Go green with composting, recycling and the worm bin

Federal Way resident Hilary King holds a handful of red wriggler worms from a compost pile she created in an ice cooler. King takes the demonstration to events such as the Federal Way Farmer
Federal Way resident Hilary King holds a handful of red wriggler worms from a compost pile she created in an ice cooler. King takes the demonstration to events such as the Federal Way Farmer's Market, where she and other volunteers will have a booth with educational materials about recycling and composting. The booth will appear alternating Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
— image credit: Jacinda Howard/The Mirror

Do-it-yourself composting, green cleaning and recycling will be topics of conversation at the Federal Way Farmer's Market.

The city will staff a booth from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. today and alternating Saturdays at the market. Staff from the recycling division and volunteers will be available to answer questions, give demonstrations and educate citizens about recycling, waste reduction, green cleaning, composting and more.

This is the second year the city will operate the booth. Instead of requiring citizens to seek answers to their recycling and composting questions by calling the city, employees and volunteers are bringing the education piece to the public, recycling project manager Jeannette Brizendine said.

"One of the things we're trying to do with our education is get more on the terms of the people," she said.

Recycling and composting can cut down on the amount of money an individual or family spends on trash disposal and food. Recycling can decrease the amount of garbage dumped in a landfill. Composting can do the same, as well as serve as fertilizer for gardens, lawns and plants.

Annually, single family residences in King County, excluding Seattle, could recycle roughly 20 percent of the waste they throw away, said Bill Reed, recycling program analyst with King County Solid Waste Division. About 40 percent of the residences' garbage could be composted, according to the same information. Combined, a yearly total of approximately 60 percent of materials thrown in the trash by single family residences could avoid a landfill, according to the same information.

Annually, nearly one million tons of materials arrive at the Cedar Hills Regional Landfill, according to a county Web site. Of this, roughly 750,000 tons could be recycled, composted or reused.

Rethinking the Three R's

Hilary King of Federal Way is an avid composter and recycler. King is a vegan and makes it a habit to compost her food waste. She recycles regularly and typically fills only a third of her trash can with waste.

King is also convinced the word "rethink" should be added to the Three R's: Reduce, reuse, recycle. Training oneself to think about what is actually garbage, what can be recycled or composted and what can find new life in another form can be tricky at first, especially for older generations who grew up with the mindset that favored disposable products, King said.

"We all thought that was a great thing — disposable everything," she said. "Disposable was the wave of the future."

Composting and recycling does not have to be difficult. Although homemade wood boxes or store-bought containers serve as compost holders, simple items such as an ice cooler will meet the same purpose. King, who volunteers at the Federal Way Farmer's Market booth, uses such an item to demonstrate composting. Shreds of newspaper and food scraps inside the cooler are home to handfuls of red wriggler worms.

The natural fertilizer produced by the worms is used on King's garden and flowers.

"Everything I put it on goes crazy," she said.

Learn more about recycling and composting

• Visit the Federal Way Farmer's Market from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on alternating Saturdays at The Commons mall, 1928 S. Commons.

• Visit to learn more about starting one's own compost pile.

• Visit King County's web site to learn more about composting curbside.

Visit the City of Federal Way's recycling and garbage Web page.

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