuse metal-clasp envelopes and file folders.
▪ When you travel: refill reusable toiletry bottles instead of buying new travel products, reuse cups and water bottles, and save your boarding passes and tickets on your phone instead of printing them out.