Green is the New Black

This Year, Seattle Is Relearning How to Recycle...We Hope

We see ourselves as a green city in more ways than one. But when it comes to recycling, we've got some work to do.

By Nicole Pasia January 14, 2020

This photo from 1971 proves that recycling can be a damn good time.

Seattle has been the poster child of recycling for years: We banned single-use plastic bags in 2012, and we've long boasted a recycling rate well above the national average.

But recently it seems like we’ve taken our recycling aspirations to the extremes (or the extremely lazy), tossing anything from La Croix cans to Amazon envelopes in a blue bin and hoping for the best. This “wishful recycling,” as Seattle Public Utilities calls it, does more harm than good–it’s part of the reason why China, which has long purchased our plastic recyclables, is tired of dealing with our trash.

So how can we redeem ourselves? Here are a few ways to keep the Evergreen State—well, you know.

Say Goodbye to Plastic Bags (Again)

Sorry if you felt like you just got this recycling thing figured out: King County Solid Waste Division is now advising residents to keep so-called “soft-plastics,” like plastic bags and wrappings, out of curbside recycling bins. Instead, clean plastic bags and wrap should either be thrown in the trash or dropped off at specified locations, like local grocery stores.

Stop Asking Siri How to Recycle Everything

Plastic film, batteries, light bulbs, thread (?!)—sorting uncommon recyclables is a nightmare. Enter Seattle recycling startup Ridwell, the product of a father-son duo committed to recycling responsibly (in a world where consumers have precious few options other than tossing and hoping). With a subscription, Ridwell drivers collect your obscure recyclable items and deliver them to specialized recycling facilities and nonprofits. 

Invest in That Starbucks Mug You Swore You’d Never Buy

Bringing your own coffee cup to Starbucks will save you 10 cents and make you feel way less guilty about that PSL habit. While Starbucks has yet to join some San Francisco cafes in enforcing a strictly BYO-mug policy, the company has been experimenting with redesigned, recyclable and compostable cups.

Pick Up the Pace (And the Trash) with Plogging

The Swedish fitness trend that combines jogging with picking up trash might be the best portmanteau since glamping, and you can participate without facing constant judgment from your one-with-nature peers. With over 100,000 #plogging Instagram posts, you won’t be the only one trying out this stress-free way to clean up your favorite trails.

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