Zero Waste

Planning a Zero Waste Event

Planning a zero waste event involves taking steps toward more successful recycling and starting to collect and compost food scraps with the ultimate goal being little to no garbage collected at your event.

Whether it's a company picnic, sporting event, family reunion, or neighborhood get together, any event can be zero waste!

See our Zero Waste Event Planning Guide for tips and tools.

We Can Help

The City lends out collection bins, signage, and bags to help jurisdictions and organizations put on successful zero waste events. See our Event Loaner Program flyer for details. or:

Contact Kim Johnson at 360.570.5837 or

Plastic Bag Ban

Plastic Bag

The plastic bag ban goes into effect July 1, 2014. Olympia, Lacey, Tumwater and unicorporated Thurston County have adopted an ordinance that bans stores from giving out many types of single-use plastic bags. Stores must also charge at least 5 cents for paper carryout bags to encourage people to bring reusable bags. Learn more at

Every year, the average American family takes home about 1,500 plastic shopping bags. In Olympia alone, that can add up to 30 million bags. Since neither we, nor Thuston County, can accept plastic bags for recycling it adds up to 120 tons of waste to the landfill each year!

Switching to Reusable Bags

Using reusable instead of disposable shopping bags is EASY! Reusable bags are now very common and can be purchased most grocery stores, major retailers and online. Reusable bags are available in a wide variety of materials, styles and colors. Just buy the one you think you're most likely to use!

  • Always put your bags back in the car after emptying them.
  • Get enough bags so that you’ll always have extras in your car for those times you’ve forgotten.
  • Choose bags that are sturdy, long-lasting and if it is important to you, fit your sense of style.
  • Bags that hold their shape and stand up alone are easier to fill and use.
  • Did you get a reusable bag at a conference or event? If so, consider it a gift and use it for shopping.
  • Practice makes permanent. The more times you use your bags, the easier it is to remember. Eventually it will become second nature and you’ll feel awkward without them.
  • Avoid produce bags by searching online for reusable mesh bags

Opt Out of Junk Mail

Junk mailOver 100 million trees and over 28 billion gallons of water are used to produce one year’s worth of this country’s junk mail. Use the resources below to get your name and address off of mailing lists. Reduce waste, conserve resources and avoid the hassle of disposal by opting out.

Many Olympia addresses receive up to four different phone books each year. Most are delivered in August; be sure to opt out in time for your preferences to be processed.


Over the Phone

  • Dex, 1.877.243.8339
  • Yellow Book, 1.800.929.3556
  • Ziplocal, 1.801.225.0801

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) external link serves to protect American consumers. Your rights as a consumer under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) include the right to opt out for 5 years or permanently.


Over the Phone

  • Call toll-free 1-888-5-OPT-OUT (1.888.567.8688)
  • Deaf or hard of hearing? Call 7–1–1 and refer the Relay Operator to 1.800.821.9631.

Opting Out can be as easy as a few clicks. Staying out can take a bit more effort. Here are five surefire ways to do it.

  1. Use the magic words

    "Please do not rent, sell or trade my name or address." These are the magic words you’ll want to use when you’re filling out forms like warranty cards, subscriptions, raffles, customer information cards, credit card applications, memberships forms, etc. Write these words next to your personal information, and repeat them when making purchases over the phone or on the internet, and you will stay off mailing lists.

    *A note about warranties: Warranty and registration cards are usually just a way to get consumer information from you that is then often sold to direct mailers. Read the fine print to see if you are required to return the card to validate the warranty.

  2. Get on in-house lists only
    Contact your personal credit card companies and ask them to place your name and information on their "in house” list that is not sold or traded to other companies.
  3. Prevent unwanted solicitations
    If you contribute once a year to a charitable organization, ask them to send you only one donation request per year, or see if they can send you a paperless request via e-mail.
  4. Watch out for contests & free offers
    Their purpose is often to obtain your name for mailing lists or to sell you something. If you do sign up for one, be sure to use the magic words.
  5. Tell publishers no thanks
    When you receive a catalog or publication you don’t want, take the 30 seconds it requires to nip it in the bud. Call the 1-800 number of the publisher of the unwanted catalog or publication to have your name removed from their list.

Waste-Free Gift Certificates

Looking for the perfect, waste-free gift? Reduce waste while reducing stress! Spend less time shopping and more time with friends and family. Download, print and personalize one of our many certificates for kids and adults for a wide variety of waste-free gifts. There are even generic options so you can give a gift all your own.

Visit our Waste Free Gift Certificates page to get started