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January E-Cycling Event at ECOSS

January 31, 2014

by Ariel Williams

Ariel is currently is serving as an AmeriCorps member at ECOSS. This event was part of her “Greening South Park” project. For more information, contact ariel@ecoss.org or call 206-767-0432.

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Ariel on the event day, waiting to greet people with electronics to donate.

The holidays are always hectic: with family, friends, and of course all of the new things people have given you—or you have given yourself! With technology getting more and more advanced in short periods of time, it is sometimes difficult to find the right place to put that old TV or cell phone. That got me thinking. Maybe we should have an electronics recycling event after the holidays so people have a place to take their old “toys.”

It is important to keep electronics out of landfills and off street corners. As electronics break down they release chemicals that are toxic to our environment. These chemicals can leech into and contaminate our waterways, which can lead to big issues in the future. This includes unhealthy fish and unsafe waters, meaning we couldn’t eat the fish or drink the water. That is why it is key to know what goes where, especially when it comes to old electronics.

I partnered with InterConnection.org, a nonprofit that specializes in electronic recycling and is certified as an environmentally responsible electronic recycler.They take the newer electronics and refurbish them and then sell the electronics at a discounted price to low-income individuals, nonprofit organizations, and schools. Some of the refurbished items get sent to other countries so they can have access to newer technology. The items they are not able to refurbish are guaranteed to be recycled responsibly in the US.

The event was featured in the Seattle Times, West Seattle Blog, Seattle.gov, King County E-Cycle program and more!

When the day came, the E-Cycling event was a huge hit! In three hours, we collected 4,679 pounds of electronics—that’s over two tons! I am ecstatic about the success of the event and hope to partner with InterConnection.org again to help keep electronics out of landfills. Special thanks to InterConection.org for helping us create such a great free event, and thanks to all the volunteers that helped move the donations from people’s cars and trucks.

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Ruben Chi, ECOSS employee, and the author in front of the InterConnection.org truck. All of those cardboard boxes are full of donated electronics!

 

For more information about recycling electronics, visit:

 E-Cycle Washington http://www.ecy.wa.gov/programs/swfa/eproductrecycle/

King County Take It Back Network http://your.kingcounty.gov/solidwaste/takeitback/index.asp

InterConnection.org http://interconnection.org/

ECOSS http://www.ecoss.org/

 Hazardous Waste Information http://www.lhwmp.org/home/hhw/disposal-locations.aspx

 

 

ECOSS’ Spill Kit Program Expands to New Counties

April 30, 2013

ECOSS’ spill kit program will be reaching out into new areas of King, Kitsap, and Snohomish counties thanks to a grant awarded by the Puget Sound Partnership’s Stewardship Program.

This means that eligible businesses across the Central Puget Sound area can get free starter kits, training, and plans to be ready to respond to spills of oil or other chemicals on site, and prevent pollution of storm drains and local bodies of water.

EZ-Mart-Des-Moines_Korean-Mini-Mart_Gas-Station_3

Business owners prepared to respond to a spill after a visit from ECOSS.

ECOSS and Seattle Public Utilities jointly developed the spill kit incentive program in 2004. In the nine years of this successful program, ECOSS staff members have served hundreds of small businesses that didn’t necessarily know what should go down the drain, where their drain leads to, and best practices to prevent pollution.

“Our program has been successful because businesses trust us, and we know what they need,” said Kevin Burrell, ECOSS’ executive director. “This grant is seed funding to develop an on-going program through public/private partnerships where more cities can have on-the-ground support with ECOSS’ help.”

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ECOSS’ Sustainable Business Coordinators getting ready to tackle pollution across the Puget Sound.

ECOSS is forming partnerships with cities to identify priority areas, provide services on-site, and customize information to specific businesses’ needs. Through ECOSS’ trained multicultural outreach team, services are available in nine languages.

The Puget Sound Partnership is investing approximately $281,000 in federal funds during the next two years, with a 50 percent match from other sources. Through this funding, ECOSS plans to reach 2,500 businesses in the next two years.

The Puget Sound Partnership, a state agency, is leading the recovery of Puget Sound, and coordinates the efforts of citizens, governments, tribes, scientists, and businesses. The Partnership’s Stewardship Program identifies and evaluates model programs in the region and works to expand them to larger geographic areas.

For more information on the Puget Sound Partnership, visit www.psp.wa.gov. For more on ECOSS stormwater program, visit www.ecoss.org/stormwater.html, or contact John Loyd or Ann Boyce at ECOSS at 206.767.0432.

Meet the Staff – Jin Wook Lee

April 30, 2013

JinJin Wook Lee – Sustainable Business Coordinator

Where are you from?

I was born in Korea, and lived there until I moved to the U.S. in 1992. I originally moved to Texas with family before coming to Washington.

What were you doing before you came to ECOSS? 

I was a real estate agent, and I still have a license for that. I also did some installation of telecommunications equipment when I first moved here.

What do you do day-to-day at work at ECOSS?

For the past few months I had been helping perform waste audits for multi-family housing buildings. We would sort through a building’s trash at the end of the day and catalog their waste to help determine potential cost savings and environmental impacts from increased recycling and composting.

I have also helped with outreach to Korean businesses through the Spill-kit Incentive Program.  We go to small businesses to see if they would be good candidates to get a free spill-kit to help prevent pollution from their business. Recently we presented to the Korean Grocers Association in Lakewood, South Tacoma and Bremerton to promote the program, which was very rewarding.

Now, I am working again with the Powerful Neighborhoods program in Seattle, helping to directly install energy efficient lighting and plumbing in multi-family buildings.

What is your favorite/most rewarding aspect of working at ECOSS?

The Powerful Neighborhoods project is my favorite. It is a long-term project that is going to have a really big impact. It makes me happy to think about all of the money and energy we are helping to save. The rest of the staff on the project are also really fun to work with.

If you could change one thing about Seattle, what would it be?

The weather! Actually, where I grew up in Korea the climate was very similar to Seattle, but after living in Texas for a while I could go for a bit more sunshine.

What is your favorite spot in South Park?

Well, I am actually not in South Park very often except for work, so I don’t think I could say that I have a favorite spot down here.

What do you like to do outside of the office?

I love golfing. Sometimes I like to play tennis. This is why I would like a little more sun around here.

Biggest goal for 2013?

I really want to focus on my faith. I am thinking about doing missionary work in the future. This past year I went on a two-week missionary immersion trip and it really changed my perspective.

Meet the Staff – Socorro Medina

January 31, 2013

 

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Socorro Medina – Multi-Cultural Business Outreach Coordinator

Where are you from?

I was born and grew up in Juarez, Mexico.  I moved to Seattle in 1998.

What were you doing before you came to ECOSS? 

I worked at the University of Washington as a researcher.  My research focused on how mountain ranges affect rain distribution during storms. I did that for about 15 years before deciding I needed to be involved with something that offered more tangible results for people.

What do you do day-to-day at work?

Mostly I have been working on waste reduction audits for apartment buildings; helping to determine how big of a problem waste management is in multi-family buildings.  We talk to building managers and assess the garbage dumpsters, which is much more interesting and not as gross as it sounds.

I have also been helping with the RainWise program.  Mostly going door-to-door to talk to residents about their suggestions and impressions about rain gardens, and how we could improve the program.  People are much more interested in rain gardens and managing polluted runoff than I imagined.

What is your favorite/most rewarding aspect of working at ECOSS?

I love the diversity of tasks I get to work on.  Some days I am out in the field, other days I am working on reports in the office, but it is always changing and I like all of it.  I never feel stuck in a routine.  I also have enjoyed learning about all of the aspects of the work that ECOSS is involved in.

If you could change one thing about Seattle, what would it be?

I would want the city to get rid of parking on main roads, it makes traffic so bad in some places.  Why should they give a whole lane just for people to park their cars?

What is your favorite spot in South Park?

All of the Mexican grocery stores down here.  I can get Mexican and Guatemalan breads, and even nopales (cactus)!  I can’t find those things in my neighborhood.

What do you like to do outside of the office?

I love to eat, and my husband loves to cook so it works out well!  I enjoy walking down to the International District to get food down there.  Also, it is nice to go on short trips around Seattle to experience and know the Northwest a little more.

Biggest goal for 2013?

Trying to not get stressed out.  It is working alright so far.

Local Restaurants Make a Change!

March 14, 2012

In the Fall of 2011, ECOSS expanded its free assistance in greening local restaurants with a new project called “Go Green All Over”.

Thirteen restaurants participated from four South King County communities; White Center, Burien, SeaTac, and Tukwila. They had 30 days to use the getting starting package and work with staff to make changes to reduce waste, save energy and water, and prevent pollution.

ECOSS provided participants with a starting packet with free supplies and services including spill kits, aerators, CFL light-bulbs, a free trial of compost service, and discounted used grease recycling service. A key component of the program was educating staff and encouraging their ideas and participation in making improvements through the use of a poster showing changes that could be made.

“This program really helped me in getting my point across to other staff members,” reported Anthony Sims, manager of Pho La Vang, a participating restaurant in Burien. “It made them see it more clearly instead of it just coming form me.”

The top participants,  based on how many positive changes were made within the 30 day challenge were: Mac’s Triangle Pub, White Center; Salvadorean Bakery and Restaurant Inc., White Center; Uncle Mike’s Superlicious Barbecue, White Center; and Pho La Vang, Burien.

“This program got restaurants excited about going green and also made it fun” said Stephanie Gowing, project lead and Sustainable Business Coordinator with ECOSS. “All the restaurants said they will continue to work on conserving resources and reducing waste.”

The name Go Green All Over refers to all areas where improvements can be made, including the kitchen, bathroom, dining area, and outside area of the restaurant.  ECOSS worked with restaurant owners and staff to focus on pollution prevention, energy and water conservation & waste reduction in these four areas. In addition to helping the environment, these changes can also save businesses money.

Participating Restaurants:

White Center: Mac’s Triangle Pub, Salvadorean Bakery and Restaurant Inc., Uncle Mike’s Superlicious, Barbecue, Café Rozellias, Marv’s Broiler, Jumbo Buffet Chinese, Café Delia
Burien: Armoire Chocolat, Mike Kelly’s Irish Pub, Pho La Vang
SeaTac: Mango Thai Cuisine and Bar
Tukwila: Mayflower of China, Mizu Japanese Steakhouse

And the winners are…

Mac’s Triangle Pub

Geoff McElry proudly supporting Mac's Triangle Pub's success

Salvadorean Bakery and Restaurant Inc.

Ana Catho and her coworkers celebrate their win!

Uncle Mike’s Superlicious Barbecue

Mike and Elizabeth Gordon pose proudly with their coworkers!

Pho La Vang

Pho La Vang showing off their winning certificate!

Pho La Vang showing off their winning certificate!

Visit this site map to find out where the winners are located!

ECOSS wants to thank all the restaurant staff and management that participated for their continued support and advocacy toward a more sustainable work place.  We encourage the public to dine in these locations and take notice of any environmentally influenced changes!

Powerful Neighborhoods—Uniting Energy Saving Strategies in Seattle!

January 24, 2012

In 2010, Seattle City Light and ECOSS joined forces to bring energy and water saving tools into the homes of Seattle-area residents through their Powerful Neighborhoodsprogram.  The program reached out to seniors, recent immigrant households and low income families who had not yet taken advantage of Seattle City Light’s lighting efficiency programs.  The single-family phase of the project has come to a close, and has thousands of lowered electricity bills to prove its success!  Additionally, Seattle City Light has chosen to continue the program with a shift to multifamily housing.

This household-based project involved installing CFLs and educating individuals about conserving electricity through the use of efficient light bulbs, showerheads and faucet aerators.  ECOSS continued its tradition of multi-cultural outreach by providing this free service in Amharic, English, Spanish, Tigrigna, Vietnamese and 10 other languages!  These trained staff members visited more than 7,500 homes throughout the two year program, and helped educate community members understand ways to “green” their homes and basic water conservation tactics

How many people does it take to screw in 100,000 light bulbs? The team, left to right: Osman, Benito, Ramiro, Satish, Jin, Sophorn, Jackie, Moges

The effects are huge, especially when adding up results of all partners in the program, in addition to ECOSS.  Just ask Seattle City Light who will receive a savings of 13 million kWh for this year alone, enough to serve over 1400 Seattle area homes! This will save participants in the program a combined total of $1.2 million per year on their light bills. A few other impressive numbers include over 10,400 efficient showerheads delivered and over 360,000 energy efficient light bulbs installed from Shoreline south through Burien within more than 20,000 homes in Seattle City Light territory throughout the course of this program.

The report of this successful project boils down to a fairly simple idea: to bring the green movement to the homes of the citizens of Seattle.  However, the efforts and commitment of ECOSS’s staff members should be applauded.  This was no easy task, and the apparent environmental and economic repercussions balance the educational message that saving energy means saving money and uniting our community.

If you or anybody you knows lives, manages, or owns in an apartment building that Seattle City Light provides service to and wants to help save money and save energy with the multi-family program, call ECOSS at 206-767-7004 or email john@ecoss.org.

Sprucing up South Park–A United Way Day of Caring Event!

October 8, 2011

Chase volunteer hard at work!

What do you get when a non-profit, a bank and a government agency join forces?  A lot done in a very short time!  On Friday, September 16, ECOSS teamed up with JP Morgan Chase Bank Corporation and Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) to help spruce up the South Park business district as part of King County’s United Way Day of Caring (UW DOC) – and what a sprucing it got!  For five hours, 24 desk jockey volunteers from Chase, alongside SDOT and ECOSS employees, sweated, toiled and grinned their way to replanting the tree wells along 14th Avenue South.

South Park resident and landscape architect, Meredith Hall, had dreamed of installing drought resistant plants along the street for more than a year.  Collaboration with ECOSS and UW DOC program, her vision finally came to fruition.

Because the trees are part of the SDOT right of way, ECOSS needed permission to do the planting. Working closely with SDOT personnel, a plan of action developed that created a safe working environment for the volunteers, as well as access for watering, and plant and mulch delivery. SDOT will continue to water the plants through the fall until the rains come, to ensure that the plants get well-established.

Logistically, we also needed a location for the volunteers to meet, space to house plants and compost, and water for the plants once installed. South Park Discount Foods donated their parking lot for the day for our meeting location. Ms. Nguyen at Bias & Sewing Co. allowed us to house plants overnight.  Compost was staged at SP Plus Transportation and Loretta’s. SDOT provided a 200 gallon tanker truck of water, but that only covered about 20 tree pits. So several businesses stepped up to provide water, including SP Plus Transportation, Napoli’s, and South Park Groceries.

A Chase volunteer gets ready to plant!

In addition to getting the plants installed, it was our hope that the project would connect some Seattleites who didn’t know of South Park’s existence to the neighborhood and its businesses. To this end, Chase bank provided Napoli’s pizza for lunch, and ECOSS provided some wonderful cookies from Pasteleria y Panaderia La Ideal.  Chase volunteers also lifted a few brews after the event at Loretta’s, and have vowed to return for a weekly lunch, as well as happy hour.

ECOSS and the South Park community would like to extend a huge “THANK YOU” to SDOT, the local businesses, and most especially the Chase employees who volunteered their work day to spruce up South Park!

A plot on 14th street before the Day of Caring...

Beautified!

Chase volunteers outside of South Park Discount Foods

ECOSS Executive Director Kevin Burrell and Associate Director Elizabeth Loudon thank the Chase volunteers and lend a hand!

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