Group aims to trim our waste line

PORT ANGELES — The name isn’t glamorous, but its ideas lean toward revolutionary.

The Citizen Waste Reduction Group, formed last spring, was gearing up for a public awareness campaign and looking for more members from across Clallam County, to work on projects after the first of the year.

Then the original members, including Port Angeles city waste reduction specialist Helen Freilich, realized they’d entered a teachable moment.

Americans throw away 25 percent more stuff during the Thanksgiving-through-New Year’s Day period; that amounts to 1 million extra tons of trash each week.

Americans toss away 38,000 miles of ribbon away — enough to tie a bow around the earth, according to the Environmental Resource Center, an educational organization in Sun Valley, Idaho.

So Freilich and Julie Grattan decided to boil down their own holiday message into a poster and deck a few halls with it.

The message: It’s fun to reduce, reuse and recycle, and here are quick tips: Wrap gifts with the funny papers, as in the comics; give gift certificates for special favors; decorate a live tree and plant it in January; pass your favorite book on to a friend.

So suggests the poster, but that’s only the beginning of a wealth of tips online, at,

A quick survey of such sites turns up some potentially fun and waste-reducing practices.


* Hiding — rather than wrapping — presents for children, so they can embark on a treasure hunt rather than a high-speed paper-tearing session;

* Giving baked or smoked foods from your kitchen or from a local shop, to reduce the packaging and shipping material that comes with mailing gifts;

* Giving nonmaterial gifts such as pairs of tickets to a concert, sporting event, play or museum — this way, the giver may get to go on the outing, too;

* When packing boxes for shipping, cushion contents not with Styrofoam peanuts or tissue, but unbuttered, edible popcorn.

It’s all about trimming the stuff that accumulates in our homes and, eventually, at the landfill, Freilich said.

“We just want to get people thinking. If everyone does just a little bit, that’s the important thing,” she added.

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