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Friends Notes

Keep up to date with news from Friends of Skagit Beaches

Trail Tales: Repair and Clean Up

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A helping hand with our volunteers

erica pickett and parks rec helperIn 2013, Friends of Skagit Beaches’ Trail Tales project worked with the City of Anacortes Parks & Recreation Department to install the first group of interpretive signs along the Tommy Thompson Trail between 34th Street and March Point. Over the years, several signs were vandalized and other damaged by seagulls dropping shells along the causeway and trestle.

Last year, Project Lead Betty Carteret received funds from the 2018 Anacortes Lodging Tax fund to replace several signs with the most damage. Working with the sign manufacturer, IZone Imaging, it was determined that this group of signs had a manufacturing defect that was contributing to early deterioration. IZone offered to replace all the signs in that group at no cost under warranty. Friends didn’t have to spend a dime to get 15 new signs to replace the old signs along the trail.

We really appreciate the outstanding customer service offered by IZone Imaging

On March 8th with support from Anacortes Parks & Recreation staff, a group of 8 volunteers removed the old signs, cleaned the aluminum support frames, and installed 15 new signs. Thank you to all who helped get the job done!

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The interpretive signs tell the storying of the history of Anacortes’ working waterfront; the ecology of the shoreline and watershed; activities that led to shoreline pollution; and the Anacortes Baywide Cleanup project that has restored the shoreline along Fidalgo Bay. The signs are popular stopping points along the trail and are visited by many residents, tourists, and visitors staying at the Fidalgo Bay Resort. You can pick up a map brochure guiding you to see the interpretive signs at the Anacortes Visitors Center, Cap Sante Marina Office, or the Anacortes Library.

Learn more about our Trail Tales interpretive signs here 

You can attend an update on the Baywide Cleanup project (the Custom Plywood Mill site) on March 25th @ 11 am at the Anacortes Library.

With the weather improving and Spring on its way, grab your trail map and head out for a Journey of Discovery along the Tommy Thompson trail. If you’d like more information about the interpretive trail, you can contact Betty Carteret at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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The Dangers of Wishcycling

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End recycling contamination in Skagit County!


The Skagit Plastic Reduction & Recycling Coalition is determined to help Skagitonians reduce reliance on single-use plastics AND recycle plastic correctly. That last bit is important for a lot of reasons.

I’m an environmentalist. I recycle!” Ever since the first Earth Day in 1970, recycling in America has grown to represent the starting point for environmental stewardship. If you care about our planet, you recycle. But sometimes we want so badly to ensure all the plastics we use gets recycled that we put things into our recycling bins that end up making the whole lot unrecyclable.

Wishcycling. Have you ever wondered if a particular kind of plastic packaging is recyclable and just put it in the bin, assuming either it would be recycled or it would get ‘sorted’ out? That’s wishcycling and it causes contamination of the recycling waste stream. And no one wants contamination of the recycling waste stream! Recycling contamination is a significant problem, resulting in loads of recyclable plastics ending up in landfills. Unfortunately, this happens a lot because many of us put items that are not recyclable in the bins, or we fail to rinse recyclable plastics. In other words, we have become wishful, but kind of lazy, at the same time. Ouch.

Plastics recycling contamination. The plastics recycling process generally includes recyclables being sorted, bundled, and transferred to a recycler to undergo the process of breaking the material down so it can be made into new products. But if those shipments of recyclables contain a lot of material that is not recyclable, then the process of recycling is made much harder or even not feasible, resulting in the whole lot being disposed of rather than recycled. Recycling contamination has become such a big problem that China will no long accept plastics and other materials for recycling from the US and other countries around the world. China placed stringent requirements for levels of contamination that are significantly lower than what we currently see in the US plastic recycling stream.

It’s time for a recycling reboot.

What’s recyclable? Good question with a more complex answer than you would think. Plastic recycling is dependent on two things: the recyclability of the plastic item and the market for recyclable plastics. Recently, the market for recyclable plastics has changed dramatically because of China’s decision to stop taking recyclable plastics from the United States due to excessive contamination of the recycling waste stream.

So, what’s recyclable? In Skagit County, you have two options for recycling plastics: you have curbside recycling (generally provided by Waste Management) with a single recycling bin where you put all recyclables (plastics, glass, metal, and paper – aka comingled recycling) or you take your recyclables to the Skagit County transfer station, managed by Skagit County Solid Waste Division, where there are separate bins for different types of recyclables, including plastics.

Currently, in Skagit County:
Curbside recycling of plastics accepts clean bottles, jars, jugs, and tubs.
Transfer station plastic recycling accepts clean bottles and jugs, but not jars or tubs.

Just remember the SHAPE of the container is what’s important, not the number in the triangle. And rinse containers to remove food residue (they don’t have to be sparkling…just rinsed). Also, remove lids and never put your recyclables in plastic bags as both items can become stuck in the machinery at the recycling plant causing costly downtime.

Don’t even THINK about putting any other plastics in your recycling bins. If in doubt, throw it out. We know it’s painful, but if you aren’t sure a plastic item is recyclable, then do not put it in your recycling bin. Doing so could contaminate the recycling waste stream. It’s time for all of us to reboot our recycling habits and recycle only accepted materials, so we don’t contaminate the recycling stream and send valuable recyclables to the landfill.
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Download a flyer about the most common recycling contaminants to keep out of your bins at https://recycleoftenrecycleright.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/11/Most-Common-Contaminants-Poster.pdf.

More details and current information can be found at the Waste Management website at http://wmnorthwest.com/skagitcounty/recycling.html.

If you take your plastic recycling to the transfer station, you can download a copy of their guidelines at https://www.skagitcounty.net/Departments/PublicWorksSolidWaste/main.htm.

 

Refuse Single-Use Plastic in 2019!

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Resolve to Refuse Single-Use Plastic in 2019!

Okay, we know that New Year’s Resolutions can be tricky. But you’ve already resolved to reduce your plastic waste by taking the Plastic Waste Reduction Pledge in 2018. Remember? So what better time to double-down on your efforts than the beginning of a New Year?

Let’s start with four really easy steps. You’re probably already taking them some of the time. Let’s resolve to take these steps EVERY DAY of 2019.

  1. Use reusable shopping bags. Plastic bags are ubiquitous on beaches and in the oceans. They are ingested by whales and turtles and entangle birds and other wildlife. They are the second deadliest ocean trash to animals. And they are so easy to refuse to use. Just throw a reusable shopping bag and some nifty mesh produce bags in your purse, backpack, or car (wherever would be convenient), and take them with you to use when you shop.  
  2. Refuse to use plastic straws. Plastic straws are everywhere. Over 9 million straws have been picked up off of beaches during International Coastal Cleanups. That has motivated the Ocean Conservancy’s #SkiptheStraw campaign. You can refuse plastic straws by… refusing them. Tell your waiter or that friendly counter person that you don’t want a straw in your drink. If you really love straws or need them for medical reasons, buy some paper straws or one of the reusable varieties that are currently flooding the marketplace and bring them with you when you’re out and about.
  3. Bring your own water bottle. Yes, stay hydrated, but not with water bottled in plastic. Americans purchase over half a billion bottles of water every week even though we have some of the best tap water in the world. And bottle caps are the fifth deadliest trash for ocean animals because they are so easily ingested. Save some money and save the ocean from plastic pollution by bringing your own water bottle. Nothing fancy needed. Make it a habit to have one everywhere you go.
  4. Bring your own coffee cup. We wish we could say it ain’t so, but those paper cups that hold your to-go coffee are lined with plastic. They are not recyclable and let’s not forget the very obviously plastic lids that cover them. Do the ocean a favor and bring your own coffee cup instead. Again, nothing fancy needed, just a simple ceramic one from your cupboard will do the trick. Make it a habit and it will become a habit!

Take our Plastic Pledge, mail it in, and we'll contact you about picking up your reward - a free reusable shopping and produce bag.

Have a lovely new year and thank you for doing your part to reduce plastic on our shorelines and in the oceans in 2019.

Source: Wilcox, C., Mallos, N.J., Leonard, G.H., Rodriguez, A., Denise, B., 2016. Using expert elicitation to estimate the impacts of plastic pollution on marine wildlife. Mar. Policy 65, 107–114. doi:10.1016/j.marpol.2015.10.014 https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0308597X15002985

The Skagit Plastic Reduction and Recycling Coalition is a partnership between Friends of Skagit Beaches, Skagit County Solid Waste, and the Washington Department of Ecology. We are working to educate Skagit County residents on the issues of plastic waste in the environment and involve them in taking action to avoid single-use plastics and recycle plastic right.

The Friends of Skagit Beaches Plastics Project is funded by a grant from the Washington Department of Ecology with additional support from Skagit County Solid Waste Division.

Article submitted by Joan Drinkwin, Natural Resources Consultants, Inc.

Create Memories, Not Waste, this Holiday Season!

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According to Stanford University, Americans throw away 25% more trash during the holiday season than any other time of year. This extra trash amounts to 25 million tons of garbage! That’s a lot! The good news is its not difficult to reduce waste during the holidays.

Here are seven things we all can do to prevent waste this holiday season. 

  1. Eat, drink, and be merry without single-use plastic. All those party plates and platters may look festive, but they will last long after the holiday season has ended. Use real cups, dishes, and cutlery at your holiday parties. And bring your own cup, plates and cutlery on the go, so you can refuse those ubiquitous to-go cups and containers when you’re out and about.

  2. And while you’re at it, join the clean plate club and avoid holiday food waste. The average American household throws away $2,200 worth of food every year. Yikes! Avoid contributing to this shocking statistic by preparing food for the holidays in reasonable quantities and make sure you and your family eat those leftovers! And avoid food gifts unless you are sure they will be appreciated and eaten!

  3. Use natural materials to wrap gifts and reuse wrapping materials. Forgo traditional wrapping paper and plastic tape and use newspaper, recycled paper, or even fabricto wrap gifts. Use twine or cloth ribbons to secure. If every family reused just two feet of holiday ribbon, the 38,000 miles of ribbon saved could tie a bow around the entire planet.                

  4. Ditch plastic decorations. Refuse "fake snow," which is often made from finely ground polystyrene. Choose reusable decor over disposable, and real garland over plastic. Avoid decorations packaged in unrecyclable plastic.

  5. Recycle Right. Contamination of the recycling waste stream is a significant problem, resulting in loads of recyclable plastics landing in landfills. Keeping abreast of what goes in those plastics recycling bins is important. In Skagit County, if you have curbside recycling you can recycle clean bottles, cups, jars, jugs, and tubs. If you take your plastic recycling to the transfer station, you can recycle clean plastic bottles and jugs, but not cups or tubs. Easy right? Just remember the SHAPE of the container is what’s important, not the number in the triangle recycle triangle.               
  6. Don't purchase gifts in unrecyclable plastic packaging (like clamshells/oyster packaging). This packaging is not recyclable in Skagit County or in most other places in the nation. Seek out gifts that are unpackaged.

  7. Give gifts of time and experience instead of more packaged “stuff.” Some great options are theater or movie tickets, an afternoon roller skating or bowling, a special lunch date, or coupons for time spent together.

Enjoy the holidays with your friends and family as a time to be together, to cook and share stories.

Create memories, not waste! Happy Holidays!

 Sources:

Stanford University https://lbre.stanford.edu/pssistanford-recycling/frequently-asked-questions/frequently-asked-questions-holiday-waste-prevention

The Plastic Pollution Coalition https://www.plasticpollutioncoalition.org/pft/2016/12/16/5-ways-to-reduce-plastic-for-the-holidays

Friends new plastics project, Skagit Plastic Reduction & Recycling Coalition, is funded by a grant from the Washington Department of Ecology with additional support from Skagit County Solid Waste Division and Friends of Skagit Beaches. For more information about this project or to volunteer, contact us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Article submitted by Joan Drinkwin, Natural Resources Consultants, Inc.

Skagit Plastic Waste Reduction & Recycling Project

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(pictured right: FOSB Plastic Interpretive Display rolled out at Fidalgo Shoreline Academy)

Friends of Skagit Beaches -  with support from Skagit County Solid Waste Division and Padilla Bay NERR Education staff - has undertaken a new project to provide education and outreach to residents of Skagit County to reduce single-use plastics that can find their way into our waterways and become marine debris, a major issue threatening our bays and oceans.

A second goal of the project is to educate local communities about changes to plastic waste recycling requirements. As some of our readers may be aware, China is no longer accepting plastics for recycling from the United States and other countries due to the high percentage of “contamination” of the waste stream. This is not contamination of the sort you might expect, it’s really an issue of the plastic being collected containing a high-percentage of non-recyclable plastic waste. This has significantly impacted the viability of plastic recycling and changed the requirements for the types of plastic that can be accepted into the recycling stream. We are calling this part of our project a Skagit County plastic recycling “reboot” to convey that we all need to relearn what plastics can and cannot be recycled.

Friends recently received a grant from the WA Department of Ecology to support rolling out this program in Skagit County. Board member, Betty Carteret, who drafted the proposal, will manage the project. We are just getting started and recruiting volunteers to help make it a success. Friends has contracted with Joan Drinkwin of Natural Resources Consultants to lead the project and coordinate volunteer activities.

Some of you may know Joan from her work with the Skagit MRC’s Salish Sea Stewards Volunteer Program this year. She is working with Callie Martin, Skagit County Waste Reduction and Recycling Educator, to develop a full-day training program for the volunteers to learn details about issues with marine debris and single-use plastics, changes in the plastic recycling market and requirements, and alternatives to single-use plastics. Additional training will be offered to hone outreach and communication skills so our volunteers can effectively foster plastic waste reduction and proper plastic recycling in Skagit County.

Volunteers will be asked to contribute a minimum of 10 hours of volunteer time in exchange for this training program.


If you’re passionate about doing something about marine debris and plastics in our environment, we hope you’ll join the team. For more information or to sign up for the training, please contact Joan Drinkwin via email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. In upcoming editions of the Friends’ newsletter look for articles about the project as our volunteers get to work in the community and what you can do to help solve the problem with plastics polluting our environment.